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Sacha Inchi, or Plukenetia Volubilis, is a plant that originates from Peru and has been cultivated there for many centuries. It is considered a superfood because it has a particularly high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids. But sacha inchi is also used in cosmetics as a moisturising and anti-inflammatory active ingredient. In the following guide we have summarised everything you need to know about the plant and what you should look out for before and after buying sacha inchi products. In our large Sacha Inchi test 2021 we also present different products that are obtained from the plant and explain their advantages and disadvantages.




The most important facts

  • Sacha Inchi is a plant that is used to produce both food and cosmetics. It is offered in the following forms: Seeds, oil, protein powder, and hair and skin care.
  • Sacha Inchi has a very high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, which are said to prevent various diseases and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • The Sacha Inchi plant has been cultivated in Peru for many centuries, but is now one of the most endangered plants in the region. Before buying, you should therefore make sure that the plant is cultivated sustainably.

The Best Sacha Inchi: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for Sacha Inchi products

If you are interested in Sacha Inchi, there are several criteria you should look for to find the right Sacha Inchi product for you. We have summarised them for you here:

By making the right choice for you, you can save money because you don't have to try out a lot and you also make sure that you don't give your body anything it doesn't need. Therefore, always make sure that the products are of high quality and that they come from the right sources.

Dosage form

Sacha Inchi is known to be good for the body - both as food and in cosmetics.

Sacha Inchi has a high vitamin E content, which is said to be an anti-aging vitamin.

Peruvian women have used it for cosmetic purposes since Inca times. For example, against rheumatic complaints. Sacha Inchi has a high vitamin E content, which is said to be an anti-ageing vitamin. This is why the Inca nut is also used as an ingredient in cosmetics. In addition, the oil is said to have a moisturising (6, 11) and anti-inflammatory (6) effect. Sacha Inchi is also said to promote wound healing and support scar care (12). Sacha Inchi can be found in the following cosmetics:

  • Creams for face and body
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Oil for hair or body
  • Eye drops

In the form of food, sacha inchi is most commonly found because it is a plant with a particularly good ratio of the unsaturated fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6(2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 14).

The unsaturated fatty acids prevent cardiovascular problems.

These are very important for the body, especially the heart and blood vessels(3, 7), and can otherwise be ingested in high quantities mostly through fish. Especially for people who avoid fish, sacha inchi can therefore be a very good source of unsaturated fatty acids(3). Sacha Inchi can be bought as food in the following forms:

  • As a whole nut (roasted)
  • Sacha Inchi oil
  • Oil capsules
  • Sacha Inchi powder/flour

The individual advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of presentation are discussed in more detail in the section "What types of sacha inchi products are available?

Origin

The Sacha Inchi plant originally comes from Peru, but is now also grown in many other countries with tropical climates. Today, Sacha Inchi is also available from other South American countries, South-East Asia, especially Thailand and the Antilles Islands.

When buying a sacha inchi product, you should make sure that it comes from sustainable production.

As Sacha Inchi is in high demand, the plant has become rare in some areas and has been classified as an endangered plant by the Peruvian government. However, there are organisations that pay attention to sustainable cultivation and fair payment for the farmers. Many farmers who grow Sacha Inchi today used to grow the Coca plant for years, which was used to produce cocaine. However, due in part to a fungus that destroyed many crops, these farmers have now switched to the legal and sustainable Sacha Inchi plant. So by buying the products, you can also support these farmers.

Allergies

The Sacha Inchi seed is also known as the Inca nut, or often Inca peanut. It is a nut-like seed(4).

If you have an allergy to nuts, be careful with Sacha Inchi.

Sacha Inchi has not yet been studied for possible allergens and there are no prominent cases or studies of allergic reactions to the plant. If you have a food allergy, especially to nuts, you should therefore be very careful here, as the sacha inchi seed is simply not well enough researched. On the other hand, it has been reported that Sacha Inchi can even have a positive effect on the prevention of allergies due to its high omega-3 and 6 fatty acids (13).

Guide: Frequently asked questions about Sacha Inchi products answered in detail

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of Sacha Inchi and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information you need to know in the following sections.

What is Sacha Inchi and how does it work?

Sacha Inchi (pronounced "Satscha Inschi"), or Plukenetia Volubilis, also called Inca nut, is a plant that originated in Peru and has been cultivated there for centuries.

Sacha Inchi-1

Sacha Inchi comes from Peru and was already cultivated by the Incas. They also processed the seeds for cosmetic purposes. (Image source: Jeremiah Berman / Unsplash)

The plant belongs to the spurge family and can grow to a height of 2 - 4 metres. The shape of its ripe fruits is reminiscent of star anise, with a seed in each chamber of the fruit. The seeds are also called nuts and can be processed into oil and flour. A few years ago, the seed gained fame and is considered a superfood due to its effect.

