The ‘superfood’ you’ve never heard of that supposedly gives you a bum that rivals Kim Kardashian’s AND boosts your sex life all for £5 (but the experts aren’t convinced)
- Capsules and powders containing the root vegetable are available for just £5
- But experts warned there is ‘little evidence’ to prove its ‘effectiveness and safety’
It’s supposed to give you a perky bottom, echoing the curves of Kim Kardashian and co.
But doctors are now warning that maca — dubbed the superfood you’ve never heard of — might not be all that good.
Capsules and powders containing the root vegetable, only found deep inside the Peruvian Andes, are flogged online for as little as £5.
As well as being sold with promises of creating a bigger bum and wider hips, sellers also claim maca can boost fertility and improve mood.
Yet experts today warned that there is ‘little evidence’ to prove these claims.
Capsules and powders containing the root vegetable, only found deep inside the Peruvian Andes, are flogged online for as little as £5
Adverts online flogging the powder also claim the supplement can help improve curviness and enhance ‘wider hips’. In one advert on ebay, seller @lafruta, which has sold over 6,000 items, claimed users should take ‘three units per day, before meals if possible’. The two month supply of pills ‘just for women’ was priced at approximately £39.61 ($51.48)
In another advert from the same seller, a 8.9oz (252g) three month supply of the powder promised a ‘bigger booty’, ‘wider hips’ and ‘thicker legs’
Maca boasts an impressive nutritional profile, including fibre, essential amino acids, vitamin C, copper and iron.
The root of the plant is either taken as a capsule or more commonly dried and ground into a fine powder, which can be added to smoothies, juices, baked goods and plant-based milk.
Used as a natural remedy for 2,000 years to treat ailments such as respiratory conditions and joint problems, limited research has also shown the root powder may improve sexual function and fertility.
A 2010 review found that maca could improve erectile dysfunction in men and may have a positive effect on sexual function in menopausal women by increasing energy levels.
In 2020, scientists in Spain, who tested its effect on 69 men, with half taking 2g a day for 12 weeks, found that it boosted sperm counts — though there were no effects on semen volume or mobility.
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Israeli researchers, who examined data on 3,001 people, found around a quarter of men and nearly four in ten women who had a ‘healthy’ body mass index (BMI) had so much body fat that they should be classed as obese
Adverts online flogging the powder also claim the supplement can help improve curviness and enhance ‘wider hips’.
In one advert on ebay, seller @lafruta, which has sold over 6,000 items, claimed users should take ‘three units per day, before meals if possible’ to help ‘boost stamina, increase muscle mass’ and relieve stress.
The two month supply of pills ‘just for women’ priced around £40 ($53) would also help ‘grow your hips and booty’, it said.
The packaging did not clarify the quantity of a ‘unit’.
In another advert from the same seller, a 8.9oz (252g) three month supply of the powder promised a ‘bigger booty’, ‘wider hips’ and ‘thicker legs’.
The 75-day supply costing approximately £31 ($41) could also ‘protect against osteoporosis’, it claimed.
However, Joshua Gibbs, a plant-based nutrition researcher at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline: ‘I wouldn’t recommend anyone take maca supplements currently for two main reasons.
‘First, despite a handful of studies showing improved sexual function, including improvements in sexual desire and erectile dysfunction, the number of trials and the total sample size are too small to draw firm conclusions on the effectiveness and safety of the supplement.
‘This is compounded by poor methodological quality, limiting how certain we can be of the findings.
‘More robust studies are needed before we can make confident recommendations.’
He added: ‘Second, maca has been reported to induce psychological symptoms, such as mood changes, anxiety, hallucinations, and even addictive behaviours, in some people.
‘Overall, the potential benefits of maca supplementation do not outweigh the risks at this point in time.’
But the supplement has become a firm favourite of some Hollywood stars.
Friends star Jennifer Aniston and Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr have both previously revealed to using the powder, blending it into smoothies.
Friends star Jennifer Aniston (left) and Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr (right) have both previously revealed to using the powder, blending it into smoothies
The advert on ebay, by seller @lafrutato also claimed the root vegetable could help ‘boost stamina, increase muscle mass’ and relieve stress
The 75-day supply of maca costing approximately £31.30 ($40.68) could also ‘protect against osteoporosis’, the ebay seller claimed
It’s supposed to give you a perky bottom, echoing the curves of Kim Kardashian (pictured) and co. But doctors are now warning that maca — dubbed the superfood you’ve never heard of — is merely snake oil
In an interview with Well+Good in 2021, Ms Anniston said she whips up chocolate almond milk, cinnamon, cacao, matcha powder and spinach with maca berry.
Ms Kerr told Net-A-Porter in 2013 that she includes maca powder in her morning shake as it’s ‘really energising and revitalising’. She also adds coconut water, acai and raw cacao powder, goji berries, spirulina, chia seeds and vegan rice powder.
Videos on TikTok extorting the benefits of the ‘hormone balancing supplement’ and ‘holy grail of fertility’ have also wracked up over 3.3million views on the platform.
In one video viewed over 17,000 times, @rachelsheppick, who boasts over 57,000 followers and 6.6million likes, claimed the supplement was a ‘power plant’.
‘Want a higher sex drive? Drink maca. Improve [your] mood and energy? Drink maca,’ she wrote.
She added: ‘Produce a higher sperm count? Drink maca. Help manage anxiety and depression? Drink maca.’
Meanwhile, in a video watched over 18,000 times @luisafranzen claimed the ‘superfood’ is ‘amazing for womens health’.
The powder is ‘amazing for when you go through stressful times’ and ‘helps with your concentration and calms down your nervous system’, she said.
However, Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston University also told MailOnline: ‘There are lots of claims about maca being a superfood.
‘However almost all of this work is from animals, mainly in rats and mice with almost no evidence from human studies.
‘There is little evidence with respect to dosage and side effects.’
A 2012 clinical trial by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — which forms part of the US National Institutes of Health — also suggested that while side effects of the powder are ‘uncommon and mild’, it may trigger gastrointestinal symptoms and headaches.
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