Sacha Inchi – Plunkentia volubilis linneo
History and Traditional Uses of Sacha Inchi
The Sacha Inchi plant has been known by the natives of Peru and other indigenous people of the Amazon basin for several thousand years. In fact, historians believe the plant was used by pre-Incas and the Incas over 3000 years ago, which is evident from the interpretation of the plant on vessels in Incan tombs. Chancas Indians and other tribal groups of the region extract oil from the seeds which is used for the preparation of various meals. Roasted seeds and cooked leaves are also an important component of their diets.
Sacha means “looks like” and Inchi means “nut.”
What is Sacha Inchi?
Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis linneo) is a perennial vine that is indigenous to the Peruvian Amazon Forest. Growing up to 2 meters, it produces small, green, star-shaped pods. Plants are said to have a long production time, with some producing year after year for decades. There have been plants found that have been producing for 75 years. The production time is also increased due to harvests throughout the year.
The pods are inedible fruit. Generally the pods are left to dry on the vine before being harvested. The seeds are then harvested from the pods after the fruit has dried. The raw seeds must be lightly roasted with low heat before being consumed. While also known as Inca Peanuts, Mountain Nuts or Inca Nuts, they are actually seeds and not nuts.
Cold-pressed from these seeds is an extremely rich, high quality and nutritious oil. The pulp is a by-product used commonly for soap, bread, flour, feed for fish and cattle and in the cosmetics industry.
How is the oil made?
The Sacha Inchi seed has a high oil content – more than 50%. The oil is extracted by simple cold pressing and does not require refining. The introduction of high heat to the process of making the oils can degrade the flavor, nutritional value, and color.
Why should I use Sacha Inchi?
Valued as a superfood, Sacha Inchi contains a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it an excellent source for Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and Omega 6 (linoleic acid). It has a naturally higher concentration of essential fatty acids (approximately 90%), with 48% being Omega-3, 33% Omega-6 and 9% non-essential Omega-9. Sacha Inchi is one of the highest plant sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids known. Sacha Inchi is the perfect supplement for people that do not eat fish or enough Omega-rich vegetables.
Sacha Inchi is also rich in protein, fiber, antioxidant Vitamins A (Beta Carotene) and Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol).
Sacha Inchi is highly digestible (96%). It contains no additives, preservatives or cholesterol.
What does it look and taste like?
Sacha Inchi oil has a distinctive, delicious flavor, and aroma. With no additives or preservatives, our oil boasts a vibrant yellow color with a mild flavor with a nutty finish. The seeds have a crisp nutty flavor.
How do I use it?
The oil can be used for spreading over salads, or lightly seasoning vegetables. It can also be used to make delicious marinades. It is similar to olive oil, but with a lighter taste. The oil is not suitable for cooking as heat destroys the omega 3.
The seeds can be eaten as a snack, or add them to your favorite recipes.
Why are Omegas important to me?
Sacha Inchi contains two very important essential fatty acids (also known as polyunsaturated fats): alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid and linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid. The human body is incapable of producing these fatty acids. They must be consumed from our diet. Both types offer health benefits.
Studies link omega-3s to a wide range of health improvements including maintaining a healthy heart and circulatory system, retaining healthy joints and lowering triglyceride levels. Studies are still underway to show the effectiveness of Omega-3s on maintaining healthy mental function.
Omega-6 fatty acids have been linked to anti-inflammatory properties.
Medical research suggests that a higher intake of omega−6 fatty acids in comparison to the intake of omega-3 fatty acids may increase the likelihood of a number of diseases. While there is no set optimal ration, scientific agreement shows that individuals should consume more omega-3 fatty acids, and less omega-6 fatty acids.