Black Maca – a unique phenotype of super food for maximized human performance

I’m a huge fan of Maca root.  It really is one of the most energizing foods (other than things that contain stimulants, like the caffeine in coffee or theobromine in chocolate) and it is also a powerful adaptogen (balancing substance).  Some times called the “Ginseng of super foods” it helps combat fatigue, is an aphrodisiac, and is chock-full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

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Some years ago, our company The Food Movement started importing a couple of unique phenotypes of Maca root, specifically the Red and Black Maca, from Peru where it is exclusively grown. (Maca needs the high-altitude and rich volcanic soil in the Andes mountains to truly thrive).

People always ask me – what is the difference between these varieties? And companies who market the cheaper varieties (mostly conventional Yellow Maca or gelatinized powders) sometimes claim there is NO difference between different ecotypes of Maca.  Well, I can offer my opinion all day long, but when people start making assertions that are just plain false, I find a good way to balance out these differences in information is to turn to the science.

CAN BLACK MACA IMPROVE YOUR … mood? energy levels? blood sugar levels? libido? overall health status?

In this post, I want to look specifically at Black Maca. A very interesting study compared the effects of Black and Red Maca in otherwise healthy individuals.  They found some differences in chemistry, in that the levels of fatty acids and macamides (more on this in a minute) were higher in Black Maca, while the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA dominated in the Red.   Both varieties resulted in improvement in mood, energy, and health status, and reduced CMS score (chronic mountain sickness which occurs at high altitudes) but only the Black Maca reduced blood glucose.

Researchers in the journal Andrologia compared extracts of Black and Yellow Maca to try and raise the sperm count in adult mice.  They found that “Black maca administration resulted in higher concentration of sperm count in epididymis and vas deferens compared to yellow maca. ”

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One customer writing to TFMC commented “I feel like a new man taking the Food Movement Black Maca.  One tablespoon a day got me feeling good and having more energy, but when I started adding 2 or more to my smoothie — woooooo! I was hooked.  I’ll be ordering at least once a month from now on.”

There is much more research on Maca root, but I’ve given you just a couple of the studies comparing the different ecotypes of Maca. So, when someone says there is “no difference” between different kinds of Maca, they are quite misinformed according to the published research.

Which type is best for you? Only you can answer that – lately I have found very good effects from mixing more than one kind.  The really amazing benefits of what I like to call The Maca Trifecta (red, black and yellow combined) is something to be experienced.

Asian demand for Maca root disrupts international natural products trade

It really pains me to type that title, folks. I’m a big fan of Maca.  It is one of the best ‘tonic’ super foods – meaning that it is safe enough to eat every day and provides continual body strengthening benefits.  It is a member of the Cabbage family that only grows in the Andes mountains on the coast of South America.

When the Food Movement project first began bringing Red and Black Lepidium preuvianum (Maca root) from Peru into the US health food store market, I was ecstatic that we were able to bring this international superstar to folks at a fair price, and were able to work with our supplier partners to obtain verifiable certified organic plants in a raw form.  Now international demand has pushed prices sky high and made good materials more scarce.

So here’s the long a short of it; if you see a Maca you like on the shelves right now – especially at prices consistent with what they were earlier in the year – buy it all.  If you liked Maca at $13.99 for an 8 oz (retail price on TFM Red Maca before the recent disruption) you can expect to buy quite a bit more as the overall market absorbs supply-side price increases of 400 to 500%!

Consider this recent report from America TV

While price increases can cause problems for retail and wholesale suppliers, as well as importers (not to mention consumers!) the real problem may end up being one of supply. For a crop that only grows properly in a certain part of the world, there can be only a certain amount of supply without sacrificing quality.  At this moment I’d rather pay too much for Maca than have none at all!  It seems that it may be the only option we have.

As far as blaming Asian markets for this problem – if anyone is to blame it  might just be the Chinese government.  Because they had state-controlled limits on birth rates, recently lifted, their people were not concerned with procreating at the rate they are in the free world.  China’s one-child policy from 1979 to 2009 may have averted as much as 200 million births, although ethnic minorities within China were not limited by the single child rule and other exceptions were actually made to this limit.  Even so, since the change in China’s family planning policy, their demand for products ranging from Prenatal Vitamins and EFAs to aphrodisiacs such as Maca root, have skyrocketed.  As these pressures impact our global market, we can only do our best to keep our eyes on the prize in regards to sustainability, fair trade principles, and environmental footprint.  Good Maca will likely continue to be available, but we will always struggle with increased levels of inferior products as Maca poaching and other tactics become more profitable than ever.