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The Truth About Maca and Your Libido

Can this Peruvian herb improve your sex life?
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A Staple in Peruvian Diet

Maca is an Andean root, referred to as an herb. It's a starchy tuber that resembles a radish or a turnip but tastes more like a potato. Like other starches, maca contains carbohydrates, protein, fats, and dietary fiber. It is also rich in plant sterols and a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium.

In Peru, out of necessity, maca has been a staple in the diet of men, women, children, infants, pregnant and lactating women, elderly, and the infirm. Only two crops grow in the higher elevations in Peru: potatoes and maca.

Maca can be cooked and mashed; mixed with milk; and dried, ground, and powdered into something that resembles flour that is used in breads, cakes, and cookies.

In the Andes, people typically eat about half a pound of maca daily, Kilham says.

Is Maca Safe?

A growing demand for maca has resulted in a wide variety of products both online and in health food stores promoted with claims of sexual health and stamina-enhancement. Maca claims, however, like claims for other dietary supplements, are not reviewed or approved by the FDA.

Kilham says the safety of maca is evidenced by the millions of people who subside on a diet of it without side effects.

Berman agrees that it is probably safe since there have been no reports of adverse effects from eating maca.

Maca may be a natural product, but talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. There are always potential side effects, including those from processing.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

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