Does Maca Powder Have Health Benefits for Women? Here’s What the Science Says
Maca’s having a moment. Farmers have cultivated the Peruvian plant for more than 3,000 years in the Andes mountains, but the radish relative has recently popped up in everything from lattes and smoothies to capsules and even beauty products.
Proponents allege dried, powdered maca can help with everything from low energy levels to menopause. Its most famous claim to fame, though, is as a natural libido booster.
The reality: The research is still out on whether maca powder provides any of these benefits, but it generally can’t hurt to try. Since supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA for efficacy or safety, Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recommends skipping the maca pills. “Just make sure you’re using the powdered root form and check the ingredients list to make sure that maca root powder is the only one on there,” she advises.
Read on to learn more about this root.
Is maca good for you?
If you like the earthy, nutty, butterscotch-like taste of maca powder, adding it to oatmeal and other treats can help you squeeze in extra vitamins and minerals. The root is low in calories, but contains a lot of vitamin C, iron, potassium, and copper.
London’s personal favorite: sprinkling maca powder on popcorn for an extra flavor boost.
Can maca powder boost libido?
If you’re hoping maca will literally spice up your love life, don’t expect any miracles from stirring it into smoothies. “There’s some limited data that maca powder can help with libido, but it’s not exactly ‘nature’s Viagra,'” London says.
The National Institutes of Health states that right now there’s insufficient evidence that maca can help improve sexual dysfunction or sexual desire.
One 2015 study found that taking maca twice daily for 12 weeks slightly helped with sexual dysfunction in women taking antidepressants. However, another analysis found that out of four random clinical trials conducted on maca, two supported its effectiveness and two failed to show any significant results at all.
The bottom line: If you believe maca will get you in the mood, it’s worth a shot adding it to to some to your favorite recipes. A little something called the placebo effect could work in your favor. Just make sure you rule out any other factors — like depression, anxiety, or medications — affecting your sex drive with your doctor first.
Does maca powder help with menopause?
Similarly, the jury is still out on this claim. One 2008 study found eating 3.5 grams of maca daily for six weeks slightly improved psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression.
A more recent study found that taking a similar dose also appeared to improve symptoms of depression and blood pressure in postmenopausal women, but more research is needed.
If you’re really struggling, you may want to get in touch with your doctor, who can prescribe treatments for specific signs and symptoms.
Can maca give me more energy?
Maca does not contain any caffeine (you may be thinking of matcha, the Japanese green tea powder) and there’s also no scientific evidence suggesting that it boosts energy levels or improves stamina. That said, if you’re drinking maca coffee every morning, the beans will certainly give you a jolt — just not the powder itself.
How should I use maca powder?
You can add maca powder to just about anything, including:
- chocolate milk
- fruit smoothies
- baked treats
Start with just a half teaspoon or so – the nutty, caramel flavor can taste pretty overpowering if you overdo it.