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Sacha Inchi

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Updated September 26, 2012

Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis) is a plant native to Peru. The term "sacha inchi" typically refers to edible seeds produced by the sacha inchi plant. Also known as sacha peanut, mountain peanut, or Inca peanut, these seeds have a nut-like flavor when roasted. Often marketed as a "superfood," sacha inchi is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

What Is Sacha Inchi Oil?

Although sacha inchi is often consumed in whole form, oil extracted from the seeds is also available as a dietary supplement. Sacha inchi oil is often touted as a rich source of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.

Why Do People Use Sacha Inchi?

Sacha inchi is said to help promote weight loss. Some proponents also suggest that consuming sacha inchi can help reduce excess abdominal fat.

In addition, sacha inchi is purported to fight depression, reduce cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease, and aid in diabetes management.

Benefits of Sacha Inchi

Despite its long history of use in traditional medicine, sacha inchi has been the focus of very few scientific studies. Here's a look at the available research on the potential health benefits of sacha inch:

1) Sacha Inchi for High Cholesterol

Preliminary research indicates that sacha inchi may be of some benefit to people with elevated cholesterol levels. For a pilot study published in the Peruvian journal Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Pública in 2011, researchers assigned 24 patients with high cholesterol to four months of treatment with varying doses of sacha inchi oil. Although results revealed that sacha inchi oil appeared to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, the study's authors note that more research needs to be conducted in order to evaluate the efficacy and safety of sacha inch.

2) Sacha Inchi for Weight Loss

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002 found that sacha inchi is unusually high in tryptophan, an amino acid essential to the production of serotonin (a nervous-system chemical involved in regulating appetite). In theory, sacha inchi may help promote weight loss by increasing serotonin production and, as a result, keeping appetite in check and reducing food intake. However, there is currently a lack of research on sacha inchi and its effectiveness as a weight loss aid.

Where To Find Sacha Inchi

Widely available for purchase online, sacha inchi can be found in many natural-foods stores.

Is Sacha Inchi Safe?

While sacha inchi is generally considered safe when consumed as a food, little is known about the long-term effects of consuming sacha inchi oil in supplement form.

Should You Use Sacha Inchi for Health Purposes?

Although it's too soon to recommend sacha inchi for the treatment of any health condition, it's possible that consuming sacha inchi oil as part of a balanced diet may help enhance overall health.

While sacha inchi may help increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, other foods (such as flaxseed and oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring) can also help you get your fill of omega-3s and preserve your health.

Sources

Fanali C, Dugo L, Cacciola F, Beccaria M, Grasso S, Dachà M, Dugo P, Mondello L. "Chemical characterization of Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) oil." J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Dec 28;59(24):13043-9.

Garmendia F, Pando R, Ronceros G. "Effect of sacha inchi oil (plukenetia volúbilis l) on the lipid profile of patients with hyperlipoproteinemia." Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica. 2011 Dec;28(4):628-32.

Gorriti A, Arroyo J, Quispe F, Cisneros B, Condorhuamán M, Almora Y, Chumpitaz V. "Oral toxicity at 60-days of sacha inchi oil (Plukenetia volubilis L.) and linseed (Linum usitatissimum L.), and determination of lethal dose 50 in rodents." Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica. 2010 Sep;27(3):352-60.

Sathe SK, Hamaker BR, Sze-Tao KW, Venkatachalam M. "Isolation, purification, and biochemical characterization of a novel water soluble protein from Inca peanut (Plukenetia volubilis L.)." J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4906-8.

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