Sacha Inchi Guide - High Protein Superfood
Sacha Inchi Guide - High Protein Superfood
Most of us list the same ten to twelve foods when asked for vegan and vegetarian foods high in protein and healthy fats. I'm willing to bet sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.), a legume native to tropical Peruvian jungles, rarely if ever makes that list. This legume is a complete protein source rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that also offers powerful health benefits.

For centuries, Peruvians have used sacha inchi, also known as the Inca inchi or mountain peanut as a nutraceutical, food source, and a part of their traditional medicine. [1] Sacha inchi is also found in Suriname, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, parts of Brazil, and some Caribbean islands. [2]

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The woody vine supplying sacha inchi nuts grows best between 200 and 1,500 meters of elevation above sea level and produces a star-shaped fruit containing dark oval seeds which are harvested, dried, and consumed. [3] Sacha inchi is a complete protein source offering high amounts of health-promoting Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

In its raw form, sacha inchi is a high protein legume rich in essential fatty acids. On average, sacha inchi is 50% fat, 30% protein, and 20% carbohydrates by weight. [1] One ounce (28 grams) of sacha inchi offers 13 grams of fat, nearly all of which are polyunsaturated, 5 grams of carbohydrates, all of which are dietary fiber, a whopping 8.5 grams of protein, and zero milligrams of cholesterol.

Those looking for a portable and low carbohydrate snack rich in protein and healthy fatty acids should incorporate sacha inchi in to their diet.

Sacha inchi has a growing body of scientific evidence supporting its ability to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, fight inflammation, and improve skin health. This article examines the most common uses for, benefits of, and frequently asked questions related to sacha inchi.

Sacha Inchi Uses

Sacha InchiSacha inchi is most commonly ingested orally in its raw legume, dried powder, oil extract, or protein powder form. One ounce of raw sacha inchi is great snack for increasing your protein and healthy fat intake. You can mix a few tablespoons of dried sacha inchi powder in to your smoothie, yogurt, shake, or oatmeal.

Many individuals consume two to four grams, or five to ten milliliters of sacha inchi oil extract to improve their manage their cholesterol and decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease. While not the cheapest vegan protein source, sacha inchi protein powder offers an alternative source of complete protein for those looking to add variety to their diet.

While the most common use of sacha inchi is oral ingestion, you can also use sacha inchi oil to improve skin softness, expedite the healing of wounds, treat insect bites, and eliminate skin infections. [4] Both store-bought and homemade cosmetic products may incorporate sacha inchi oil or dried ground sacha inchi powder to improve skin quality.

Sacha Inchi Benefits

From the nutritional standpoint, sacha inchi is an all-natural complete protein source suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. It has the second highest total amino acid count compared to soybean, peanut, cottonseed, and sunflower protein. Sacha inchi is particular high in aspartate and glutamine amino acids.

Nearly 93% of the fat content in sachi inchi is polyunsaturated fat, specifically the Omega-3 fatty acid ?-Linolenic acid (ALA) and the Omega-6 fatty acid Linoleic acid (LA). [5] In addition to its stellar macronutrient profile, research suggests this legume also has profound internal health benefits.

A study of 30 subjects compared the acceptability, side effects, and health effects of daily consumption 10 to 15 milliliters of sacha inchi oil and sunflower oil for four months. While only about one-third of participants consuming sacha inchi oil accepted it during week one, nearly all participants accepted the oil by week six.

The most common side effects of consuming either sacha inchi or sunflower oil were nausea, but this reduced with time and repeated consumption. Both sunflower and sacha inchi oil lowered total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood pressure and had no negative effects on liver or kidney function.

However, only sacha inchi oil significantly increased HDL (good) cholesterol. [6] This findings support sacha inchi's ability to regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure, two critical components used to track risk of cardiovascular disease.

A second study of 24 patients between the ages of 35 and 75 found that just five milliliters, or two grams, of sacha inchi oil consumed daily for four months can significantly decrease total cholesterol and non-esterified fatty acids as well as increase HDL cholesterol. [7] High levels of LDL and non-esterified fatty acids in the blood are strongly correlated to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sacha inchi can fight inflammation by increasing the circulating levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in your blood. 18 healthy adults consumed 10 or 15 milliliters of sacha inchi or sunflower oil while in a fasted state. Researchers then then measured the levels of ALA and DHA in their blood. While both oils decreased LDL cholesterol, only sacha inchi oil significantly increased circulating levels of ALA and DHA in the blood. [8]

A second study on red blood cells confirmed these findings and showed that sacha inchi's high ALA content significantly increases both EPA and DHA levels. [9] DHA most commonly builds up in the brain and liver. For those pregnant or nursing, sacha inchi's ability to increase DHA levels in the blood and subsequently breast milk, means that the legume also offers significant benefits to newborns.

Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common bacteria that negatively affect skin health in humans. If left untreated, this bacterium can cause a contagious skin surface infection, hair follicle infection, inflamed growths, and abscesses.

Researchers found that the application of sacha inchi oil to the skin does not harm keratinocytes, the most common type of cell on the skin's surface, but it is five times more effective than coconut oil at fighting Staphylococcus aureus growth on the skin. [4] Sacha inchi's strong antibacterial properties make the legume a prime candidate for inclusion in skin treatment and moisturizer products.

Nearly every individual without a legume allergy may benefit from consuming sacha inchi in one of its various forms.

Sacha Inchi FAQs

Where can I find Sacha Inchi today?
You can find sacha inchi in raw nut, ground powder, protein powder, oil, and capsule, forms. The raw nut and ground powder forms are minimally processed and offer the nut's natural balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Manufacturers dried, ground, and remove the fat from sacha inchi nuts to create the protein powder form. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find as a bulk protein source, is more expensive than most other vegetarian and vegan protein sources, and offers only 55% protein by weight even after extensive processing and filtering.

The oil and capsule forms are produced by pressing and isolating the naturally occurring healthy fats found within the sacha inchi nut. Unfortunately, Tiger Fitness does not carry any products containing the sacha inchi nut but you can find the forms mentioned above online from supplement wholesalers and retailers as well as at your local health foods store.
Is Sacha Inchi safe to stack with other supplements?
Yes, sacha inchi is extremely safe to stack with other supplements. This nut is an all-natural food packed with protein and healthy fats that also offers a number of health benefits. In animal studies, researchers found that oral consumption of 37 grams of sacha inchi oil per kilogram of bodyweight resulted in no harmful effects. [10]

Those with nut allergies and/or preexisting medical conditions should consult their health care professional before consuming sacha inchi. In otherwise healthy individuals, the various forms of this nut are extremely safe to consume alongside other supplements.
References
1) Wang, Xiaojuan et al. "Transcriptome Analysis of Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia Volubilis L.) Seeds at Two Developmental Stages." BMC Genomics 13 (2012): 716. PMC. 2) Plukenetia volubilis L., Sp. Pl.: 1192 (1753). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, 2017, Accessed Apr. 2017. 3) Wang, Xiaojuan et al. "Transcriptome Analysis of Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia Volubilis L.) Seeds at Two Developmental Stages." BMC Genomics 13 (2012): 716. PMC. Web. Apr. 2017. 4) Gonzalez-Aspajo, G., et al. "Sacha Inchi Oil (Plukenetia Volubilis L.), Effect on Adherence of Staphylococus Aureus to Human Skin Explant and Keratinocytes in Vitro." National Center for Biotechnology Information, J Ethnopharmacol, 2 Aug. 2015, Accessed Apr. 2017. 5) Chirinos, R., et al. "Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia Volubilis): a Seed Source of Polyunsaturate…" National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., Dec. 2013. 6) Gonzales, G. F., and C. Gonzales. "A Randomized, Double-blind Placebo-controlled Study on Acceptability, Safety and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Sacha Inchi Oil (Plukenetia Vol..." National Center for Biotechnology Information, Food Chem Toxicol, Mar. 2014, Accessed Apr. 2017. 7) Garmendia, F., et al. "Effect of Sacha Inchi Oil (plukenetia Volúbilis L) on the Lipid Profile of Patients with Hyperlipoproteinemia." National Center for Biotechnology Information, Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica, Dec. 2011, Accessed Apr. 2017. 8) Gonzales, G. F., et al. "Exposure of Fatty Acids After a Single Oral Administration of Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia Volubilis L.) and Sunflower Oil in Human Adult Subjects." National Center for Biotechnology Information, Toxicol Mech Methods, Jan. 2014, Accessed Apr. 2017. 9) Valenzuela, Rodrigo et al. "Modification of Docosahexaenoic Acid Composition of Milk from Nursing Women Who Received Alpha Linolenic Acid from Chia Oil during Gestation and Nursing." Nutrients 7.8 (2015): 6405–6424. PMC. Web. Apr. 2017. 10) Gorriti, A., et al. "Oral Toxicity at 60-days of Sacha Inchi Oil (Plukenetia Volubilis L.) and Linseed (Linum Usitatissimum L.), and Determination of Lethal Dose 50 In..." National Center for Biotechnology Information, Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica, Sept. 2010, Accessed Apr. 2017.