The Superfood that Boosts Your Sex Drive

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Superfoods seem to be popping up everywhere but which ones are truly… super?  Maca certainly has our attention!  Broadcast as a potent immune, memory, mood & fertility booster plus a virility or libido enhancer…hey it’s like 50 shades of grey in your glass!  Well, not exactly, but let’s break down the science of what maca is and why it’s so lovable.

Maca, not to be confused with the green tea based Matcha, is a root, like ginger & turmeric. You can learn more about matcha.  It’s also known as Lepidium meyenii.  Maca is grown in the Peruvian, Andes at high altitudes, and is now considered one of the country’s seven Peruvian flag products.  There are numerous types of maca root including black, red and white and yellow, which may be sold as powder, pill or liquid.  The powder form of  maca is most commonly seen as a “booster” or “enhancer” for juices and smoothies sold in the supplement/vitamin aisle at health food stores or at juice/smoothie bars.

So here are five reasons why this super powder should be in your kitchen:

  1. It’s a Powerhouse Cruciferous Plant
    The now coveted Brassica family also includes kale, broccoli & Brussels sprouts.  Cruciferous veggies have phytonutrients that help support our natural detoxification processes in the liver. Crucifers are also a key cancer preventive and survivorship promoting plant-based group with research highlighting breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer specifically.  These veggies contain naturally occurring compounds like Diindolylmethane (DIM) and Idole-3-carbinol, which may have beneficial effects on estrogen ratios in the body, to be less tumor promoting.
  1. Boosts Fertility
    A diet rich in fruits and veggies may help fertility, for men and women. For men, plant based eating, especially antioxidant rich fruits and veggies, are thought to help enable sperm to essentially “swim faster”.  Preliminary research on Maca shows that black maca root specifically, as compared to red, white or yellow, may have beneficial effects on sperm production.  Maca may also help to improve sperm motility and semen volume helping increase chances of conception.
  1. Gets You in “The Mood”
    Reindeer antler, Spanish fly and good ‘ole chocolate… what do these have in common?  Properties purported to help put you in “the mood”.  Maca could be the next natural aphrodisiac on the horizon as research shows it can increase sexual desire. Maca is certainly less expensive and safer to consume than certain aphrodisiac supplements, which can cause kidney damage or intestinal bleeding.Some anti-depressant medications can have unwanted effects of dampening libido.  Maca may be helpful to increase libido for men and women taking SSRI medications, like Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft.  Study participants taking 3 grams of Maca per day reported alleviation of their drug-induced sexual dysfunction based on the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale (ASEX).
  1. Pumps Up Your Energy
    A study of 50 men with mild erectile dysfunction given Maca supplements, found they reported feeling more significant positive effects of on their overall and sexual well-being after 12 weeks, compared to those taking a placebo.
  1. Puts a Smile on Your Face
    Maca isn’t just for men.  Post-menopausal women taking 3.5 grams of Maca per day reported reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction.

Here are some great Maca powder smoothies to try:

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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