Spotlight on Sacha Inchi Seed: Protein Super-Star
Sacha Inchi is a super seed indigenous to the Amazon rainforest highlands. It has been consumed for over 3,000 years in Peru and through the Pre-Inca and Inca Empire for its great taste and unmatched nutrition. Meet this protein dense super-star that is the newest member to our line up in our Perfect Plant Protein!
What is Sacha Inchi?
Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis) is a seed that is eaten like a nut.
It is referred to as Sacha Peanut, Inca Peanut, Mountain Peanut, or Star Seed and is native to South America, Southeast Asia, and some of the islands throughout the Caribbean. It grows similar to peanuts and other legumes that vine, in its own star-shaped, geometric pod. It produces seeds all year long for many years. Historians have found drawings of the the vine depicted on Inca tombs that date back 3,000 years. Traditionally, it was prepared by roasting the seeds.
Rooted in Tradition, Partnering with Families
We work with our partners to make sure that both the social and environmental impacts of growing sacha inchi commercially are responsible and sustainably oriented. To do this, we source our sacha inchi from a network of close to 1,000 indigenous farming families in the Amazon, enabling distributed income to many farms and also ensuring to not over-tax a single area environmentally.
Loaded with Omegas and Protein!
It tastes like a nut at first bite, but then the flavor evolves. As you chew, the seed releases its hidden health secrets - its loaded with Omega-3s, 6s, and 9s - leading to a lightly buttery flavor. It is for this reason and the fact that it is a complete protein (containing all 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot make) that Sacha Inchi has been blowing up the scene all over health food stores lately. These little seeds contain the highest naturally occurring plant-based Omega 3s (in the form of alpha-linoleic acid) than any other plant-- some sources even suggest 17x more than in salmon!
Sacha Inchi seeds are packed with protein - 30% protein by weight! This is why snacking on these seeds are a hunger-satisfying treat. Feelings of fullness or satiation are sent to the brain after consuming highly nourishing, protein rich foods, helping to lead to overall control of food cravings. Something also useful for the outdoor trekker, wanting to bring a satisfying, high-density food out on the trail. Its high protein content helps to repair and rebuild muscle tissue post-adventure.
Sacha Inchi has an unusually high amount of the essential amino acid Tryptophan, which is used heavily in the production of serotonin (1). For this reason, it has been used traditionally as a way to fight off depression and to promote positive mental health. (If taking serotonin modulating pharmaceuticals, discuss with your health care provider the best way to incorporate Sacha Inchi into your regular routine.)
Rich in Iron
Blood building and iron rich, these seeds contain more iron than spinach or lentils, alleviating symptoms of anemia. Other uses of Sacha Inchi point to its use in increasing HDL cholesterol levels, reducing joint inflammation (due to a high presence of antioxidants), and even used topically as a hair, face, and skin rejuvenator.
Encourages Elasticity in Skin
When used on the skin, oil from this seed helps to protect against UV damage from the sun, maintaining supple and elastic skin. It has been used to reduce the appearance of fine lines in mature skin, and regulates natural oil production without clogging pores. These qualities ring true when applied to hair health as well. Oil from Sacha Inchi increases the glossiness of hair, soothes scalp inflammation, again regulates natural oil production, and nourishes and moisturizes hair strands.
Rich in Mineral Content
The primary minerals present in Sacha Inchi seeds are potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Here’s a brief look at the benefits of each:
- Potassium: The daily minimum amount necessary to support important functions is 100 milligrams. Potassium reduces stroke risk, lowers blood pressure, prevents muscle loss, protects bone mineral density, and inhibits kidney stone development.
- Magnesium: The human body needs at least 100 milligrams of magnesium intake per day to support its wide-ranging health benefits. Some of those benefits include migraine headache prevention, better heart health, lowered type 2 diabetes risk, premenstrual symptom relief, anxiety management, and enhanced bone health.
- Calcium: Calcium is essential for strong bones. The daily recommended amount for adults is 1,000 to 2,500 milligrams. Calcium deficiency can result in weakened bones and a greater potential for developing bone disorders like osteoporosis. Vegans and paleo-vegans (or, pegans) are especially at risk for weak bones because the most common sources of calcium are found in animal-based food products. Fortunately, Sacha Inchi seeds are an excellent replacement option.
(1) Sathe SK, Hamaker BR, Sze-Tao KW, Venkatachalam M. (2002). Isolation, purification, and biochemical characterization of a novel water soluble protein from Inca peanut (Plukenetiavolubilis L.). J Agric Food Chem. Aug 14;50(17):4906-8.