What is Sacha Inchi?
From its scientific name Plukenetia Volubilis, the Sacha Inchi, also called peanut of the Incas, is a star-shaped nut native to Peru. Rich in omega 3, proteins and vitamin E, this Andean seed is reputed to reduce cholesterol, improve vision and memory and protect the body from oxidants. Eaten as a snack or in flour, this Incan nut also produces an exceptional vegetable oil. This virgin oil (of soft pressure) has a perfect composition for the health and beauty of the skin and hair.
Origin of Sacha Inchi
The Sacha Inchi or peanut of the Incas takes its name from its origin in the Andes in Peru. The star-shaped nut already appeared 3000 years ago, in the Mochica and Chimù cultures. It is then in 1609 that the Inca plant returns to the forefront with Inca Garcilaso de la Vega who names the seed in his chronicles. From there, the Sacha Inchi begins its journey around the world.
In 1753, the Swedish botanist Carl Von Linné lists the plukenetia volubilis as one of the 7300 spices found in Peru. The name of the nut of the Incas remains then perennial in the world of naturalism and botany. However, the seed became popular from 1976, under the impulse of Santiago Erik Antànez de Mayolo Rynning who rediscovered it and exposed it to the world.
How is Sacha Inchi cultivated?
Sacha Inchi grows in the forests of the Andes, in the south of Peru. This perennial plant has been producing a star-shaped fruit (plukenetia volubilis) rich in vegetable oil for more than 3000 years. In order to preserve a production system in harmony with nature, many cooperatives have been created. They allow a fair trade that respects the dignity of the producers and the life of the planet. The fruits that come from these crops are generally organic.
The nutritional properties of Sacha Inchi
The Sacha Inchi gives a seed from which is extracted, by gentle pressure, a virgin and organic oil rich in quality fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. However, even if the oil of the Inca nut is the most known product, Sacha Inchi can also be consumed as seed or flour. It then also brings many nutrients.
The Sacha Inchi, seeds rich in unsaturated fatty acids
The organic oil extracted from the seeds of Sacha Inchi is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. It contains both poly and monounsaturated fatty acids in ideal proportions for health.
The Inca nut, a seed source of omega 3
Sacha Inchi oil contains up to 48% Omega 3. This fatty acid, absent from the composition of olive oil, is very useful for health. Many people are deficient in it. Sacha Inchi oil is therefore a simple way to rebalance nutritional intake from the kitchen. In fact, it is, to date, the largest source of omega 3 on the planet. Sometimes they are used to accompany detox cures.
The Andean peanut, a fruit rich in omega 6
Sacha Inchi oil also contains up to 36% Omega 6. Resulting from a first cold pressing, these fatty acids are not altered and therefore have no adverse effects on health. Moreover, their ratio compared to omega 3 is favorable to good cardiovascular health.
The Sacha Inchi, a star rich in omega 9
Relatively rare in the diet, the omega 9, traditionally attributed to virgin olive oil, are also present in significant quantities in Sacha Inchi oil. These fatty acids represent between 9 and 10% of the total fatty acids in the final product.
Sacha Inchi, a fruit rich in proteins
In addition to its oil, the Sacha Inchi seed also contains a large number of vegetable proteins. These proteins represent more than 30% of its weight.
But, the interest of Sacha Inchi proteins also depends on their composition. Indeed, a rare thing in vegetable products, the Sacha Inchi nut contains the eight amino acids essential to the functioning of the body:
- the valine;
From a strictly nutritional point of view, the fruits of Sacha Inchi are an important source of tryptophan, the precursor amino acid of serotonin, among others.
Sacha Inchi, unsuspected nutritional properties
However, Sacha Inchi is not only an oil and protein. This organic nut is also a source of vitamins, mainly vitamin A and vitamin E.
In addition to its vitamins, Sacha Inchi also contains a complete battery of minerals and trace elements:
Even if the Inca nut is classified as a seed, it has the advantage of being hypoallergenic. No risk thus to develop an allergy crisis as it is sometimes the case with the peanut (of the groundnut).
The benefits of consuming Sacha Inchi
Because of their nutritional composition that high quality, the seeds of Sacha Inchi, whether whole, in oil or flour, provide many benefits to the body.
Benefits on the functioning of the heart and the brain
The Sacha Inchi has a protective action of the cardiac and cerebral functions. Indeed, the small star nut has a notable quantity of omega 3. However, the lipids and particularly the omega 3 fatty acids constitute more than 60% of the brain’s mass. Moreover, these fatty acids have a protective action on the heart by promoting a balanced blood balance.
Benefits on the immune system
Among the many nutrients in Sacha Inchi, vitamin A is in a good position. This vitamin is known to stimulate and optimize the functioning of white blood cells. In this way, the immune system responds more quickly and effectively to external aggressions. Some studies hypothesize that omega 3 also participates in the maintenance of a good immunity.
