Maca powder has been touted as a superfood with numerous health benefits, from boosting energy levels to improving hormonal balance.
But with conflicting information about whether or not to cook maca powder, it can be confusing to know what’s best for your health.
In this article, we’ll explore the effects of heat on maca powder and whether or not it’s necessary to cook it.
We’ll also delve into the differences between raw and gelatinized maca powder, and which one is the safest and most beneficial for your body.
So, let’s dive in and discover the truth about maca powder!
Does Heat Affect Maca Powder?
Maca powder is often consumed in its raw form, but there is some debate about whether or not heat affects its health benefits. Some sources claim that heating maca powder destroys its nutrients and medicinal properties, while others argue that cooking or gelatinizing maca powder is necessary to make it safe for consumption.
The truth is that heat does affect maca powder, but not necessarily in a negative way. In fact, studies have shown that heating maca powder can actually enhance its health benefits.
When maca powder is heated, it undergoes a process called gelatinization. This process removes the starches from the root, making it easier to digest and increasing the concentration of beneficial nutrients. Gelatinized maca powder also has a sweeter, more caramel-like flavor than raw maca powder.
Furthermore, traditional preparation methods for maca in indigenous communities involve cooking the root before consuming it. This suggests that heating maca powder may actually be the best way to unlock its full potential.
What Is Maca Powder?
Maca powder is a finely ground powder made from the root of the maca plant, which is native to the Andes region of Peru. The root is harvested and dried before being ground into a powder, which can be added to food or drinks for its health benefits. Maca powder is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, copper, and iron. It is also considered an adaptogenic herb, which means it can help the body manage stress and balance hormone levels. Maca powder is commonly used to improve sexual function and libido, enhance energy and mood, and support overall health and wellness. It is available in various forms such as capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and raw or gelatinized powder.
The Health Benefits Of Maca Powder
Maca powder has been used for thousands of years for its numerous health benefits. Here are some of the ways that maca powder can improve your overall health and wellness:
1. Aphrodisiac: Maca powder has been dubbed Peruvian “ginseng” and has been used as a natural aphrodisiac for both men and women. It has even been used to treat erectile dysfunction.
2. Hormone & Mood Balance: Consuming small amounts of maca powder each day can help balance out hormones, which can ease depression, boost mood, energy levels, and focus, while lowering anxiety.
3. Fertility: The black form of maca has been linked to increasing sperm count in men, while helping to regulate hormone levels in women to increase fertility.
4. Vitamin & Mineral Rich: Maca powder is a great source of vitamins B, C, and E, as well as antioxidants to keep your immune system healthy. It also contains calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.
5. Medicinal Properties: Maca powder has been used to treat a variety of conditions such as osteoporosis, stomach cancer, depression, leukemia, and tuberculosis in the naturopathic medical industry worldwide.
6. Energy Boosting: Maca powder is known for elevating energy levels and increasing stamina without the jitters or shakiness of caffeine.
7. Stress Relief: Similar to its mood and energy-boosting characteristics, maca helps you relax and unwind.
8. Clear Skin: Maca powder may be a natural remedy for those with mild acne or skin irritation due to its nutrient quality and hormone balancing properties.
9. Muscle Building: Maca powder has been linked to aiding in the development of muscle in both men and women.
Raw Vs. Gelatinized Maca Powder: What’s The Difference?
There are two main forms of maca powder: raw and gelatinized. Raw maca powder is made by simply cleaning and grinding dried maca roots into a fine powder. This process does not involve any heating, so the starches in the root remain intact.
On the other hand, gelatinized maca powder undergoes a heating process that breaks down the starches in the root. The dried maca roots are first boiled and then pressurized to remove all starch content. This process makes the nutrients in maca more bioavailable, meaning they are easier for the body to digest and absorb.
While raw maca powder may contain more starch than gelatinized maca powder, it still contains many beneficial nutrients. However, some people may have difficulty digesting raw maca powder due to its high starch content.
Gelatinized maca powder, on the other hand, is easier to digest and may be more suitable for those with digestive issues. It also has a more concentrated nutrient profile than raw maca powder, as part of the moisture is removed during the gelatinization process.
Does Heat Affect The Nutritional Value Of Maca Powder?
While heating maca powder through gelatinization may enhance its health benefits, it is important to note that high heat can also destroy some of its nutrients. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid microwaving or heating maca powder at high temperatures.
It is also important to note that the type of maca powder being heated can affect its nutritional value. Raw and organic maca powder is thought to be the most beneficial, as it is free from any additives or chemicals that may diminish its nutritional value.
Cooking With Maca Powder: Dos And Don’ts
If you’re interested in incorporating maca powder into your diet, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when cooking with it:
– Use gelatinized maca powder whenever possible. This will ensure that the powder is safe to consume and that you’re getting the most nutrients out of it.
– Add maca powder to smoothies, energy balls, or homemade Lara bars for a healthy and delicious treat.
– Start with a small amount of maca powder (about 1 teaspoon) if you’re new to it, and gradually work your way up to about a tablespoon per day.
– Cook maca powder at a low temperature to avoid destroying its beneficial properties.
– Consult with your doctor before adding maca powder to your diet if you have a history of testicular or ovarian cancer, or if you’re breastfeeding.
– Don’t consume more than 1 tablespoon of maca powder per day, as it can affect your hormone levels.
– Don’t over-maca. Adding too much maca powder to a smoothie can result in a chalky texture and may not be as beneficial for your health.
– Don’t cook maca powder at high temperatures, as this can destroy its beneficial properties and nutrients.
– Don’t consume raw maca powder, as it can accumulate mold that produces toxic aflatoxins and may be difficult to digest.
How To Incorporate Maca Powder Into Your Diet
If you’re looking to incorporate maca powder into your diet, there are many easy ways to do so. One simple method is to add a teaspoon or two of maca powder to your morning smoothie or protein shake. The nutty flavor of maca powder pairs well with chocolate and fruit flavors, making it a versatile addition to any smoothie.
Another option is to sprinkle maca powder onto your hot or cold cereals. Use 1-2 teaspoons of maca powder to avoid overwhelming the flavor of your cereal. Maca powder can also be added to energy balls or no-bake sweets, such as vegan macaroons or fudgy brownies.
If you’re a fan of hot beverages, try adding a teaspoon of maca powder to your coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. Be sure to add the maca powder after the beverage is already in the mug, as cooking or boiling it can destroy its nutrients.
For a more traditional approach, try incorporating maca powder into savory dishes such as soups or stews. Maca powder pairs well with spices like ginger and cinnamon, making it a great addition to curries or chili.