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Ingredient Spotlight: Black Maca, the Peruvian Superfood That Can Boost Your Energy

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You’ve probably heard of maca before. Also known as Peruvian ginseng, maca is a root vegetable that’s the highest growing food crop in the world. It has been cultivated in the Andes for thousands of years, where its use dates back to 3,800 B.C.E. If you have seen a maca root before, it should come as no surprise to you that this root veggie is a member of the radish family. But unlike radishes, maca is a superfood. In Peruvian culture, the maca root has been used as a food, where it is cooked or mashed or as a traditional medicine. There are three types of maca and each one carries its own health benefits: red, yellow, and black. Yellow maca has been the most researched of the roots, while black maca’s popularity is still on the rise in the Western world. Let’s learn a little more about what makes black maca different from the others and how we can use it.

More About Black Maca

shutterstock_448530880JIANG HONGYAN/Shutterstock

For thousands of years, all three maca colors were lumped together when it came to production. It was not until 15 years ago that research into the benefits that each color might offer began. From a nutritional standpoint, all maca is a good source of over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids, Vitamins B-1, B-2, C, and E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, Selenium, Sulphur, Sodium, and Iron, as well as phytonutrients.

Traditionally, maca has been used by men to increase strength and stamina, libido, and even help with erectile dysfunction while for women it has been used for fertility, cramps, menopause, and menstrual issues. Clinical trials are needed to assess whether or not these claims are true. To learn more about the general uses of maca, read Meet Maca, the Peruvian Wonder-Food That Can Boost Your Health. What, then, are the potential benefits of black maca? One study at the Peruvian University concluded that “black maca has better effects on sperm production than yellow maca which has only moderate effects.” Because of this, black maca is known as “men’s maca.” Other studies have suggested that black maca may aid in improving memory and concentration skills, protect bone structure, and improve learning, but further research is needed.

While all maca has been described as having a strong, nutty flavor, what you taste depends on the color of the root. According to The Maca Team, the flavor of black maca is somewhere in between the sweetness of red maca and the mild taste of yellow maca.

How to Use Black Maca

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Because the majority of commercially available black maca comes in either powder, liquid, or capsule form, it is easy to incorporate into your everyday routine. Simply follow the recommended serving size on the packaging, but keep in mind that if you are considering adding black maca to your diet, it is recommended that you do so gradually, starting with as little as half a teaspoon before working up to full servings. As with any new supplement, please consult a health professional before adding black maca to your diet.

Try adding black maca in small doses to your favorite smoothies and desserts. This Superfood Raspberry Smoothie is a great place to start if you’re unsure of how to add black maca to your smoothie. Along with a small dose of maca, it contains other superfoods like chia and hemp seeds. You can also add it to desserts like this Crunchy Chia Chocolate With Maca, Lucuma, Vanilla, and Cashews or homemade nutrition and granola bars, like these Tropical Banana Maca Coconut Bars. Or if you want to keep things simple, just add a pinch to your favorite energy bites. These Almond Butter Chocolate Protein Balls are made from dates and almonds with superfoods like maca, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, chia seeds, and others added in.

Where to Buy

maca

If you want to try black maca, your best bet to find it is at smaller specialty health/food stores, vitamin and supplement shops, or larger grocery stores that carry specialty products. Or, you can buy it online. This The Maca Team Raw Certified Organic Black Maca Powder is harvested fresh from Peru and perfect for adding to smoothies or desserts. One 8-ounce bag is $21.48. This Madre Nature 100 percent Peruvian Organic Gelatinized Black Maca Powder is also great for adding to smoothies and sweets. The maca is “gelatinized,” meaning that it undergoes a process to remove excess starch. According to the company, gelatinized maca is “easier to digest, and won’t cause bloating, gas or upset stomach.” One 16-ounce package is $22.95.

If you would prefer to simply take maca as a supplement, like this The Maca Team Black Maca Capsules. According to the company, the  “powder is never heated above 106°F in order to preserve nutrients at maximum levels.” One container of capsules contains 200 capsules and can be purchased for $26.99. Or, try this The Maca Team Black Maca Liquid Extract. This compared to powders, this extract has “longer shelf life, better bioavailability of nutrients, ease of use and faster absorption results. One 48-serving bottle costs $16.74.

More Recipes With MacaMaca: The Superfood Every Woman Should Try

You don’t need a special recipe for black maca nor do you need to use a lot of it. So, black maca is easily added to your favorite smoothies and vegan desserts. For something simple, try this Green Superfood Detox Smoothie, this Cacao Maca Energizing Smoothie, or just add a small amount of black maca to any of these vegan smoothie recipes.

For easy desserts, swap the regular maca with black maca in these Chocolate Truffles That Taste Like Nutella, this Maca Almond Butter Chickpea Cookie Dough, or this Easy Banana-Cacao Ice Cream. For all three of these recipes, it’s as easy as whizzing everything together in a high-speed blender or food processor — and of course, a little bit of refrigeration time. You don’t need any special equipment at all for this Raw Maca Fudge. Just mix everything together in a bowl, spread it out on a baking sheet, and refrigerate.

Of course, you can also make yourself some decadent superfood desserts with black maca, like these Raw Almond Cacao Cookies With Salted Maca Caramel, this Raw Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Maca, this Pecan Caramel Cake, or this Raw Goji Maca Cake.

See our vegan maca recipes for more ideas on how to use this superfood, but don’t be afraid to get creative with how you use it! Try adding it to vegan energy bites, vegan nutrition bars, or your favorite vegan desserts.

Recommendation: Download the Food Monster App

Raw Maca Fudge [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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Lead image source: JIANG HONGYAN/Shutterstock

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