Sacha Inchi: The Secret Omega-3 Superfood from the Amazon Rainforest makes his way into the US Market.
What is Sacha Inchi?
Sacha Inchi, indigenous to the Andean mountain regions, is a superfood that has been consumed by the peoples of the South American Amazon for over 3,000 years. The Sacha Inchi plant produces a star shaped fruit pod which contains oil rich seeds particularly well known for their high content of protein fiber and Omega-3. These seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack or cold pressed to extract the natural oils. Quite simply, Sacha Inchi could be compared to a peanut as it has a similar taste and crunch, however, Sacha Inchi is full of life enriching nutrients and does not have the peanut’s allergenic properties. So why doesn’t every bar and airplane in the US offer Sacha Inchi to its patrons? Most business decisions come down to a cost benefit analysis. Peanuts while far less nutritious, are a much cheaper snack. Nonetheless, Sacha Inchi has been growing in popularity among health enthusiasts across the United States since 2007 as a result of its health improving qualities.
How Can Sacha Inchi improve my Health?
Sacha Inchi has been growing in popularity due to its high concentration in Omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, Omega Fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats must be consumed through dietary sources because the body can’t produce them itself, and the fats are important for many functions of the body. Not only is the consumption important but the correct ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is essential. Consuming too much Omega 6 can lead to chronic inflammation which leads to heart disease, obesity, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. The recommended ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 1:1, however, the typical Western diet is high in vegetable oils leading to a diet of with an average ratio of 10:1 or even 20:1. If you don’t think you are consuming too much Omega-6, ask yourself, have you eaten salad dressing, mayonnaise, peanuts, popcorn, potato chips, fast food (French fries, chicken nuggets, tuna subway, hash browns) cookies, candies, cakes, pastries, pork products, chicken, cheese, eggs, butter, or beef recently? If your diet is high in these foods and you are eating them regularly you could be at risk for chronic inflammation. Sacha Inchi could help you reduce inflammation because Sacha Inchi has the ideal omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 1:1.4.
Heart and Cardiovascular System
According to the American Heart Association, consuming an appropriate amount of Omega-3 oils can decrease inflammation, improve circulation, and as a result reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. In 2013, the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru conducted a double randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study on acceptability, safety, and efficacy of oral administration of Sacha Inchi oil in adult human subjects. The study found that both LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure was reduced and HDL-cholesterol was increased with Sacha Inchi consumption. The study also found the consumption of Sacha Inchi oil to be safe as Hepatic and kidney markers were not affected during the 4 month testing period.
A 2014 study analyzed the ability of the ALA Omega-3 in Sacha Inchi Oil and Chia Seeds to be converted to DHA Omega-3. The study found that the status of DHA Omega-3 in the liver and brain can be improved by increasing ALA supplementation. DHA is an important nutrient necessary for cognitive functioning and has shown the potential to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease.
In 2010, Dr. Oz recommended sacha Inchi as a great weight loss snack, for its high levels of Omega-3, Vitamin, tryptophan, Vitamin E, and dietary fiber. “One ounce of Sacha Inchi seeds contains 5 grams of fiber.” Not only are they great for digestion, but the seeds contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid essential for serotonin production. Serotonin is a nervous system chemical involved in regulating appetite.
The Anti-inflammatory qualities may also positively benefit the joints by easing joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for healthy hair and skin. A study on Omega-3 has shown that it protects the skin from short term and long term exposure to UV Radiation and helps the skin heal damage after it occurs.
The Vitamin A, E, and Omegas can improve vision and maintain eye health. Similar to the brain, the eyes rely on fats, and are easily affected by inflammation.
Serotonin is a feel-good hormone and a neurotransmitter that also helps manage stress and keep us calm and happy.