Active ingredient Effect
Omega-3, -6 and -9(2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 13) Prevents diseases of the heart and blood vessels(3, 7) and regulates cholesterol levels
Proteins Important for our muscle building and maintenance, part of hormones and enzymes, stabilise tissue of organs and our immune system
Vitamin A Important for eyes, skin, bones and teeth
Fatty acids and vitamins Mild on the skin, moisturising and anti-inflammatory(6, 11)
Vitamin E Considered an "anti-ageing vitamin" and makes the oil more durable

In this overview you can see whether one of the ingredients with its effect is also perfect against your complaints.

When and for whom is it useful to take Sacha Inchi?

Taking Sacha Inchi is particularly useful for people who have to watch their intake of unsaturated fatty acids, for example because they do not eat fish(3).

One sacha inchi seed or one teaspoon of sacha inchi oil per day can completely cover the daily requirement.

In addition, sacha inchi powder, which is also extracted from the seed, is known to contain many proteins. For a balanced diet and especially for athletes, sacha inchi can therefore also be very helpful. Sacha Inchi is also said to help prevent Alzheimer's due to its unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (14).

How is the Sacha Inchi plant grown and processed?

The plant grows at temperatures between 10 and 36 °C and at an altitude of up to 1700 m, but it needs a lot of water. The fruits are green at first, but darken further into a dark brown or blackish-greyish tone over time.
The seeds are consumed roasted as a whole nut, cold-pressed as oil, or as a powder.

The seeds as well as the seed pods and leaves of the Sacha Inchi plant are processed further(1). The seeds are first sun-dried. If they are to be eaten later as a whole nut, they are roasted(5). Otherwise, the oil from the seeds is cold-pressed and the remaining powder is used as Sacha Inchi flour or protein powder. A kind of tea can be made from the leaves(8). Due to the naturally contained bitter substances and toxins, it is not recommended to consume both the fruits and the leaves raw(8). In any case, they should be heated before consumption.

Sacha Inchi-2

Sacha Inchi is particularly popular in the form of cold-pressed oil. It contains particularly high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and is popular in salads.
(Image source: Jessica Lewis / Unsplash)

What types of Sacha Inchi products are there?

Sacha Inchi can be found in a wide variety of product forms, as it can not only be ingested but also applied externally. We have listed the types of products and their advantages and disadvantages here.

Sacha Inchi Seeds

Sacha Inchi seeds are the basis for all Sacha Inchi products. However, due to the naturally contained bitter substances and toxins, the seeds must be roasted before consumption(5).

Advantages
  • Delicious snack
  • daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids covered with one nut
Disadvantages
  • Roasting causes the seed to lose health-promoting substances(5)
  • taste is peculiar

They have a nutty flavour, but this is not for everyone.

Sacha Inchi Oil

Sacha Inchi oil is extracted directly from the seeds of the Sacha Inchi plant. It is cold-pressed and therefore particularly rich in unsaturated fatty acids.

Advantages
  • Just one teaspoon is enough to cover the daily requirement
  • Keeps for up to one year
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for heating
  • Taste is peculiar
  • May cause nausea if overdosed(15)

One teaspoon of this long-lasting oil is enough to cover your daily needs. However, you should be careful not to take too much. Otherwise you may experience unpleasant side effects.

Sacha Inchi Oil Capsules

Sacha Inchi oil capsules contain normal Sacha Inchi oil.

Advantages
  • Can be dosed precisely
  • neutral in taste
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for further processing, for example in salads

The advantage is that it can be dosed precisely with the help of the capsules and is neutral in taste.

Sacha Inchi protein powder/flour

The Sacha Inchi powder is produced by pressing the seeds to get the oil(9). The remaining powder has a particularly high protein content and is therefore especially popular among athletes who want to supplement protein to build muscle.

Sacha Inchi in cosmetics

Sacha Inchi is used in a wide variety of cosmetic applications. As it is very moisturising, it is used for skin and hair care, for example(6, 11).

Sacha Inchi-3

Sacha Inchi is often used in the cosmetics industry because of its anti-inflammatory and moisturising effect.
(Image source: Maddi Bazzocco / Unsplash)

Eye drops with Sacha Inchi active ingredients are also already available. Sacha inchi was used centuries ago to treat rheumatism and is known to be anti-inflammatory. It is also used for scar care(12).

How should Sacha Inchi be dosed and what should I look out for when taking it?

