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Health Benefits of Black Maca

Healthy: Black Maca

Black maca is a healthy root vegetable that has been cultivated and used in Peru for hundreds of years. In North America and Europe, black maca root is sold in dried, powdered form in health food stores. The skin of black maca root is gray, but that's hardly the only thing that sets it apart from other common varieties of maca such as red and yellow maca: scientific studies have shown that different types of maca also have different health benefits. In this article, we take a look at the wonderful health benefits of black maca.

A Natural Fertility Booster

Maca has been shown to improve sperm count and sperm motility in healthy adult men [1], an observation that lends credence to the long-held belief that maca can boost fertility in men. However, when it comes to enhancing fertility, some types of maca may be better than others. A study conducted on rats found that black maca had a more beneficial effect on sperm counts and sperm motility than did yellow maca, and that red maca had no effect [2, 3].

Energy-Boosting Properties

Black maca has long been used as a remedy for low energy levels in Peru, and now there's scientific evidence to prove it actually works, at least in some people. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals found that consumption of black maca for 12 weeks increased self-perception of energy in men and women living in Lima, the capital of Peru.

It is worth noting, though, that the energy-boosting effects of black maca, which was also tested in this study, were not as strong as those of red maca. What's more, the energy-boosting effects of neither red nor black maca differed significantly from the effects of the placebo in people living in Cerro de Pasco, a city located in the Andean mountains. According to the researchers, this observation might be linked to the role genetic signatures play in how people respond to placebo. [4]

Protection Against Bone Loss

One of the most-touted health benefits of red maca for women is its ability to reduce the risk of common post-menopausal health problems such estrogen deficiency-induced osteoporosis, but also black maca may have some benefits. In one study, estrogen-deficient female rats were given either yellow, red or black maca for four weeks, after which the researchers analyzed the rats' bones. Both black and red maca seemed to provide protection against bone loss in the rats, but yellow maca did not. [5] Whether these results translate to humans is unclear and requires further research.

Mood-Enhancing Properties

Many people swear by black maca powder as a natural mood enhancer, but are there any scientific studies that support the claims? Turns out, there has been at least one placebo-controlled trial investigating the effects of maca powder supplementation on psychological problems in humans. Published in the journal Menopause, this study found that a daily dose of maca powder over a period of six weeks caused a significant reduction in anxiety and depression scores in postmenopausal women. [6] However, it is not clear whether this study used black maca or another variety.

In another study, scientists from Peru analyzed the effects of yellow, red and black maca on learning and depression in female mice whose ovaries had been removed. They found that all three types of maca had significant anti-depressant activity (but black maca root appeared to have more beneficial effects on latent learning) [7].

Effects on Memory and Learning

Black maca has been shown to exert beneficial effects on learning and memory in animal models. It has been shown to improve learning and memory in ovariectomized mice [8, 9] and to correct scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice [10]. These effects are thought to be linked, at least in part, to its antioxidant activities as well as to its ability to inhibit an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of certain compounds that function as neurotransmitters. [11].