Maca Powder Vs. Maca Root

Maca is an ancient Andean superfood that has been used for centuries in Peru for its many health benefits. It comes from the root of the maca plant, which grows high up in the mountains of Peru.

Maca Powder Vs. Maca Root

Today, maca is available in two main forms - maca powder made from dried and ground maca roots, and maca root which can be purchased whole, cut or sliced. But which offers more benefits - maca powder or maca root?

What is Maca?

Maca is a nutritious root vegetable that grows high up in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. It has been cultivated and consumed by native Peruvians for at least 2000 years, prized for its ability to boost energy, stamina and overall vitality.

The maca root vegetable belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and beneficial plant compounds.

Once harvested, the maca roots are dried and ground into a fine powder which is the most common form found today. The dried roots can also be sold whole, cut or sliced.

Both maca powder and whole maca roots offer some incredible health benefits, but they are produced slightly differently. Let's analyze those key differences in more detail.

Key Takeaway: Maca is a nutritious Andean superfood vegetable from Peru that offers many health benefits. The two main forms available today are maca powder and whole maca root.

Key Differences Between Maca Powder and Maca Root

Maca PowderMaca Root
Made from dried, ground whole maca rootsThe whole, raw maca root vegetable
Most common form sold and consumedLess common but sometimes sold whole, cut or sliced
Easier to digestContains more fiber
Sweeter, more palatable tasteStronger, more bitter taste
Needs less storage spaceBulky to store
Lasts longerFreshness declines faster
Lower cost per gramHigher cost for same nutrition

Production Process

Maca powder undergoes an extra production step compared to the whole roots. After the maca roots are harvested from the nutrient-dense volcanic soil in the Andes, they are left out to dry naturally under the sun.

The dried roots are then ground into a very fine powder using advanced milling techniques. This powdering process helps break down the tough cellulose in the roots, making the nutrients more bioavailable and easier to digest by the body compared to the whole roots.

On the other hand, whole maca roots are simply harvested, cleaned and dried. The roots can then be sold whole, cut or sliced, retaining all their natural fiber. As a result, the whole roots are tougher to digest compared to the pre-processed powder.


During the drying and powdering process for maca powder, the roots develop a slightly sweeter, more palatable taste compared to the fresh roots. The powder can have hints of butterscotch, caramel or malt flavors.

Whole or cut maca roots, on the other hand, have maintained their natural strong, earthier and more pungent taste which some people find quite bitter and harsh on the palate.

Shelf Life

Thanks to being finely ground and containing less moisture, maca powder lasts much longer than the whole roots. Kept in a sealed container away from sunlight, maca powder will stay fresh for 6 months to 1 year.

The whole maca roots, however, have a shorter shelf life of around 3-4 months when properly stored. If left at room temperature or exposed to sunlight, they can lose their potency and health benefits much quicker.


When comparing the cost per gram, maca powder works out to be more affordable than purchasing the whole vegetable by weight. As only the roots are used to produce maca powder, there is no wastage compared to the leaves and stems that would be discarded from whole maca roots.

You also get the benefit of easier storage with maca powder - it requires far less space than keeping bulky whole vegetables. Overall, maca powder offers better value for money than whole maca root.

The Many Health Benefits of Maca

Let's now examine some of the key health and wellness benefits offered by consuming maca:

1. Boosts Energy and Endurance

One of the main traditional uses for maca in Peru is to support enhanced energy, stamina and athletic performance. The locals would consume it before battle for an energizing lift. Studies have also shown improved endurance in athletes taking maca.

This is attributed to maca's high nutritional content including B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, iron and magnesium - all essential nutrients for energy production, oxygen transport and muscle function.

2. Supports Hormonal Balance

Maca has long been used in Peru to support hormonal balance in both men and women. The locals observed that regular consumption of maca helped regulate menstrual cycles and fertility.

Modern research has shown maca stimulates production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone hormones, while also supporting healthy hormone levels through its adaptogenic properties.

