OK, this one took me by surprise. Why does a cruciferous root vegetable from Peru deserve hype? It is being touted as a new “superfood” (a moniker that has absolutely no true medical backup, it’s just a sound byte to make you buy things). Reading further revealed the kicker: “possible virility enhancer”. Aha.
So maca, (not to be confused with matcha – a green tea, which also has antioxidant etc. benefits, but more on that another time)… is a South American, Andean, Peruvian root vegetable that has been cultivated for eons. It is known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, and is related to radishes and turnips. This is enough for me to tout it’s worthiness as a crucifer. Not to mention it’s frost-tolerance, self- fertilization and short growing season. But it does deplete the soil and requires either rotation or heavy fertilization. In S. America, this is done with alpaca manure. Apart from being a local staple vegetable, it seems unremarkable until someone with marketing background read some history about Incan warriors consuming a lot of it before going into battle and then – uh oh, protect the women. So the male supplement industry has been capitalizing on this story and selling powdered maca root as a male sexual performance enhancer. (Insert much eye rolling on my part here.) Not enough research has been done to either confirm or deny these claims, so I’d say consume fresh local cruciferous vegetables, stay active and hydrated and your performance will likely be just fine.