Grown largely in the South American Amazon, and more recently in Asia, the star shaped fruit “Sacha Inchi” yields 4 to 7 seeds each. It provides a premium source of healthy fats, is high in protein, and is a nutrient dense superfood. It has been considered the most nutritious fruit in the world.
The fruit is harvested and the seeds removed. The seeds are lightly roasted at about 122 degrees F. The seeds have been traditionally eaten more like nuts than seeds and resemble peanuts in taste, hence the common name “Mountain Peanuts”. They have also been called “Inca nuts” due to their origins as a food in the Incas of Peru.
You will be hard pressed to find raw Inca nuts, since they are unpalatable and bitter due to the tannin content in their raw state. With modern processing, the raw seeds are cold pressed for their oils. Cold pressing protects the Omega 3’s. The seeds are also used to make protein powders.
Sacha Inchi is high in polyunsaturated fats with high Omega 3’s. ALA is the dominant Omega 3 fatty acid. This makes it good for brain and neurological support, reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease, neurological, and neurodegenerative disorders. It also helps balance the immune system and modulate the inflammatory response.
In a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study on acceptability, safety and efficacy of oral administration of sacha inchi oil (Plukenetia volubilis L.) “Serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels and arterial blood pressure were lowered with both oils (P<0.05). Higher HDL-cholesterol was observed with sacha inchi oil at month-4.” (PubMed.gov)
Sacha Inchi is rich in phytosterols. This may further help decrease the risk for heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol.
Sacha Inshi contains all the essential amino acids. Essential means your body can not make them and therefore they must be obtained by the diet. There are many complete protein sources for carnivores including meats, dairy products, fish, eggs, etc. But for the vegan, it is important to have known complete protein sources, such as Sacha Inchi, in your diet.
Sacha Inchi is also rich in phytochemicals such as phenolic compounds, phytosterols, carotenoids, and carotenes. Phytochemicals are known for their anti-oxidant properties but do much more including regulating hormones, strengthening the immune system, causing apoptosis in cancer cells, supporting neurological function, increasing intercellular communication, support for detoxification… the list is grand.
If all this wasn’t enough, Sacha Inchi will also provide you with ample Vitamin E and tocopherols, vitamin C, calcium, iron, tryptophan, and dietary fiber.
Sacha Inchi Nutrition Facts (per oz.)
Total Fat 13g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Total Carbohydrate 5g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Uses of Sacha Inchi
Traditionally, the seeds have been eaten and oil pressed from the seeds has been used topically for beauty. Native Amazonian women would ground the raw seeds on the plants fuzzy heart shaped leaves to apply externally as a skin cream.
Modern farming and processing techniques has increased production significantly making oil available on a much larger scale for ingestion, and proteins manufactured for supplements.
For the Botanist
A plant from the Plukenetia genus of the family Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family. The species commercialized is:
Plukenetia volubilis – the most used species for seed and oil consumption. Plukenetia volubilis is a seed producing perennial climbing vine indigenous to high-altitude jungles of the Andean tropics and now domesticated in the Peruvian Amazon where it is cultivated for export.
Those with nut or peanut allergies may have sensitivities to Sacha Inchi seeds and products made from them.
What Are We Doing With Sacha Inchi?
We love Sacha Inchi. The “nuts” are actually quite large… having a bit more mass than an almond. They don’t quite taste like peanuts, but rather, eat more like roasted almonds… a bit “squeaky” when you bite into them. The flavor and texture are quite pleasant. You will probably have a hard time putting them down.
We use Sacha Inchi protein as a primary ingredient in our vegan Protein “Lit Pro“. This is one of the keys to the scrumptious flavor of Lit Pro and something that sets us apart from the pack when it comes to the nutritional benefits. Like the Sacha Inchi nuts, you will crave more. Lit Pro is that delicious.