Why You Should Only Consume Cooked or Gelatinised Maca…
Maca is a carbohydrate-rich root vegetable with a high starch content. In some ways this makes it similar to a potato. In Peru maca bulbs or tubers are traditionally cooked (not eaten raw) the maca is either boiled in a soup or grated into fine pieces and boiled as a tea or a porridge.
Raw maca is likely to attract mould and the particular mould that commonly grows on maca produces highly toxic chemicals called aflatoxins. These aflatoxins are carcinogenic and even tiny doses can cause serious, negative long term health affects. The way to kill mould and remove its toxins is to cook and therefore sanitise the maca.
Dr Gustavo F. Gonzales who heads the Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences and High Altitude Research at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia has published a comprehensive biochemical review of maca: these studies show that the health benefits are not diminished by heating and cooking processes, but are in fact, enhanced. The active components responsible for most of the medicinal benefits of maca (FAAH inhibitors, FFA’s and other metabolites) are heat activated. So if you are eating raw maca it is likely you will not be getting the health benefits you are seeking.
Because raw maca root contains high levels of starch (amylose and amylopectin) it can be difficult to digest if eaten raw. Some people may experience symptoms like bloating, gas, distention and abdominal discomfort.
You will notice that the quality brands of maca powder are ‘gelatinised’. This has nothing to do with gelatin (so your maca remains vegan), instead it is the name for a modern pre-cooking process that activates your maca powder and makes it ready to use straight out of the packet. You can add it to raw baking, stir it into tea without having to go through the process of boiling it yourself.
The gelatinisation process involves introducing water, which is absorbed by the plentiful starch in the maca. The maca is then heated and pressurized to a point where the starch molecules dissolve. This starch-depleted maca is then dried.
The texture and flavour of gelatinised (pre-cooked) maca powder is sweeter, caramel-like and palatable. Raw maca has a more tart taste and often forms grainy starch sediments in solution when it’s not cooked.
Read More in depth articles on this topic and listen to commentary from Maca expert, Dr Corin Storkey (PhD Medicinal Chemistry) of Seleno Health HERE