Maca belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family alongside broccoli, cauliflower, and kale and has traditionally been used both medicinally and as a food in its native Peruvian Andes mountain range Over the last few decades, maca, most commonly the maca root in its powdered form, has grown in popularity around the world as an adaptogen ( a natural plant or mushroom that supports the body’s abilty to handle physical and emotional stress and resistance to diseases), sold in health food stores such as Whole Foods Market. Maca is packed with important nutrients, from 19 essential amino acids, Vitamins such as A, B1,B2,B3, C, and D, to minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Evidence has shown that the consumption of maca can help provide sustained energy throughout the day without the jittery crash associated with caffeine. Maca can also help boost athletic performance, especially for endurance sports, by supporting sustained energy and stamina. In addition, maca can help balance hormones in both women and men and consequently further support energy levels. For women, maca can help reduce symptoms of menopause and PMS and aid fertility. For men, maca can help boost libido (sexual desire) and sperm count in men. In terms of taste, maca is earthy and nutty, with undertones of malty caramel or butterscotch, and can be added to foods such as smoothies, oatmeal, lattés, pancakes/waffles, and even baked goods.
Cacao is the unprocessed starting block of chocolate and unlike most chocolate bars and cocoa powder, which are chemically processed and roasted, destroying much of the nutrients, is full of antioxidants and flavanols, iron, magnesium, calcium, to name a few. Raw cacao is one of world’s richest sources of magnesium, which optimizes body’s use of oxygen and helps turn glucose into energy, thus helping to increase energy levels and boost metabolism and burn calories. In addition, cacao contains flavanols that inprove blood flow to the brain and a substance called PEA (phenylethylamine), both of which can raise energy levels, alertness, and concentration. Cacao is also a rich source of plant-based iron and can consequently help combat the fatigue and lack of energy associated with iron-deficiency anemia. Furthermore, cacao is a natural mood elevator and anti-depressant, which in turn can increase motivation and energy to be productive: Cacao contains 4 scientifically proven chemicals-seratonin, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylethylamine-linked to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Finally, the active stimulant in cacao, theobromine, acts in a similar manner as caffeine, but has a gentler and more sustained impact on the body. Raw cacao can be consumed in powder form or as cacao nibs (crumbled bits of dried cacao beans) from health food stores in smoothies, oatmeal, hot chocolate, baked goods, and anything that calls for a chocolatey flavor.
Matcha is the powdered form of green tea leaves traditionally consumed in East Asia. Because the whole tea leaves are consumed as opposed to being steeped then strained as in green tea, matcha contains a much more concentrated dose of nutrients. Match is packed full of beneficial compounds such as the catechin EGCG, which is responsible for the anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties of matcha. In comparison to the jittery energy provided by coffee, matcha provides a more stable and even-keeled supply of energy, partly due to its L-theanine content, an amino acid that helps the body produce calming neurotransmitters that offset the caffeine. For drinking on its own, ceremonial grade matcha is recommended because it is the highest quality grade of matcha and the least bitter, while culinary matcha is better suited for foods such as baked goods in which the matcha taste will not be as noticeable.
Cordyceps is an medicinal mushroom used for many centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat fatigue, illness, kidney disease, and low sex drive, and has since grown in popularity throughout the world as an adaptogen with many purported health benefits, including increased energy and athletic performance., and anti-cancer and anti-aging effects. For one, cordyceps are thought to increase the body’s production of ATP, which helps convert food into energy and is essential for delivering energy to the muscles, which can improve the way the body uses oxygen, especially during exercise. This increased availability of oxygen to the muscles has been shown to improve endurance and promote faster recovery from exercise, or simply help non-athletes cope with the physical and mental demands of every day life. Cordyceps are commonly found in capsule, tablet, or tincture form as a supplemet, or as a powder to be added to foods such as lattés and smoothies.
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