What’s the best Maca powder to buy?

How to choose the best Maca powder?

In deciding the Maca powder that is the best for you to buy, you should take into consideration a number of elements such as: the therapeutic properties, production process, potency of the powder, colours of the root, flavour, texture, ethics and sustainability towards the community and the environment.

A blend of tradition, art and science is required to make therapeutic grade maca. And the final quality could be easily influenced during production. In addition, how do we ensure that the maca powder we buy provides the best value for money? Also, is it the right maca for you and your health needs? More importantly, is your purchase supporting the farmer or all the corporations that are exploiting the farming communities in Peru? In other words, how should you choose the best maca powder to buy?

How to choose the best Maca powder?

Which colour do you need?

Colour is a key factor to take into consideration when buying maca, namely Yellow, Red, or Black. As each colour has different biochemical properties and benefits, it is particularly important to determine which colour is the appropriate one for your health condition and what you want to treat. As maca powder offers several health benefits (click here), it can help many treatable conditions. So carefully check the condition you want to treat and then find the best combination in selecting the maca powder to buy. (Click on the condition above to see what maca is best for you.)

Buy Activated Maca

Why you shouldn’t eat raw Maca

One of the biggest mistakes we find is the consumption of raw maca powder. This not only goes against tradition and how ancient civilizations dating back to pre-Incan tribes have been consuming it, but also recent scientific studies on the consumption of maca. Therefore, our advice is to never eat raw maca  because it may contain mould that produces aflatoxins, accompanied with a nasty taste.

Mould grows on maca due to humidity, which then produces aflatoxins that can be toxic to the gut and liver, even in small quantities. To overcome this problem, maca should be heated or cooked. However, you should be careful even with cooked raw powder, as it may still contain aflatoxins which are not destroyed by heat. We strongly recommend that it is much safer to buy activated maca, which is pre-heated maca. Moreover, you need to be able to trace the origins and techniques used in the production of the maca. If you can’t trace it directly back to the farm, don’t buy it.

The importance of MACAMIDES

Maca has special and unique bio-active components called macamides and macaenes. These special molecules, which are unique to maca work in our brain, harmonizing our hormones and our nervous system imbalances. By working directly with our endocannabinoid system, these molecules regulate our endocrine function. The higher level of macamides equates to more potent maca. They also act as a marker for the therapeutical potential of maca and provide a guide for the dose you need to take.

The highest quality maca powder will display the macamide level on the nutritional panel of the packet. By analysing the macamides and their respective weight per gram of powder, you can calculate the activity of maca powder. A total known macamide weight percentage of 0.6% (w/w) or higher is needed for it to be a therapeutic powder. This will ensure a 60+mg per 10g serve (equivalent to 1 tsp). The ideal target maca dose for maintaining a healthy balance and general conditions should contain 60-100 mg of total macamides per day, while acute or chronic conditions can sometimes require between 100-140 mg per day. For most endocrine issues, it is recommended that you consume maca daily for 6-12+ weeks to ensure the full benefit.

We undertook an independent analysis of 5 commercially available maca samples in Australia to demonstrate that only 2 of the randomly chosen powders were within this therapeutic range. This all means that you might be buying maca powder that lacks therapeutic benefits. It is important to note that Macamides are predominantly made after the harvest as they require optimum root selection, a minimum of 3 months drying in the sun, and appropriate processing to become therapeutic. The best way to ensure you are taking maca that works effectively is to check the macamide concentration on the packet or check with the supplier. The best maca powders are the ones that have a standardised macamide level with every batch tested to ensure the quality.

Not all maca powders have the percentage of macamides needed to be considered therapeutical. We have maca powders that do achieve or exceed that level. Graph - HPLC analysis of total macamides in randomly chosen commercial samples in Australia expressed as a % of total weight (mg/g).

How to ensure your Maca is safe?

Junin, a region in the Andes of Peru is the spiritual home and main area where maca is cultivated. It grows between 3,800-4,500m where there is ideal climatic and soil conditions to produce the best quality maca roots that have been cultivated for 2,000 years as an Incan medicinal and therapeutic tradition. Scientific studies have shown that maca grown in other areas of Peru and the world lack the therapeutic properties from its cultivated birthplace in Junin (see here).

In recent years, maca has been taken illegally out of Peru in order to develop the plant in China, but Chinese maca lacks the therapeutic potential of the Peruvian equivalent. Furthermore, there is ongoing concern about GMO Maca from China due to thehigh number of patents that have been put in place by the Chinese producers. GMO has been banned in Peru and as such all Peruvian maca is GMO free, the same cannot be said for Chinese maca. All maca exported from Peru should come with a certificate of origin. For quality assurance, it should also have an organic certification along with an analysis of mould, yeast, bacteria, aflatoxins, and heavy metals.

If you are buying maca, make sure it comes from Junin, Peru, as this is the region that has the reputation of producing the best quality roots. Also, ensure it is organic certified and free from any substance that might put your health at risk. Another desirable quality is maca from a single origin (i.e. from one single farm), otherwise it can affect its quality. For example, multi origin maca can be a mix of maca powders resulting in a mixture of qualities. Therefore, we suggest it is best for you to look for authentic artisanal, sun-dried maca from a single origin as it is the most therapeutic and safest to consume.

The list below can help you choose your maca properly, make sure it has:

1. A certificate of origin (Junin, Peru)
2. An organic certification (USDA or EU or other)
3. No risk of being GMO
4. Safe levels of mould, yeast, and bacteria
5. Safe levels of aflatoxins
6. Safe levels of heavy metals
7. Single origin status and 100% traceability

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How to eat Maca?

Maca is best combined with bitter foods such as cacao, spices and fruit. The most common forms of Maca are powder or small, crunchy pieces known as nibs. Maca nibs have an earthy, yet sweet, malt-caramel taste to them. Both the powder and nib form can be added to the breakfasts we know and love including fruit salad, porridge, granola, fruit juice and smoothies, or consumed in a tea, the traditional way to take Maca which can be infused with fruit or spices.

Maca is a starchy root vegetable, meaning it always needs to be cooked before consumption. This root should not be eaten raw, as consuming raw Maca can lead to harmful health effects. When choosing between raw Maca, activated Maca and gelatinised Maca, the heat treat options are always best. They are gut safe and contain equivalent or high levels of bioactive macamides. Seleno Health only sells heat ‘activated’ Maca (gelatinised Maca) which is pre-cooked, making it not only safe to consume but also improves the taste. To get the most out of this amazing place, consume Maca in the morning as it provides sustained energy, lasting throughout the day. It contains no caffeine meaning it does not cause any stimulant effects and is safe and well tolerated by people of all ages and health conditions. If this is your first time consuming maca, we recommend 1-1.5 tsp per day for a minimum period of 6-12 weeks to reap the maximum health benefits.

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