Even though sacha inchi is very healthy, there are some points to bear in mind when taking it:

  • Daily dose: Sacha Inchi seeds already cover our daily requirement of omega-3, -6 and -9 with one seed, or one teaspoon of Sacha Inchi oil.
  • Side effects: If too much oil is consumed, it can have a laxative effect. In addition, sacha inchi can cause nausea, especially during the first week of consumption, but especially if taken in excessive doses(15).
  • Use of the oil: The oil is not suitable for heating. You should therefore not fry anything with it, as the particularly health-promoting substances are lost in the process.
  • Consumption of the seeds: The seeds should not be eaten raw, as they contain many bitter substances and toxins. For this reason, they can usually only be bought roasted(5). Also, the seeds have a nutty taste that not everyone likes.
  • Allergies: Allergy sufferers should take care. Sacha Inchi is still quite unexplored with regard to its allergic effects and possible cross-reactions, for example with peanuts. An allergic reaction to sacha inchi is therefore possible in principle.

If you follow these guidelines, however, sacha inchi can be enjoyed without restriction and is very healthy.

How sustainable is Sacha Inchi?

Sacha Inchi has been classified as an endangered plant by the Peruvian government. When buying Sacha Inchi, it is therefore important to pay attention to its origin and sustainable cultivation. Organic seals can be particularly helpful in this regard. There are also various local projects that are supported by the government and ensure sustainable cultivation. You can also pay attention to this when looking for the right Sacha Inchi product for you.
Did you know that Sacha Inchi can help in the fight against climate change and with increasing population numbers? According to a March 2020 study by Nete Kotedahl(4), sacha inchi as a natural resource can sustainably meet our need for unsaturated fatty acids. This could, for example, also reduce the consumption of fish and prevent overfishing of the oceans.

A sustainably grown Sacha Inchi product is therefore very environmentally friendly and also does something good for your body.

What are the alternatives to Sacha Inchi?

Sacha inchi is a particularly good source of unsaturated fatty acids. However, these can also be found in other foods if Sacha Inchi is not for you, e.g. because of the taste, an allergy or for ecological reasons. Alternative suppliers of unsaturated fatty acids are, for example:

  • Fish(3)
  • Seaweed
  • Avocado
  • Linseed(3, 12)
  • Chia seeds (12)

However, these alternatives also have disadvantages. Personal needs and tastes determine the choice between them.

Image source: tevarak11 / 123rf

References (15)

1. Wang S, Zhu F, Kakuda Y. Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.): Nutritional composition, biological activity, and uses. Food Chem. 2018 Nov 1;265:316-328. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.05.055. Epub 2018 May 29. PMID: 29884388.
Source

2. Wang X, Liu A. Expression of genes controlling unsaturated fatty acids biosynthesis and oil deposition in developing seeds of Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.). Lipids. 2014 Oct;49(10):1019-31. doi: 10.1007/s11745-014-3938-z. Epub 2014 Aug 14. PMID: 25119487.
Source

3. Maurer NE, Hatta-Sakoda B, Pascual-Chagman G, Rodriguez-Saona LE. Characterization and authentication of a novel vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids, sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) oil. Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134(2):1173-80. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.02.143. Epub 2012 Mar 3. PMID: 23107745.
Source

4. Kodahl N. Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.)-from lost crop of the Incas to part of the solution to global challenges? Planta. 2020 Mar 17;251(4):80. doi: 10.1007/s00425-020-03377-3. PMID: 32185506.
Source

5. Bueno-Borges LB, Sartim MA, Gil CC, Sampaio SV, Rodrigues PHV, Regitano-d'Arce MAB. Sacha inchi seeds from sub-tropical cultivation: effects of roasting on antinutrients, antioxidant capacity and oxidative stability. J Food Sci Technol. 2018 Oct;55(10):4159-4166. doi: 10.1007/s13197-018-3345-1. Epub 2018 Jul 23. PMID: 30228414; PMCID: PMC6133840.
Source

6. Soimee W, Nakyai W, Charoensit P, Grandmottet F, Worasakwutiphong S, Phimnuan P, Viyoch J. Evaluation of moisturizing and irritation potential of sacha inchi oil. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Apr;19(4):915-924. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13099. Epub 2019 Aug 23. PMID: 31441999.
Source

7. Alayón AN, Ortega Ávila JG, Echeverri Jiménez I. Metabolic status is related to the effects of adding of sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) oil on postprandial inflammation and lipid profile: Randomized, crossover clinical trial. J Food Biochem. 2019 Feb;43(2):e12703. doi: 10.1111/jfbc.12703. Epub 2018 Oct 28. PMID: 31353666.
Source

8. Srichamnong W, Ting P, Pitchakarn P, Nuchuchua O, Temviriyanukul P. Safety assessment of Plukenetia volubilis (Inca peanut) seeds, leaves, and their products. Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Apr 2;6(4):962-969. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.633. PMID: 29983959; PMCID: PMC6021735.
Source

