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Health Products - Maca

A traditional Andean food, Maca is a cruciferous root vegetable grown widely in the Peruvian Andes. It's a benign poor mans food which has been in use for thousands of years and because the indigenous people who eat it and don't suffer the bad health consequences of a western diet, it has been labelled a wonder food..

Travellers saw that the Peruvian peasants did not suffer from western diseases and looked at their diet.  In doing so they over looked that fact that peasants did not eat any processed foods, they ate what they could grow themselves and one common crop was maca.

Today most maca production goes into western food supplements and the Andean peoples are eating imported substitute foods and now suffering western diseases. They have to sell  their crops and buy junk food and yet maca is not a drug, but it is seen as a medicinal food. Dried Maca roots are ground to powder and sold in drug stores in capsules as a medicine and food supplement to increase physical stamina and fertility.

The chemistry of maca

Initial analysis of Maca indicates that it contains glucosinolates which are know to have a positive effect on fertility. Proteins, as polypeptides, make up 11 per cent of the maca root; calcium makes up 10 percent and magnesium and potassium are present in significant amounts. other minerals include iron, silica and traces of iodine, manganese, zinc, copper and sodium. Vitamins in maca are thiamine, riboflavin and ascorbic acid. The amino acid proteins in maca include aspartic acid, glutamic acid, serine, histidine, glycine threolline, cystine, alanine, arginine, tyrosins, valine, methionine, isoleucine, lysine, proline, hoproline and sarcosine.

So you see, this was an important source of nutrition, but its not a wonder food, its not going to cure anyone unless they adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle.

The Importance of Maca in the History of Peru

Maca’s cultivation goes back perhaps five millennia. It was an integral part of the diet and commerce of the high Andes regions. When they controlled that particular South American area, the Incas found maca so potent that they restricted its use to their Royalty’s court. Upon overrunning the Inca people, conquering Spaniards became aware of this plant’s value and collected tribute in maca roots for export to Spain.

Maca was used as an energy enhance and for nutrition by the Spanish Royalty as well. But eventually knowledge for maca’s special qualities died out, being preserved only in a few remote Peruvian communities. In the 1960’s and later in the 1980’s, German and North American scientists researching botanicals in Peru, rekindled interest in maca through nutritional analyses of what was designated as ‘the lost crop of the Andes’.

The publication of a book by that name introduced maca to the world. At an international conference in 1991, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United nations recommended that Peruvians should return to eating traditional, native Andean foods. Maca was included in the FAO list as a means of combating nutritional problems being caused by people switching to processed foods and high-sugar drinks.

Some claim that maca is an established part of the Peruvian diet, but poverty limits this forcing most people to sell their crops as happens with the famed quinoa and acai berry which are also from South America.

Hugo Malaspina, MD, Jorge Aguila Calderon, MD,  Gabriel Cousens, MD, Henry Campanile, MD., Garry P Gordon, MD. and other doctors make strong claims for the effectiveness of maca to re-balance reproductive function and men and women, and Dr Burton Goldberg, President of Future Medicine Publishing in Tiburon, California, whose latest book, An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to cancer, is another enthusiast of maca. He says that when he tried maca he was very pleased with the results and began taking it regularly. "I’m a 72-year old man and this maca has taken 25 years off my ageing sex life",

Maca is available from some health stores and pharmacies.

Further reading
Acai berry
Quinoa
Anti Aging Growth Hormones
More Herbs
Your Skin

Contributor:
David Aquino; Natural health consultant.


 



 

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