3. Enhances Mood and Relieves Stress

As an adaptogenic superfood, maca helps to strengthen and balance the adrenals and endocrine system. This modulating effect on hormones can relieve feelings of anxiety, depression and stress.

Maca also contains mood-enhancing compounds like serotonin and potassium, leading to an overall sense of wellbeing and calmness. Many people report a mood uplift from taking maca regularly.

4. Increases Libido

One of the most famous benefits of maca is its ability to boost libido and improve sexual function in both men and women. Scientists believe this aphrodisiac effect stems from specific compounds in maca called macamides and macaenes.

Taking maca results in increased energy levels and stamina, balanced hormones and enhanced fertility - all of which can heighten sexual desire and performance.

5. Improves Memory and Focus

Early studies indicate that maca may offer protective effects on brain health and cognition. Several trials found improved memory, focus and mental clarity in animals and humans taking maca.

The unique nutrition profile of maca, including antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins B, C and E, is thought to support optimal nervous system function and maintenance of healthy brain cells.

6. Eases Menopause Symptoms

For women going through menopause, maca can help balance hormones and alleviate unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings and more.

As maca gently stimulates estrogen production while also working as an adaptogenic herb, it is able to reduce the intensity and frequency of menopausal symptoms. Many women going through perimenopause and menopause can benefit from adding maca to their daily routine.

7. May Boost Fertility

Several studies have indicated that taking maca may help improve fertility outcomes in both men and women. For women, maca helps balance estrogen and progesterone while modulating the entire endocrine system - important for supporting a healthy pregnancy.

In men, maca has been shown to increase sperm count, sperm motility and semen volume which can raise the chances of conception. If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, maca may offer some fertility enhancing properties.

Which Offers More Benefits - Maca Powder vs Root?

Now that we have covered the key differences in how they are produced, their cost, shelf life and tasted, as well as the incredible health benefits offered by maca, you may be wondering - which form offers more benefits?

The truth is both forms provide exceptional nutritional value and wellness advantages thanks to maca's dense concentrations of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

In terms of bioavailability and absorption, however, the pre-processed maca powder is easier to break down and digest than the fibrous whole vegetable. So more people can benefit from maca when consuming it in powdered form.

Maca powder also provides more convenience in terms of storage life, use in recipes, portability and cost per gram compared to purchasing whole vegetables. For most consumers, organic maca powder makes the most sense for harnessing this superfood's amazing properties.

If you prefer a less processed, more natural state of fruits and vegetables, then the whole maca roots allow you to access this ancient botanical as close as possible to its original Andean form. Just be aware the fiber content and harsher flavor profile may be harder on your digestion.

Overall there is no right or wrong choice - both forms provide outstanding nutrition. Focus instead on choosing the highest quality produce from transparent, ethical suppliers to get the full spectrum of maca's health enhancing benefits.

Key Takeaway: Both maca powder and whole maca roots provide outstanding nutrition and health benefits. Maca powder offers easier digestion and absorption for most people along with convenience and affordability.

How To Pick The Best Quality Maca

The volcanic, mineral-dense soils of the Peruvian highlands provide the perfect conditions for growing the most nutritious, potent maca crops packed with health enhancing properties.

Unfortunately not all maca today comes from its native Peru. Lower quality maca is now farmed in China in high volumes using pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

When selecting a maca powder or whole maca root product, double check it is certified organic and was grown in Peru, not China. This ensures the maca is free from toxic residues while harnessing the most nutritious soil.

Many cheaper products mix maca from China with small amounts of Peruvian maca. Always check the label states "100% Grown in Peru" for true high quality.

For ultimate freshness and efficacy from whole maca roots, choose organic products that have been gently dried but NOT fumigated or irradiated. Fumigation destroys nutrients while irradiation damages enzymes and antioxidants in fresh produce.

