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Maca root is a popular superfood that has gained traction in recent years due to its numerous health benefits.
Native to the high Andes of Peru, it comes in two main forms: raw maca and gelatinized maca.
With so much information available, it can be challenging to understand the differences between the two and which one is best for you.
In This Article…
Understanding Raw Maca
What’s The Origin?
Maca (lepidium meyenii) is a Peruvian plant native to the high altitudes of the Andes mountains. It has been harvested for centuries by the indigenous people for its various health benefits. The plant is cultivated in harsh conditions, typically at altitudes above 13,000 feet, where extreme temperatures and poor soil quality add to its resilience.
Maca is commonly available in two forms: raw maca and gelatinised maca.
Nutritional Value of Raw Maca
Raw maca powder is made from the dried and ground root of the maca plant. It is considered a superfood due to the high nutritional value it provides. Raw maca is rich in various nutrients and minerals, including:
These minerals are essential for maintaining good general health. It is important to note that the bioavailability of these nutrients may be lower in raw maca compared to its gelatinised counterpart due to natural enzyme inhibitors found in the raw form. Nonetheless, raw maca still offers a host of nutritional benefits for those seeking a natural supplement.
Health Benefits of Raw Maca
Raw maca powder has a variety of health benefits that make it a valuable addition to your daily diet. Some of the potential benefits of raw maca include:
- Improved stamina and energy levels: As an adaptogen, maca may help to increase your endurance and overall energy levels, making it a popular choice for athletes and those seeking a natural energy boost.
- Enhanced libido and fertility: Maca has been known as a natural aphrodisiac, with anecdotal evidence suggesting it may help improve sexual function, balance hormones, and promote fertility.
- Hormonal balance: The adaptogenic properties of maca may help to regulate hormonal imbalances in the body, potentially alleviating symptoms of menopause and other hormonal disorders.
- Better digestion: Raw maca could provide digestive benefits by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria and improving digestion.
- Cognitive function: Some studies have suggested that maca may have a positive impact on memory and cognitive function due to its antioxidant and mineral content.
- Anticancer properties: Maca is rich in several compounds that possess anticancer properties, such as glucosinolates and macaenes, though further research is needed to definitively establish this claim.
Bear in mind that opting for raw maca means choosing a less processed, more natural form of this powerful superfood.
As you incorporate raw maca into your diet, be sure to monitor any changes in your health and well-being.
Gelatinized Maca – An Overview
How Is Gelatinization Done?
Gelatinized maca is produced through a heat-based extrusion process that involves the boiling of dried maca root. During this process, the starches present in the root are broken down by enzymes. This results in a more concentrated product with lower starch content.
Compared to raw maca, gelatinized maca is a more concentrated source of nutrients. It contains a higher percentage of protein, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin C. Although the extrusion process may cause some loss of heat-sensitive nutrients, the overall nutritional value of gelatinized maca is still impressive.
What Are The Health Benefits of Gelatinized Maca?
Gelatinized maca capsules and powders offer numerous health benefits, but they’re not too different from raw maca.
The main difference is the strength:
- Improved energy levels: Consuming gelatinized black, red, or yellow maca may support and enhance your energy and stamina throughout the day.
- Ease of digestion: As the starch content is broken down during the gelatinization process, the product is easier on your stomach and can be particularly beneficial if you have a sensitive digestive system.
- Vegan option: Despite its name, the gelatinization process does not involve any animal-based gelatin. As such, gelatinized maca is suitable for vegans and vegetarians alike.
- Versatility: You can incorporate gelatinized maca into various foods and drinks, such as protein shakes, juices, oatmeal, cereal, and even homemade energy bars.
What Are The Potential Side Effects?
Although the bioavailability of gelatinized maca is generally higher than raw maca, some potential side effects may arise. These can include gas, bloating, and minor digestive discomfort. However, these side effects are usually less pronounced than with raw maca, as the gelatinization process removes most of the difficult-to-digest starches.
Raw vs Gelatinized Maca: A Comparison
The Differences in Nutritional Profiles
Both raw maca and gelatinized maca come from the maca root, a well-known superfood, however, they differ in their preparation process. Raw maca is simply cleaned, dried, and ground into a raw maca powder. The nutritional profile of raw maca is maintained as it doesn’t undergo any further processing. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, thereby promoting energy, endurance, and hormonal balance.
