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Sacha Inchi Inca Peanuts: Miracle Superfood Or Just Another Fad?

Is it my imagination or is a new superfood discovered each week? Just when you think that they’ve uncovered all there is to uncover in the world of health and nutrition (see my articles on chia seeds and Garcinia Cambogia, for example), a new natural product has been thrust into the spotlight: Sacha Inchi, also known as Inca Peanuts.

Sacha What?

By Michael Hermann (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Michael Hermann (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sacha Inchi, or Plukenetia Volubilis to give them their scientific name, have formed an essential part of the diet for those living in the Amazonian rainforest for over 3,000 years.  Harvested primarily in the Peruvian Andes, these nuts (which are actually seeds) are a rich source of omega 3s, omega 6s and proteins. Furthermore they’re rich in Vitamin A and alpha-tocopherol vitamin E and, according to the Underground Health Reporter, are 96% digestible and 100% irritation-free.

Health benefits of Sacha Inchi

These little seeds are a natural source of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, and contain three times as much omega 3s and twice as much fiber as walnuts, in comparison. In fact, Sacha Inchi is said to be the highest concentration of essential fatty acids in the world, at nearly 50% omega 3 by volume. Some of the nutritional and health benefits of the Sacha Inchi can be listed as follows:

  • Essential fatty acids (EFAs) protect the central nervous system[1], according to research published by the Archives of Neurology
  • Increased levels of omega 3 EFAs also reduce age-related macular degeneration and improve vision, according to the Journal of Ophthalmology[2]
  • Sacha Inchi can improve circulation and blood pressure
  • Sacha Inchi can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and improve good cholesterol (HDL), according to a study undertaken by the Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Publica in 2011[3]
  • Omega 3 controls healthy blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of Type II Diabetes
  • EFAs are a great anti-inflammatory

Other benefits of Sacha Inchi

  • Can be used as a weight loss aid; a study in 2002 by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry[4] found the nuts high in tryptophan, an amino acid that increases the production of happy hormone serotonin which can suppress appetite
  • Increased production of serotonin also improves mood and lifts depression
  • Natural, non-GMO harvest
  • 100% Vegan
  • Nutty, tasty kernels which can also be made into an oil
  • Natural oil can form irritant-free soaps and creams
  • No fishy aftertaste that some EFAs can suffer from

How to prepare Sacha Inchi

The nuts have to be roasted at a low temperature, no more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit, to ensure that their oils maintain all of the health benefits. Once cooked, much like raw peanuts, the kernels can be popped out of their star-shaped shell. So pretty!!  In terms of recipes, I love this acorn squash and sacha inchi soup from vegan blog Choosing Raw contributor Genna, it has such a unique flavor.

For those with a sweet tooth, I found this recipe for a sacha inchi ‘nutella’, I can’t wait to try it out for a healthier alternative!

Sacha Inchi oil is a cold-pressed oil that can be used in many recipes too, such as this sacha inchi pesto, and the oil is available from many health food stores.

Got a health story or recipe to share related to sacha inchi? Please post it below!  I may follow this article up with other sacha inchi news and reviews, so please stay tuned! Thanks and all the best, Michelle.


[1] http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/omega-3-for-memory#axzz2hjFeMPeu

[2] http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/fatty_acid_1.htm

[3] Garmendia F, Pando R, Ronceros G. “Effect of sacha inchi oil (plukenetia volúbilis l) on the lipid profile of patients with hyperlipoproteinemia.” Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica. 2011 Dec;28(4):628-32.

[4] Sathe SK, Hamaker BR, Sze-Tao KW, Venkatachalam M. “Isolation, purification, and biochemical characterization of a novel water soluble protein from Inca peanut (Plukenetia volubilis L.).” J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4906-8

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