Sacha inchi Sacha Inchi Oilhas been used hundreds of years for its appealing flavor and medicinal benefits. This Peruvian shrub works to lower cholesterol, ease muscular pain, and encourage weight loss.
Sacha inchi was domesticated by humans before records began, first cultivated as a medicinal remedy in the Amazon region of South America. The earliest evidence of its use appears on pottery from 3,000 years BCE belonging to the Chimu and Mochica societies, which settled on the present-day Peruvian coastline, implying that these peoples brought the plant from the Amazon basin.
It is believed to have acquired a medicinal and ceremonial importance before the rise of the Inca Empire, since the seeds are depicted in pottery found in Chachapoyas burial sites (circa 800 CE). It is only recently that sacha inchi has been gaining recognition outside of South America, after its remarkable nutritional qualities first became more widely known.
Sacha inchi contains large amounts of protein and oil, and is also one of the most omega-3 rich vegetable available. Its oil content has a ratio of 5:3:1 omega-3 to omega-6 to omega-9 fatty acids, which is the recommended proportion for a balanced diet. Since omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids cannot be produced by the human body, it is important to consume them from other sources in order to avoid a deficiency. This high fatty acid content gives sacha inchi antioxidant capabilities. It is also a good source of vitamins A and E (tocopherol), iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids, as well as phenols and phytosterols.
Sacha inchi’s medicinal benefits are linked to its richness in omega-3 fatty acids, namely alpha-linolenic acid. This form of linolenic acid tends to be better absorbed by the body and is more antioxidant than other forms. Because it is an unsaturated fat, it helps reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol levels while increase HDL “good” cholesterol. In addition, sachi inchi’s antioxidant action is attributed to alpha-linolenic acid, although it is likely that its other nutrients – primarily vitamins A and E – also play a role.
New research on sacha inchi’s compounds has increased significantly in this decade and is set to continue strongly. Recent studies reveal several promising medicinal uses for the herb:
- Balancing cholesterol levels
- Reducing blood pressure
- Preventing heart disease
In addition, natives of the Amazon have used sacha inchi to treat rheumatic pain, but this use has not been verified and is not as common as its cardioprotective applications.
While most parts of the sacha inchi plant are not consumed raw, oil can be extracted from its seeds. This is sometimes used as a healthy alternative to typical salad dressings. Otherwise, the oil is more commonly used in cooked preparations. In addition, toasted sacha inchi nuts have a flavor similar to that of common nuts, making for a healthy snack. Its taste can be acquired and mixes well with different types of dishes. Supplements derived from sacha inchi oil are also available to promote heart health. In addition, the oil is safe to incorporate into the diet over the long term. No sacha inchi toxicity has been observed, even in longer studies lasting eight weeks.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. And these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.