On the other hand, gelatinized maca powder undergoes a specialised cooking process where the maca root is boiled and pressurized. This process removes some of the starch content making it easier on the digestive system, but it may lead to a slight decrease in the nutrient density compared to the raw version.
Impact on Health Goals
Depending on your health goals, you may prefer one type of maca powder over the other:
- For increased energy levels and overall athletic performance, both raw and gelatinized maca can be beneficial as they contain essential nutrients that support physical endurance and hormonal balance.
- If you have a sensitive digestive system or issues with digesting starches, gelatinized maca powder may be a better choice because of its reduced starch content. This feature makes it less likely to cause digestive discomfort.
- If you prefer a minimally processed, whole-food option, choose raw maca powder as it maintains its original nutrient profile.
Taste and Usage in Recipes
When it comes to taste, raw maca powder has a more earthy and bitter flavour similar to a raw potato. This unique taste might take a bit of time to get used to, but it can be easily masked when added to smoothies or other recipes.
Gelatinized maca has a slightly milder and less bitter taste compared to raw maca, making it more palatable for some people. It dissolves more easily in liquids, making it a favourable option for smoothies and shakes.
In the end, choosing between raw maca or gelatinized maca will depend on your personal taste preferences, as well as your individual health goals and digestive system’s tolerance for these superfoods. Experiment with both types of maca to find the one that best suits your needs and palate.
In the end, the choice between raw and gelatinized maca depends on your personal preferences and digestive needs. Raw maca is the most natural form, retaining all of its nutrients and enzymes in their original state. It may be suitable for individuals who prefer consuming whole, unprocessed foods and have no problem digesting the starches present in raw maca.
On the other hand, gelatinized maca has undergone a heat treatment process that breaks down the starch content, making it easier to digest for those who may experience gas, bloating, and discomfort from consuming raw maca. The nutritional profile of gelatinized maca is nearly identical to raw maca, making it a viable option for those seeking the same benefits without the potential digestive issues.
Both forms of maca offer numerous health benefits, such as increased libido, boosted fertility, and enhanced endurance. When selecting between raw and gelatinized maca, consider your individual health needs, preferences, and digestive tolerance.
If you are unsure, it’s best to experiment with both forms to determine which one works best for you and provides optimal results.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of gelatinised maca compared to raw?
Gelatinised maca undergoes a process that removes its starch content, making it easier to digest than raw maca. It is also believed to be more concentrated with nutrients.
While they both contain similar nutritional profiles, the gelatinisation process might enhance some of the medicinal properties of maca.
How does the processing of maca affect its nutritional value?
The gelatinisation process involves heating maca at high temperatures, which breaks down its starch content and increases the bioavailability of nutrients.
This process does not significantly alter the nutritional content of maca, but it might improve the absorption of certain nutrients in the body due to reduced starch content.
Can individuals with digestive issues consume gelatinised maca?
Yes, gelatinised maca is particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive digestive systems or those with difficulty digesting starches.
The gelatinisation process removes most of the starch content from maca, making it easier on the stomach and improving overall digestion.
What is the recommended dosage for consuming gelatinised maca?
The recommended dosage for gelatinised maca can vary depending on individual needs and preferences. Start with a small amount, such as 1 to 2 teaspoons per day, and increase gradually if needed.
As always, consult your healthcare professional for personalised advice on dosage, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition.
Which form of maca is more bioavailable – powder or capsules?
The bioavailability of maca might not significantly differ between powder and capsule forms.
However, choosing a high-quality maca supplement, whether in powder or capsule form, is critical for obtaining maximum benefits.
When using maca powder, opt for gelatinised maca, as it generally has better digestibility and nutrient absorption compared to raw maca powder.
Is the gelatinisation process suitable for a vegan diet?
Yes, the gelatinisation process is suitable for a vegan diet. Contrary to its name, gelatinised maca does not contain gelatin or any animal-derived ingredients.
The term “gelatinisation” refers to the process that removes starch content, not the presence of gelatin. Therefore, gelatinised maca is a vegan-friendly option.