Whole Food Center


The history of maca

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is an annual herbaceous plant of the Brassicaceae family, native to the region of Junin, Peru. It grows within the range of 3,500 – 4,500m where the extreme conditions provide little competition within the soil from other plants. The cultivation of maca dates back to the days of the Pre-Columbian Inca who would refer to the plant as the ‘food of the gods’ due to its medicinal properties. Legend says that the Inca were in search of gold in the mountains of San Blas (near Junin) when they came across a cave (the Cradle of Pachamacay) containing a mummified body buried  with no more than a simple box of seeds from a mysterious plant. They cultivated the seeds into the resulting maca bulb and so began a 2000-year history that would play a vital role within their evolution and culture. It is said the Inca would trade in maca as currency and that they valued it even more than gold itself. They claimed the gods had given them maca to ensure life-long health, fertility and strength. It is believed that Incan warriors would consume up to 200g per day before battle to help with stamina and endurance at altitude. Shamans would use boiled preparations for the  treatment of fertility for both humans and animals and noble elites in the society would consume maca daily for longevity and well-being. Today the harvest of maca continues to celebrate the plant through a month-long festival that gives thanks to Pachamama (mother earth) for providing them with the Incan medicine. The opening of this festival is held annually in Junin at the original site of cultivation, in front of the cave at the Cradle of Pachamacay. The ceremony
consists of a blessing from a local shaman, followed by stories, song and dance from representatives of the different maca growing regions within Junin. Each region has their own unique way to celebrate maca, including street festivals,
music, ceremonies and feasts in the form of pachamanca (food cooked underground – similar to a New Zealand Hangi). For these people, maca is not merely a plant - it is a culture, tradition, history and way of life.

The colors of maca

Maca comes in 3 main colours, with each colour having different unique properties. All 3 colours are cultivated from the same seed crop, so in essence you cannot independently cultivate a single colour. This leaves you at the mercy of genetic phenotype dominance and a set ratio of approximately 70% yellow maca, 20% red maca and 10% black maca after harvest. The shamans claim this is not by chance, but more about how ‘she’ (la maca) wants to you consume her. As such, the 3 different colours are prepared and taken differently depending on the body’s requirements and condition(s) being treated. Yellow is for daily use and long-term balance, red and black are sacred and saved for acute or chronic therapeutic use.

Yellow Maca is the most abundant of the 3 colours and is claimed to be the neutral form that should be taken daily and used for long-term balance and resilience to stress. Scientifically, we know that yellow maca has the most broad and general array of macamides and other bioactives. 

Red Maca is more rare and is thought to be more sacred and saved for acute treatment of constitutional imbalances. Red is considered feminine and can promote internal balance for those lacking in internal nourishment.

Black Maca is the rarest form of maca and is thought to be the most sacred and saved for acute treatment of constitutional insufficiencies. Black is considered masculine and can promote external strength, power, stamina and brain function.

Maca naturally grows in a mixed ratio of colours. It is important to combine the colours following the traditional uses to ensure optimum effect. These are the rules that have been followed for thousands of years in Peru by the shamans and the rules we want to promote for those wanting to get the best out of their maca.

Why your maca should not be raw -

In Junin, maca bulbs are always dried before being boiled in teas, porridge, soups or stews. In recent times, dry maca has also been ground into powders to increase surface area and to allow easier inclusion into various meals. The Inca
believed that cooking maca made it more potent as a therapeutic and more easily digestible. Why does maca need to be cooked? Science has shown that the bioactive macamides in maca are heat activated molecules. Their formation occurs from breakdown of heat sensitive glucosinolates in the fresh bulb during the drying and cooking processes. Our studies 
have shown that cooked maca is more bioactive than its raw counterpart. Futhermore, it is sanitized, lower in starch and much easier on the stomach.

Raw maca root can contain high levels of aflatoxin producing mold. Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens (cancer causing) and can have serious negative effects on the body and gastrointestinal system. Raw maca also contains high levels of starch (amylose and amylopectin). Starch can often be hard to digest if eaten raw and may give some people  symptoms such as bloating, gas, distention and abdominal discomfort. Think of it like eating a raw potato. Maca has always been traditionally cooked or heated and studies show that the health benefits are not diminished by these processes, if anything they are enhanced. If you are eating raw maca, you may not be getting the benefits you desire.

Why we chose Seleno Health

Seleno Health's maca is direct from farm to table. They and their volunteers help harvest and plant maca in Peru with their farmer and family. They empower their farmer to create a complete product, not just a powdered commodity. They then buy each bag direct from the farmer and profit share together in partnership. The farmer receives almost 20x more per kg than selling in bulk to a broker. They run community and developmental programs funded by their profits, fund-raising initiatives and donations. They give back to community and create a better quality of life for all. They run a volunteer program that brings eco-tourists to the farm to assist our farmer and our local community and school. This experience shares the incredible culture and history of maca and gives people the opportunity to connect with their food and the community that produces it. They specialize in maca. They have industry knowledge, product knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms behind maca’s benefits. They also conduct a research program at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) which investigates the bioactive components in maca.

You can find more information about Seleno Health's Peruvian volunteer program here.