Benefits on blood circulation
Sacha Inchi, and especially its oil, has a favorable action on blood circulation. The omega 3, omnipresent in this precious liquid, has an anti-aggregating action on platelets. That is to say that these lipids reduce the risk of blood clots formation.
Benefits on lipid balance
Sacha Inchi, and of course its flagship fatty acid, omega 3, have proven their ability to balance the lipid balance of the blood. Precisely, the omega 3 are likely to decrease the total quantity of cholesterol and especially LDL cholesterol. In addition, studies show that this type of fatty acid can also significantly reduce triglyceride levels. According to the opinion of some scientists, omega 9, also present in the star seeds of the Andes, have a similar effect.
Benefits for Diabetes
The nut of the Incas has many fatty acids of quality. Like olive oil or hazelnut oil, Sacha Inchi oil contains omega 9. Less known, these fatty acids have an action on the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Thus, they reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Benefits on cell renewal
The body’s cells are constantly renewing themselves. They need phospholipids to build themselves properly. These phospholipids are notably formed by omega 3 which makes them more flexible and more resistant. The interest of Sacha Inchi in cellular protection also comes from the significant presence of vitamin A and vitamin E, both reputed to be antioxidants. They therefore protect the cells from aggressions.
Benefits on blood pressure
In the Sachi Inca oil, it is still the omega 3 that are responsible for its favorable role on blood pressure. Indeed, some omega 3 modulate the production of aldosterone, a hormone with a crucial role in the balance of blood pressure. In addition, some studies show that omega-3s also promote the production of nitric acid, which also helps to lower blood pressure.
Skin health benefits
Virgin oils, rich in quality lipids, contribute to the beauty of the skin. Sacha Inchi oil is no exception to the rule. In external care or in food, it brings the omega 3 that nourishes the cells. The oil also participates in the protection against free radicals with its vitamins A and E.
Benefits on visual acuity
Present in the cones and rods of the retina, omega 3 protects the eyes from macular degeneration. The lipids are not the only asset of Sacha Inchi in its favorable action on the vision. Indeed, the vitamin A present in its seeds is an essential nutrient for the development of the visual acuity, in particular at the children.
Benefits on weight loss
According to the opinion of some specialists, omega 3 helps with weight loss. Studies highlight the role of these fatty acids in the destocking and utilization of fats present in the body. Specifically, they deactivate the lipogenetic genes and activate the lipolytic genes. In addition, Sacha Inchi oil promotes the production of serotonin which reduces stress and compulsions on sweet food.
Many scientists believe that omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties. These are all the more present when the oil is used cold.
The Sacha Inchi in the food industry
In food, Sacha Inchi is consumed in the form of seeds, oil or flour.
The oil of Sacha Inchi
Sacha Inchi oil has a unique lipidic composition:
- 48% of omega 3
- 36% of omega 6
- 9% omega 9
With a nice golden yellow color, the organic Sacha Inchi oil has a sweet and pleasant taste. Very different from that of other oils, its taste is similar to that of peas or beans. Sometimes a hint of dried hay can be detected in the aftertaste.
How to use Sacha Inchi oil?
Sacha Inchi oil is sensitive to cooking due to its high omega 3 content, and is therefore mainly used cold. Its taste is ideal for seasoning salads and other raw vegetables where it is mixed with olive oil. It can also be used to prepare sauces or to give an original note to a cold soup. This oil can also be mixed with lemon juice for detoxification. To enjoy its benefits, an organic product is essential.
The flour of Sacha Inchi
Like oil, Sacha Inchi flour is an exceptional product. It has a very high protein content (about 60%) and is much more digestible than conventional flours. Sacha Inchi flour does not present any risk of allergy or intolerance as is sometimes the case with wheat or buckwheat flour.
How to use Sacha Inchi flour?
In the kitchen, Sacha Inchi flour is mainly used to make vegetable protein drinks. It is also used in the manufacturing process of certain food products. It is therefore logically found in the manufacture of vegetable protein powders, but also in bakery and pastry products.
Sacha Inchi snacks
Sacha Inchi snacks are made from the raw almonds of the plant. After being shelled, these almonds are delicately roasted to obtain a crunchy texture while preserving the nutritional benefits of the Inca nut.
How to use Sacha Inchi snacks?
The snacks of Sacha Inchi are used like all nuts:
- directly as an aperitif or snack
- in pastries (whole or in pieces)
- instead of almonds or nuts in traditional dishes
- in bakery and pastry
- in protein bars.
Sacha Inchi oil in cosmetics
In cosmetics, the oil of Sacha Inchi is used in care for the skin, but also for the hair.
As a component of shampoos or hair care, Sacha Inchi oil moisturizes and softens the hair fiber. It also nourishes the scalp and protects it from irritation.
As a skin care product, Sacha Inchi oil has the particularity of being suitable for all skin types, from oily skin to dry skin, including reactive or atopic skin. To restructure and protect the skin, the oil of walnut of the Incas has many properties:
It is besides very little comedogenic.