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Superfood Spotlight: Maca Powder

Parsing out what's what with this ancient root.

Spirulina, chia, flax, acai, camu powder and the list of superfoods goes on and on. Juice bars and health store menus are riddled with good-for-you ingredients, but when it comes right down to it, what do they actually do?

In this new series, we’ll talk with nutritionists and other wellness experts to parse out what’s what with food that’s trending in the health communities.

First up: Maca powder.

What is it? Maca is a root in the raddish family. It’s harvested from South American countries like Peru and ground into a powder. You can throw it in smoothies or get it in health bars.

What do people say it does? Claims are broad: some users have said that it does everything from boost energy to aid with menstrual issues to clear acne.

What does the label say? It has B Vitamins, amino acids, and vitamins like iron and potassium.

Dallas nutritionist says: We talked to Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN at Cooper Clinic. She said that maca powder is new to the scene, so there aren’t many studies yet.

“I have seen a lot of claims saying it improves energy—that’s a broad claim—but then other claims like boosting the immune system start to make me nervous,” she says. “Maca powder is a food source and has potassium, B vitamins, and as a carb root it has decent amount of sugars.”

The Verdict: With a hefty price tag, Zerner would feel more comfortable recommending seasonal pumpkin, cranberries, and tart cherries.

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