As someone who still prefers fruit smoothies to green juices, I tend to gloss over reports of new superfoods and sprinkle-it-everywhere powders—my first concern is the taste. If the flavor is the sort of thing that you have to acquire a taste for, I’d rather stick to the healthy things my tastebuds already enjoy. Then there’s maca root, typically seen in powder form that’s described as having a “mildly sweet and pleasant butterscotch flavor,” which sounds like something that might actually enhance the taste of my next smoothie. More than that, maca comes with a heap of health benefits. Read on to see what else this delicious veggie has to offer.
The root of the matter
If you can’t recall the last time you saw maca at the farmers’ market, that’s understandable. Also known as Peruvian ginseng, maca is a cruciferous vegetable (think: fiber-rich foods like broccoli, turnips, etc.) that grows best in the Andes. The root is where most of its nutrients come from, including calcium, zinc, iron, and protein. Calling all coffee drinkers: maca powder also provides an energy boost, sans jitters.
Even more to love
Maca comes with centuries of good press on its side. Used as an ingredient in traditional medicine and as an aphrodisiac, it’s now reported to assist with stimulating hormones to provide a natural mood boost. Even better, you can add maca to your brain food lineup, as it’s been linked to increased cognitive function. Maca’s nickname, Peruvian ginseng, is more than a reference to their similar shapes. Like ginseng, maca is an adaptogen, which means that it’s an anxiety reliever, defending the body from the effects of all kinds of external stressors.
How to get your fix
If you’re all in on the maca craze, you can purchase some powder to mix into morning smoothies or sprinkle onto your morning meal of choice. Its sweeter taste allows for some culinary creativity, though it’s recommended that it be added to hot foods after cooking as the nutrients may be diminished when exposed to extreme heat. If you like to maximize your superfood intake, there are powders that come packed with them, featuring maca alongside other wellness heavy hitters, like spirulina, chia seeds, ashwagandha, and so much more.