This study aimed to explore significant differences in chemical composition among maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) types with different colors in Yunnan province, China. 1H-NMR spectroscopy, in combination with principal component analysis and partial least squares discriminant analysis, was used to investigate the compounds responsible for compositional differences. Different maca color types in Yunnan were clearly distinguished by 11 differential metabolites. Furthermore, network pharmacology results showed that 30 active components were related to Alzheimer’s disease. Nine intersecting compounds among the 11 differential metabolites and 30 active components, namely, lysine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, β-hydroxybutyrate, tryptophan, pyroglutamate, proline, glutamine, and fructose, were used as bioactive markers to identify different maca color types. The results showed the bioactive markers among different maca color types holistically, providing a scientific basis for assessing the quality of commercial products derived from different maca color types.

Jingwei Lv, Chunnan Li, Nanxi Zhang, Kaiyue Z., Xiaochen Gao, Na Li, Lingwen M., Yinping Y., Hui Zhang and Jiaming Sun