Have you heard of Sacha Inchi nuts? Also called Inca peanuts, these nuts are making a big splash in the world of superfoods.
The Sacha Inchi is a plant that grows in the highlands of Peru. It produces a seed that tastes like a nut when roasted. Like many healthy nuts, it’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as omega-6s and omega-9s. It also contains vitamin A and E. Can you say healthy snack?
A Little More About Sacha Inchi
Though the nuts and oil may be new to many of us here in North America, Sacha Inchi has been cultivated in the Amazon rainforest and along the east slope of the lower Andes for 3,000 years. Archaelogists found evidence of them in carvings on Incan tomb vessels. Plants are said to have a long production time, with some producing year after year for decades. Crops are harvested throughout the year, though costs are lower than those of other oil-producing plants.
The cold-pressed oil is said to contain about 45 percent omega-3 fatty acid, 36 percent omega 6, and 9 percent omega 9, with 27 percent protein. Some experts are calling it the tasty alternative to fish oil supplements.
The oil is used for cooking. It’s said to have a crisp, nutty flavor that’s perfect for salads, meat, fish, poultry, and sprinkled over vegetable dishes. You can use it like olive oil, though it’s said to be lighter, better tasting, and easier for your body to absorb.
Sacha Inchi pulp is a by-product used for soap, flour, bread, and in cosmetics and medicinal creams.
If you know omega-3s, you can guess at the health benefits of these tasty nuts and oil. Foodies are especially excited about them because the nutrients are apparently easier to digest than those from other sources, so your body can easily take advantage of the healthy properties. Fans say that the oil does not cause gas or irritation, yet it contains more protein than olive oil, and far more omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of linolenic acid) than olive, soy, sunflower, or flax oils.
Because of the omega-3 content, Sacha Inchi nuts and oil are likely to positively benefit cardiovascular health. Specifically, they may lower cholesterol levels, boost brain function, ease joint stiffness, help maintain healthy glucose levels, support healthy skin and hair, relieve inflammation througout the body, and support the eyes and optimal vision. Scientific studies specifically on Sacha Inchi are minimal at this point, but considering its composition, these are the likely advantages to be gained by incorporating more of this superfood into the diet.
Vegans and raw foodists are especially excited about this food as it provides a plant-based way to get a good supply of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, the oil is extracted by simple cold pressing, so no refining process is necessary. Because of the antioxidants vitamin E and A, it may also help battle the free radical damage that can lead to premature aging. The nuts are high in protein and amino acids—another plus for vegans. They contain nothing toxic or damaging to good health, so you can eat as many as you like!
If you’d like to try Sacha Inchi, try our high quality oil, cold pressed, vegan, and straight from the source in Peru. Or, if you’re looking for the nuts, check your local whole foods store.
Have you tried Sacha Inchi? How do you use it? Please share your tips.
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Photo courtesy imontag2002 via Flickr.com.
“Sacha Inchi Nuts & Oil,” Amazon Hub, http://www.amazonhub.com/Sacha/sacha-inchi-nuts-and-oil-vitamins-alternative-skin.html.
“Sacha Inchi Oil,” OnlyFoods.net, http://www.onlyfoods.net/sacha-inchi-oil.html#sacha-inchi-oil-history.