Sacha Inchi, nut-like seeds from South America are touted to be a great source of good fats and protein

What is Sacha Inchi?

This seed, eaten-like-a-nut, is also known as the Inca peanut is being touted as the next big superfood. According to a 2012 study by the Ohio State University in the US and Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Peru, Sacha Inchi oil has a fatty acid composition similar in omega-3 content to flaxseeds, but double flax in omega-6. If this holds true, then this South American seed has the highest levels of plant-based good fats, an even better source than the nutrient-rich salmon. It’s a little bigger than a peanut and a great way for vegans and vegetarians to load up on essential fats. This legume has a star-shaped fruit containing oval seeds, which have high levels of protein.

Apart from being heart healthy, some other studies indicate that Sacha Inchi may be effective as a weight loss food due to its unusually high content of tryptophan (an amino acid essential to the production of serotonin that regulates appetite), so that means, fewer food cravings! However, these are mostly all Peruvian studies, and need validation from internationally-recognised food and nutrition agencies.

How should I eat them?

It’s a seed, but can be eaten as is, just like nuts. They are available in salted and flavoured form or toss them into salads. In the West, recently, there have been protein powders made of this seed due to its nutrition profile, while oils of these seeds are also available.

What do the experts think?

Mumbai-based nutritionist Naini Setalvad has heard about Sacha Inchi, “but there is not enough research in our hands for me to comment on the credentials of this seed-like-nut. But honestly, why would you want to pay big bucks to eat this imported food, when right here in India you have flaxseeds, which have been indigenous to the country for over 5,000 years. And, there are other nuts like walnuts too that deliver on the omega-3 promise. It’s best to look at locally-available produce for your nutritional needs.”

Red flags: Too much of anything is not good. And Omega-3 is no different. “If Sacha Inchi does have the nutritional value that has been claimed off late, then having too much of it will lead to acidity. Too much omega-3 upsets the pH balance and could lead to indigestion and bloating,” Setalvad concludes.

Discover More Superfoods
Rich in nutritional value, superfoods are the easiest way to boost the health quotient of your daily meals. To discover more superfood ingredients, check out the rest of our superfood series:
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Ashwagandha: Can’t get sleep? Check out the sleep-inducing and other health-promoting properties of the Ayurveda-approved Ashwagandha.

Basil or Tulsi: Apart from simply adding flavor to meals, basil brings with it several medicinal properties. Check out the number of health conditions for which basil can come to your rescue.

Black Carrots: You’ve seen the red ones and you’ve seen the orange ones, but ever witnessed black carrots? Check out how they look and their many health benefits.

Brahmi: Are you afraid of the increasing rates of Alzheimer’s disease? Include this superfood in your diet to boost your brain health. Read about the other health benefits of Brahmi.

Camu Camu: One of the richest sources of Vitamin C, this superfood comes all the way from the Amazon rainforest! Read about its health benefits.

Chia Seeds: This Mexican native is now being used in many Indian kitchens. Check out the various health benefits of chia seeds.

Chilli: Do you love to eat spicy food? Well, good news! Check out how those spicy chilies boost your health.

Dandelion: Not only do they brighten up your garden, but dandelions also boost your health. Confused about how you can include this flower in your diet? We have answers for you right here.

Hog Plum: Looking for a remedy to cure ulcers? Tired of getting diarrhea every time you eat out? Hog plum can come to your rescue! Check out the amazing health benefits of this not so popular superfood.

Jamun: Apart from tinting your tongue purple, jamun has several medicinal properties. Here’s why you must include jamun in your diet.

Kale: Coming across a lot of kale in salads, pizza toppings, and even chips? Check out why kale has suddenly topped the charts for being a healthy option.

Karela: Reading this will prevent you from screwing up your face every time someone mentions karela.  

Kokum: Along with being a refreshing summer drink, kokum also helps you shed extra kilos. Find out more about the sour and fruity kokum.

Makhana or Lotus Seeds: It is rapidly becoming the choice of snack for weight watchers. Check out the nutrient profile of this incredible superfood.

Moringa or Drumstick: Looking to boost your iron and calcium levels? Don’t restrict yourself to just meat and milk. Know more about moringa and how this superfood can be made a part of your diet.

Mushrooms: These fungi are loaded with nutrients. Click here to know why you should be consuming them more often.

Muskmelon: The juicy and aromatic muskmelon has several health-boosting properties. Find out more about this nutritious fruit.

Ragi: This grain has made its way into the plates of many. From ragi dosa and idli to ragi porridge, it is being promoted in the diets of old and young. Find out why health experts are recommending this superfood.

Sabja: Slurped a tall glass of falooda? If it had sabja seeds, you have no reason to feel guilty. Click here to know why!

Sweet Potato: A rich source of Vitamin A and fiber, sweet potato is a great alternative to the white potato. Take a look at all the reasons why you need to include it in your diet.

Tofu: Often known as the vegan cousin of paneer, tofu is derived from soybean and comes loaded with protein and minerals. Read more about the health benefits of tofu.

Turmeric: Think twice before you say no to “haldi wala doodh”. Find out why your grandma trusts turmeric for every infection.

Zucchini: Did you know that you can use your favorite zucchini not only in pasta and pizza but also in a cake? Wondering how it’s possible? Click here to know more.

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