In a world where virtually anything can be sold as a ‘superfood,’ maca is one of the few that lives up to the hype.
Due to it’s recent explosion in popularity, maca has been the subject of numerous clinical studies in the last few years. It has been shown to boost athletic performance, increase energy levels, balance hormones, improve fertility, and even enhance your memory!
Of course, whilst these are still recent discoveries in the Western world, the benefits of maca have been known for thousands of years in its native Peru. This incredible root is legendary amongst ancient Incan civilizations, where entire villages would gather to eat maca to improve their strength, stamina and alertness before battle.
And then in more recent times, maca was prescribed by traditional practitioners to treat a wide range of hormonal imbalances, infertility, low energy, depression and more.
I have no doubt that maca is one of the most powerful foods on the planet. But in the rush to get our hands on it, we’ve been making a BIG mistake.
Maca should never be consumed raw!
We can’t get our hands on fresh maca root here in the U.K, which is why we use maca powder and capsules instead. But almost all maca powders and capsules on the market are made by grinding down raw maca root.
Houston, we have a problem!
If we look at the traditional use of maca, it has ALWAYS been cooked before eating. It would be baked whole in fire pits, or boiled for hours and mashed into balls that would be served as part of a meal, usually alongside quinoa and potatoes.
Children in the maca growing regions of Peru enjoy the smaller maca roots, which are boiled and then combined with sugar and quinoa in a form of porridge. They are served this three times per week in order to help with brain development, stamina and healthy growth.
And for medicinal purposes, maca root would be boiled heavily before being ground into a powder. This powder would then be combined with water and taken at meal times.
However they used it, locals would never dream of eating raw maca. And you shouldn’t either!
This is because the raw maca root is made of a structure of complex starches which are almost impossible for our digestive systems to break down.
It also contains a high concentration of enzymes that inhibit the breakdown and assimilation of food, which can cause intestinal distress and interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat.
Raw maca root also has a high water content, which dilutes the concentration of nutrients in comparison to cooked maca. Worse still, this moisture content also acts as a breeding ground for bacterial and fungal overgrowth, which makes raw maca powder highly susceptible to contamination by the time it reaches your kitchen cupboard.
If you wouldn’t eat a raw potato, a raw onion or a raw head of cauliflower… then you certainly shouldn’t be eating raw maca.
So does this mean you have to move to the Andes mountains to enjoy the health benefits of maca, or forget about using it entirely?
It’s time to talk about gelatinised maca!
Don’t panic – gelatinised maca doesn’t contain any gelatine. ‘Gelatinisation’ simply refers to a cooking process that helps make maca much healthier and safer to consume.
In fact, gelatinisation allows us to access the full benefits of the maca root, just like they have been enjoyed in the Andes mountains for thousands of years!
During gelatinisation, the maca roots are heated and pressurised to break down the starch content and neutralise the troublesome enzymes. The leftover pulp is then ground down into a powder and then dried to create gelatinised maca powder.
Due to the removal of the starch, the resulting maca powder contains a much higher concentration of nutrients. Gelatinised maca contains over 4 times the zinc, iron, and calcium content of raw maca powder!
And the lack of water content in gelatinised maca means it is much less susceptible to the mould and yeast overgrowth that is a big problem with raw maca powder.
Last but not least, gelatinised maca also has a smoother and sweeter taste with less bitterness. Many people who use regular maca powder complain about a bitter aftertaste, however this is usually the sign of a poor quality maca powder that is high in the troublesome enzymes we spoke about earlier. This bitter taste is actually a warning sign that we shouldn’t be consuming it!
So why don’t we hear more about gelatinised maca? And why is it still so hard to find?
The main reason is that it is much more expensive to produce. Raw maca roots can be ground into a powder quickly and at little cost to the manufacturer, thus helping to protect those golden profit margins.
Not only does gelatinisation require more complex machinery to process, it also requires more maca! Less maca used means less cost to produce… but also less nutrition for you.
Believe it or not, the worldwide demand for maca has seen manufacturers start to grow maca in mass scale plantations in China. This brings the cost of production down even further, but it also significantly reduces the mineral content. Remember that minerals are drawn up through the soil, and the reason that maca is traditionally so high in minerals is because it is grown in the mineral rich soils of Peru.
If you want to enjoy the TRUE benefits of maca, it must be sourced from high altitudes in the Andes mountains and it MUST be gelatinised.
All the maca found on our site, and in our protein powders, is ALWAYS gelatinised for this very reason. We will NEVER compromise on ingredient quality to try and squeeze a few more pennies on the profit margins.
Wherever you choose to purchase your maca, make sure that it is always gelatinised so that your body can enjoy the benefits!
Have you felt the difference when switching to gelatinised maca? Let me know in the comments below!