Cuzco typical food: Andean Maca and Quinoa

22181i2-quinua macaAndean Maca

Peruvian Maca is considered to be a gods’ gift to the ancient Incas. A mysterious aura surrounds this magic plant grown by the local inhabitants in Peru’s territory according to the tradition they inherited from their Incas ancestors.

This radish-looking tuber is resistant enough to be grown at 4000 meters above sea level. The Peruvian Maca is a great source of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibers among other nutrients.

It is also known as Andean Maca and it is assumed to have many health-benefiting properties for the organism. It acts against diabetes, heart diseases, anemia, osteoporosis, although lately it has become popular because of its aphrodisiac and weight reducing effects.

Andean Maca can be taken as a powder, pills or the plant itself. It is easy to find it in powder in the central markets of Peru at a very reasonable price. In Cuzco it can be found in the San José and the San Blas markets as well as in the Markets of Wanchaq.

According to the legend, the ancient warriors of the Inca Empire used to take Andean Maca before a battle because of its energizing properties: it increased their strength and resistance. After the struggle was over, and the troops returned to Cusco (the Empire’s Capital City), the consumption of Maca was forbidden due to its magical and sacred attributes.

Peruvian Quinoa

Despite the fact that there are not many archeological records (apart from a few discoveries in some regions of Peru) it is estimated that the Quinoa is 5000 years old and that it was used at the time as a part of the Incas’ everyday diet. The region that covers the Titicaca Lake is considered to be the area where this crop was originated and where there is currently the biggest existing biodiversity.

Peru possesses one of the biggest genetic reserves of Quinoa (among other cereals) both, wild and cultivated. This places the country as one of the most important Quinoa exporters in the world.

Among the main properties of this cereal it stands out that it is rich in Omega 3 and 6, it is a good source of calcium, iron and essential fatty acids as well as fibers. Some other very important health benefits of Quinoa are that it strengthen the muscles, it prevents cardiovascular diseases and reduces cholesterol, osteoporosis and hypertension.

The United Nations General Assembly declared the year 2013 the International Year of the Quinoa as a part of its recognition to the Andean ancient agricultural practices. In addition they recognized Quinoa as a food for the present and future generations, which can be grown through farming practices that are in harmony with nature.

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