I first stumbled onto Maca when I saw it listed as a “booster” on “The Perfect Smoothie“. While I was looking for it at the shops, I stumbled onto Lucuma. Both have been touted as “superfoods” by various health food sites and are recommended smoothie boosters. Like the regular skeptic that I am, I had to do a little digging separate the fact from fiction…
Maca is a Peruvian plant that has been used for centuries in the Andes for nutrition and to enhance fertility. It is related to such plants as rapeseed, mustard, turnip, black mustard, cabbage, garden cress, and water cress. There are three types of Maca – black, red, and yellow. At the time of writing, most of the studies are quite preliminary as they have only been performed on animals. Based on these studies, the results demonstrate some differences in the beneficial properties between the different types of maca, although all types of Maca offer potential benefits for osteoporosis, libido, mood, mental focus, prostate issues, and metabolic syndrome.
…natives in the central Peruvian Andes ascribe to the use of maca in children improves school performance – Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
The key benefit of maca that caught my interest was its effect on latent learning and memory, and its antidepressant effect. Although all three types of maca had beneficial effects on latent learning and memory, it appears that black maca has the most potent effect.
…different evidences suggest that maca, particularly black maca, improves learning and memory – Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
- antioxidant – protect cells from oxidative stress and scavenges free radicals
- decreases levels of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL), total cholesterol, and triacylglycerols
- improves glucose tolerance and lowers glucose levels in blood
- improves bone mass
Lucuma is a subtropical fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree – native to Peru, Chile and Equador. It contains 14 essential trace elements, including a considerable amount of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Lucuma is also a good source of antioxidants, dietary fiber, carbohydrates and vitamins (especially beta-carotene and vitamin B3) necessary for bodily functions and beneficial to the immune system.
Beneficial properties of lucuma:
- topical anti-inflammatory effect on skin wounds – it significantly increases wound closure and promotes tissue regeneration
- antihyperglycemia and antihypertension potential – has potential for complementing treatment of hyperglycemia and hypertension linked to type 2 diabetes
- strong anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties
Maca and Lucuma for Kids?
The biggest concern I have about any “supplement” is whether it is okay for the children to consume.
- Maca has been used as a nutritional supplement for children
- In Peru, the lucuma fruit is often one of the first solid foods given to babies; it is also used as a flavour for ice creams and is said to be a favourite among Peruvian children
So far we’ve been quite conservative with our use of both maca and lucuma. We occasionally add 1 to 2 teaspoons in a smoothie serving for three – usually no more than a couple of times a week. I believe that the key with nutrition is not to get carried away – superfood or no. At the end of the day, the best diet is still from a wide variety of sources.
How do my boys tolerate maca and lucuma? So far so good…