Maca Recipes

As with all herbs & foods, the dosage and time necessary to notice the positive effects of maca will vary from person to person. Some of the effects may be felt within the first week, but for the more long-term benefits, it is advised to take maca regularly for 4-8+ weeks. To assist you with some delicious and simple ways you can incorporate maca into your daily routine, Seleno Health has created recipes that can be quickly and easily prepared at home. We hope you enjoy our maca and feel a connection with the land and the people of Peru every time you use it.

In Peru, they say “She has strength and resilience unsurpassed by no other. Her journey is sacred and blessed. You must respect her and the way she wants to be nurtured and grown. If you follow her rules and prepare her in the way she requires then she will instill her properties to you” (la maca – she).

Citrus Maca Smoothie

1" piece fresh ginger root
3-4 oranges - juiced
1-2 cups of frozen pineapple pieces
1 cup of coconut yoghurt
1-1.5 tsp of Seleno Health Maca Powder
Pinch of cinnamon

First, peel and slice the ginger root into small pieces. Then cut the oranges into halves and juice them.  Next, combine all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Ensure you slowly sprinkle in the Maca powder so that it blends well and doesn’t clump. Optional toppings include propolis grains, cinnamon powder or coconut shavings.

Chocolate Maca Milkshake

1-1.5 cups almond, rice or coconut milk
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk or cream,
pre-frozen in an ice cube tray
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean
1 tbsp Seleno Health Chocolate Maca
1 large pitted date or 1 tbsp of honey
1 small frozen banana
1 tbsp of toasted coconut or almond shavings
1 tbsp of crushed chocolate pieces

Freeze organic full fat coconut milk into ice
cubes. Freeze a small ripe peeled banana.
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend
until smooth. Garnish with toasted coconut
and crushed chocolate pieces.

Healthy Maca Pancakes

1 very ripe banana
1/2 cup of desired milk
1 cup of spelt or buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean
1 organic free range egg
1-1.5 tsp of Organic Seleno Health Maca Powder or Chocolate Maca 

handful of blueberries and walnuts

Combine banana, vanilla and milk into a high speed blender until a smooth liquid. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and Seleno Health Organic Maca or Chocolate Maca Powder. Pour the banana milk mix into the dry ingredients then whisk through with the egg until just combined. Using 1/4 cup scoop, form pancakes onto prepared pan over low heat. Turn over after about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook another 1 minute or so, until cooked through. Serve with blueberries, walnuts and optional coconut cream and maple syrup.

Creamy Maca Latte

1 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp Seleno Health Maca Powder
Pinch of cardamom and cinnamon

Warm almond milk, then add all
ingredients to a blender. Blend until
lightly foamy on top. Serve warm with a
sprinkle of cinnamon.

Chocolate Maca Bliss Bites

1 cup of pitted dates
1/4 cup of Seleno Health Chocolate Maca powder
1 cup of desiccated coconut
2-3 tbsp of coconut oil or water

Extra coconut for rolling

Place the dates and coconut in a high speed
blender or food processor until combined. Add Seleno Health Chocolate Maca powder and oil/water. Blend. Remove mixture from the blender and roll into balls, then roll in extra coconut. Store in an airtight container.

Peruvian Mountain Stew

2 red onions and 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp of tomato paste
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
3 lbs chicken legs and thighs
1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp oregano
4 vine ripened tomatoes
3/4 lb cremini mushrooms
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf and 1 sprig of thyme
1-1.5 tsp of Organic Seleno Health Maca Powder
1 tsp of cornstarch
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 onion with 2 tbsps of olive oil, the tomato paste and red wine vinegar in a large bowl. Rub the mix into the chicken pieces and leave to marinate overnight. Fry 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic with 1 tbsp of olive oil, the paprika and oregano. Add the marinated chicken and sear until browning. Add the finely chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, white wine, bay leaf and simmer (45-60 mins). Finally, mix the maca and  cornstarch thoroughly in 1/4 cup of water until thick. Add to the stew and season with salt, pepper and thyme.

Inca Tea

3 sticks of cinnamon
6 cloves
1 tbsp rolled oats or quinoa (optional)
1 litre of boiling water
1-2 tbsp of Organic Seleno Health
Maca Powder

Take the cinnamon and cloves and add
to boiling water in a pot. Stir and simmer
for 15-20 minutes. Add the Seleno Health
Maca powder to a small amount of cold
water to create a paste before adding to
the boiling tea. (Optionally add oats or
soaked quinoa at this point for creamier
tea). Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Remove cinnamon and cloves. Optional extras: milk, honey, raw sugar.

Flourless Chocolate Maca Cake

3 eggs, separated in yolks and whites
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp of honey
1/4 cup of avocado or melted coconut oil
2 large mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup of almond flour
2-3 tbsp of Seleno Health Organic
Chocolate Maca Powder
Serve with coconut yoghurt or cream & fresh fruit

Blend egg yolks, honey, and salt on
medium for 1 minute. Slowly add oil and mashed banana and blend for 1 minute further. Slowly blend in Seleno Health Chocolate Maca Powder and almond flour. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites to stiff peaks then gently fold contents of the blended mix into bowl with egg whites. Once
it is an even consistency pour into a
greased 8" cake pan and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All content found on, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or otherwise qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. If not provided, sources are always available upon request.

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