What Is Maca Good For?

Medically Reviewed on 10/6/2021
what is maca good for
Despite various claims about the benefits of maca, there is a lack of enough scientific evidence to support the use of maca for medicinal purposes

Maca has been used since ancient times for various health and medicinal purposes. Despite various claims about its benefits, however, there is a lack of enough scientific evidence to support the use of maca for medicinal purposes. 

Due to this lack of evidence, avoid taking maca as a supplement unless your doctor recommends doing so. Some of the proposed uses of maca include the treatment of:

What is maca?

The maca plant, also called Peruvian ginseng, belongs to the mustard family which includes other vegetables, such as radish, turnip, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. The plant is native to the Andes mountains of Peru. The underground part of maca (called hypocotyl) is used as food, and it is available commercially in powdered form. 

Four main varieties of maca are grown in the Peruvian region: red, black, purple, and cream. These varieties are considered nutritionally similar and are sold in various parts of the world as “superfoods.” Maca powder has a nutty or earthy flavor and can be added to smoothies, soups, juices, salads, and baked products. 

Besides powder, maca is commercially available as liquid extracts, capsules, tablets, and as an additive in certain cocoa powder brands. Maca is used to improve soil fertility in agricultural practices.

A tablespoon of maca powder (about 8 grams) contains:

  • Energy: 30 kcal
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugars: 4 grams
  • Cholesterol: None
  • Calcium: 20 mg
  • Iron: 0.4 mg
  • Potassium: 130 mg


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Are there any side effects of maca?

Maca is generally safe when consumed as a food. It is well tolerated by most healthy people and may be safe when taken as a supplement in amounts up to 3 grams a day for up to 4 months. 

If, however, you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have underlying health conditions, you should talk to your doctor before taking maca supplements. Maca should be avoided by people with thyroid conditions because maca may cause thyroid gland enlargement (goiter). 

Because maca can alter hormone levels, it should also be avoided by people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. Maca has been reported to cause heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding and raised testosterone levels in some women.

Some people have reported side effects  such as mood disturbances, altered menstrual cycles, cramp, gastritis, and sleep disturbances (insomnia) after maca consumption.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 10/6/2021
RxList. Maca. https://www.rxlist.com/maca/supplements.htm

Peace Health. Maca. https://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/hn-4392007

Food Data Central. Maca Powder. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/691066/nutrients

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Maca. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/maca