Maca has been used by the native Peruvian people since pre-Incan times, for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. It is an important staple in the diets of these people, as it has one of the highest nutritional values of any food crop grown there.
Many of you will be familiar with yellow maca root, the most common and least expensive variety of maca (making up ~60% of the annual harvest in Peru). However, there are other varieties of maca which the Peruvians have also been consuming for over 2,000 years, known as red and black maca. Rarer than the yellow variety, both red and black maca are thought to have a host of their own unique health benefits.
So, what are the benefits of red and black maca?
Red maca root is a rare variety of maca that is energising, hormone-supporting, and super-nutritious. Grown in the same regions and under the same conditions as other maca varieties, the light pink to dark purple-coloured roots contain an array of phytonutrients that nourish the body from within. Most people find the taste of red maca to be more gentle and mild than other varieties of maca.
Benefits of Red Maca
Valued in South America for thousands of years, red maca was a sacred crop of the Incas due to its high nutrition content. Recent studies have found that not only is red maca bursting with an array of important nutrients, it boosts overall energy and vitality, and support hormone function. There’s also evidence that red maca is important for bone density and strength, especially in women and children.
Female Hormonal Health
Numerous studies on maca have shown the positive effects on female hormones. Several of these studies have looked specifically into the effects of red maca, which helps to moderate hormone levels and have positive effects for fertility, thyroid health and clear skin. These benefits arise because maca is an adaptogen, a natural substance which assists the body to normalise itself and reach homeostasis. This means that if your hormone levels are too high or too low, consuming maca may help to bring these levels back to where they naturally should be.
Red maca has been shown to be beneficial to prostate health in males. A 2005 study published in the journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, investigated whether the three varieties of maca (red, black and yellow), have an effect on the size and weight of the prostate in adult male rats.
The study showed that red maca reduced the prostate size in normal adult rats, and prevented prostate weight gain in rats treated with testosterone enanthate (a male sex hormone used to supplement or replace natural testosterone made in the body). This study concluded that only the red variety of maca had an effect on the prostate size in rats. These results may have important implications for human males, especially those over the age of 40 with a heightened risk of prostate cancer.
Black maca is the rarest variety of maca, and may assist with hormone balance, sexual health, stamina, and mood. The light grey to dark grey maca roots harvested in Peru make up only 15% of the annual harvest.
Benefits of Black Maca
The pigment in black maca contains adaptogenic compounds which help the body combat stress and restore internal balance. The Inca warriors would use black maca to boost energy, strength and endurance. Nowadays, both male and female athletes can use black maca to naturally increase stamina and strength. Like red maca, black maca also contributes to bone density.
Memory & Learning
Black maca has been shown to be the most beneficial variety of maca for memory and learning. In a 2006 study published in the journal of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the effects of yellow, red and black maca on cognitive function in mice were evaluated. Memory and learning impairment in the mice was caused by an ovariectomy (having both ovaries removed). These mice were then subjected to the “search for water” test, and demonstrated that treatment with black maca had a greater impact on spatial learning than both yellow and red maca, and reversed the cognitive damage caused by the ovariectomy.
Black maca is sometimes referred to as "men's maca", and is thought to assist in increasing fertility in men. In a 2009 study at the Peruvian University, black maca was found to be the best variety of maca for increasing sperm production, motility and volume. A newer study from 2013 reported that black maca also has a positive effect on spermatogenesis (the formation of sperm cells).
Why use Matakana SuperFoods Organic Maca Root Powders?
All of our Organic Maca Root Powders (yellow, red and black) are gelatinised, meaning you don’t have to cook your maca to get its full benefits. The gelatinisation process is a way of pulverising the maca during the milling process. This naturally breaks the starch bonds for superior digestion and nutrient absorption, so you’ll get more out of the gelatinised maca in comparison to raw maca. Read more on Why you need to be buying gelatinised not raw maca powder.