Far high in the mountains… This is not the beginning of the fairy tale, but the introduction to the story of maca, (also known as Lepidim meyinii or Lepidium perianium Chacon ), radish-like root that grows in the Andes Mountains, and is highly appreciated by Andean Indians and indigenous peoples not only for its nourishing properties, but also for use in medicinal purposes.
Maca was utilized by ancient Peruvians since ancient pre-Incan times; it was noticed that animals fed with maca showed a better fertility than those who weren’t. That fact contributed to the development of the later studies that proved maca’s ability to enhance fertility and sexual arousal.
The nutritional value of the root was one of the factors that made maca popular among the other products: it was traded for green vegetables, rice, cornand and beans. Since maca is rich in sugars, protein, starches, and essential nutrients (especially iodine and iron), it was one of the main food for those areas.
In traditional Peruvian herbal medicine maca is used as an immunostimulant, known remedy for a variety of medical conditions: tuberculosis, anemia, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, sterility (and other reproductive and sexual disorders) stomach cancer and memory disorders. At the today’s market maca gained popularity due to its energizing, fertility enhancement, hormonal balancing and aphrodisiac properties.
Nutritional value of maca is equaled to those of cereal grains such as maize, wheat and rice. 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% fiber, and 2.2% lipids are the elements that make up the nutritional value of the maca root.
The protein content of the maca is represented by the polypeptides and amino acids; 100 g of dried root also contains 250 mg of calcium, 2 g of potassium, and 15 mg of iron, as well as fatty acids, linolenic, palmitic, and oleic acids including. Alkaloids, tannins, and saponins, as well as vitamins and minerals are also presented in maca root.
Moreover, some of the maca chemicals discovered are known to be similar to those in glucosinolates plants, and thus known as cancer-preventive. Arginine and histidine are maca active components responsible for increasing sperm production and motility, as well as ejaculation and orgasm.
Native to the high Andes of Peru, maca is best favors the climat conditions of that region. It is sowed in monoculture or in strips of lands with bitter potatoes in the field that rested around 3-5 years. To get a better distribution, the seed is sowed together with guano. September-November is the time for maca to be carried out.
Maturation sign is the foliage turning yellowish, which as a rule happens in 8-10 month after sowing. The density of the root will depend on the degree of humidity, fertility of the ground and evidence of the rains. Maca produces small, self-fertile, off-white flowers typical of the mustard family to which it belongs.
Complete drying of the root requires the 4-month exposure to the sunbeam, avoiding the exposure to the freezes, which may lead to the degeneration of the root. And after you have it ready for use, maca can be stored for more that 7 years.
Having domesticated maca 2,000 years ago, Incas let us the opportunity to enjoy it is numerous valuable qualities and nutritional properties.