For fair trade assurance, look for Peruvian suppliers that use traditional, ecological practices and partner directly with small local farms to lift rural communities out of poverty. Ethical, sustainable businesses ensure prime quality plus massive benefits for strugging villages.

When you choose organic, traditionally grown Peruvian maca through fair trade channels, you gain peace of mind that your maca offers exceptional safety, potency and holistic advantages for the planet.

Key Takeaway: Always choose organic maca that has been sustainably grown and ethically sourced from Peru to get the highest quality and nutritional potency.

How To Consume Maca

Thanks to its mildly nutty, sweet and caramel-like taste, maca powder blends extremely well into a variety of recipes and drinks for effortless, daily consumption:

  • Smoothies - Mix into your favorite smoothies and green powders without altering the flavor
  • Baked Goods - Add to cakes, muffins, brownies and energy balls
  • Hot Drinks - Blend into coffees, matcha lattes, hot chocolate for an uplifting start to your day
  • Cereals & Porridge - Delicious mixed into breakfast cereals, oats, chia puddings and granola
  • Protein Shakes - Combine with plant-based or whey proteins for an energizing nutrient boost
  • Soups & Stews - Add some to vegetable or meat soups and stews
  • Raw Desserts - Works beautifully in no-bake slices, protein balls and healthy ice cream recipes

For those who prefer an unprocessed food diet or want easier dosing, the whole maca roots can be boiled, roasted or baked until soft. Enjoy the roots as a simple vegetable alongside meals just like the indigenous Peruvians still do today in the villages of the Andes.

Optimal Maca Dosage

When using a maca powder supplement, a dosage of around 1-3 grams per day is recommended for general health and wellness benefits. This equates to roughly 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the powder.

Some studies investigating benefits for athletes, cognition, mood and menopause symptoms have used larger doses in the range of 3-5 grams daily. This has been shown to be safe and effective in most people.

If adding whole maca root to your meals, a good amount is 25-50 grams cooked weight, which amounts to a heaped tablespoon or so per serving.

Start conservatively with 1 gram of powder or 25 grams of the roots per day. If you don't experience any digestive discomfort, slowly increase your dose towards 5 grams powder or 50 grams of the boiled roots daily and assess your response.


Can you eat maca root raw?

It is not recommended to eat raw maca roots as they contain tough cellulose that make them hard to digest. Whole maca roots should always be boiled, baked or roasted first. Maca powder has been pre-treated through drying and fine grinding that breaks down the cellulose and releases key nutrients.

Which color maca is the healthiest?

The three main varieties of Peruvian maca are red, black and yellow. They each have very similar overall nutritional profiles. According to locals, the yellow maca is the most easily digestible while red maca is considered the sweetest tasting. All colors offer amazing health properties so try to incorporate all three for maximum benefits.

What happens if you have too much maca?

When taken at recommended dosages, both maca powder and whole maca root are considered very safe and non-toxic, even over long periods of time. Higher doses have not shown evidence of toxicity or safety issues. Minor side effects include upset stomach, diarrhea, headaches and difficulty sleeping at very high doses. Start low with conservative doses then slowly increase over days and weeks until you find your optimal personal dose.

Will maca give you more energy?

Yes, one of maca's best known benefits is the ability to give a significant energy boost within a few days or weeks of taking it regularly. With more B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, amino acids and unique energizing plant compounds called macamides, maca is an outstanding whole food source for greater energy, vitality and performance.


As you have learned in this guide, both maca root powder and whole maca roots are extremely nutritious forms of this revered Andean superfood. They offer a vast array of wellness benefits from better energy and cognition to enhanced fertility and endurance.

While the dried and powdered maca provides easier nutrient absorption thanks to broken down fibers, some may prefer consuming the less processed, whole food state of maca vegetable for purported digestion benefits.

Ultimately, the key is choosing an organic, verified Peruvian product rather than the color or format. This guarantees safety plus maximum concentrations of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds that generate maca's prized medicinal properties.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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