9. Gonzales GF, Tello J, Zevallos-Concha A, Baquerizo L, Caballero L. Nitrogen balance after a single oral consumption of sacha inchi (Plukenetia volúbilis L.) protein compared to soy protein: a randomized study in humans. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2018 Feb;28(2):140-147. doi: 10.1080/15376516.2017.1373880. Epub 2017 Sep 18. PMID: 28854833; PMCID: PMC5955778.
Source

10. Avila-Sosa R, Montero-Rodríguez AF, Aguilar-Alonso P, Vera-López O, Lazcano-Hernández M, Morales-Medina JC, Navarro-Cruz AR. Antioxidant Properties of Amazonian Fruits: A Mini Review of In Vivo and In Vitro Studies. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019 Feb 17;2019:8204129. doi: 10.1155/2019/8204129. PMID: 30911350; PMCID: PMC6398032.
Source

11. Gonzalez-Aspajo G, Belkhelfa H, Haddioui-Hbabi L, Bourdy G, Deharo E. Sacha Inchi Oil (Plukenetia volubilis L.), effect on adherence of Staphylococus aureus to human skin explant and keratinocytes in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Aug 2;171:330-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.06.009. Epub 2015 Jun 16. PMID: 26087228.
Source

12. Moore EM, Wagner C, Komarnytsky S. The Enigma of Bioactivity and Toxicity of Botanical Oils for Skin Care. Front Pharmacol. 2020 May 29;11:785. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00785. PMID: 32547393; PMCID: PMC7272663.
Source

13. Stockert K. Lipidmediatoren und ihre Rolle bei Entzündungen und Allergien. Allergieprävention. 2020 Mar 25:185–245. German. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-58140-7_6. PMCID: PMC7122452.
Source

14. Takeyama E, Islam A, Watanabe N, Tsubaki H, Fukushima M, Mamun MA, Sato S, Sato T, Eto F, Yao I, Ito TK, Horikawa M, Setou M. Dietary Intake of Green Nut Oil or DHA Ameliorates DHA Distribution in the Brain of a Mouse Model of Dementia Accompanied by Memory Recovery. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 4;11(10):2371. doi: 10.3390/nu11102371. PMID: 31590339; PMCID: PMC6835595.
Source

15. Gonzales GF, Gonzales C. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study on acceptability, safety and efficacy of oral administration of sacha inchi oil (Plukenetia volubilis L.) in adult human subjects. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Mar;65:168-76. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.12.039. Epub 2014 Jan 2. PMID: 24389453.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Wang S, Zhu F, Kakuda Y. Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.): Nutritional composition, biological activity, and uses. Food Chem. 2018 Nov 1;265:316-328. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.05.055. Epub 2018 May 29. PMID: 29884388.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Wang X, Liu A. Expression of genes controlling unsaturated fatty acids biosynthesis and oil deposition in developing seeds of Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.). Lipids. 2014 Oct;49(10):1019-31. doi: 10.1007/s11745-014-3938-z. Epub 2014 Aug 14. PMID: 25119487.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Maurer NE, Hatta-Sakoda B, Pascual-Chagman G, Rodriguez-Saona LE. Characterization and authentication of a novel vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids, sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) oil. Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134(2):1173-80. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.02.143. Epub 2012 Mar 3. PMID: 23107745.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Kodahl N. Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.)-from lost crop of the Incas to part of the solution to global challenges? Planta. 2020 Mar 17;251(4):80. doi: 10.1007/s00425-020-03377-3. PMID: 32185506.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Bueno-Borges LB, Sartim MA, Gil CC, Sampaio SV, Rodrigues PHV, Regitano-d'Arce MAB. Sacha inchi seeds from sub-tropical cultivation: effects of roasting on antinutrients, antioxidant capacity and oxidative stability. J Food Sci Technol. 2018 Oct;55(10):4159-4166. doi: 10.1007/s13197-018-3345-1. Epub 2018 Jul 23. PMID: 30228414; PMCID: PMC6133840.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Soimee W, Nakyai W, Charoensit P, Grandmottet F, Worasakwutiphong S, Phimnuan P, Viyoch J. Evaluation of moisturizing and irritation potential of sacha inchi oil. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Apr;19(4):915-924. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13099. Epub 2019 Aug 23. PMID: 31441999.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Alayón AN, Ortega Ávila JG, Echeverri Jiménez I. Metabolic status is related to the effects of adding of sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.) oil on postprandial inflammation and lipid profile: Randomized, crossover clinical trial. J Food Biochem. 2019 Feb;43(2):e12703. doi: 10.1111/jfbc.12703. Epub 2018 Oct 28. PMID: 31353666.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Srichamnong W, Ting P, Pitchakarn P, Nuchuchua O, Temviriyanukul P. Safety assessment of Plukenetia volubilis (Inca peanut) seeds, leaves, and their products. Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Apr 2;6(4):962-969. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.633. PMID: 29983959; PMCID: PMC6021735.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Gonzales GF, Tello J, Zevallos-Concha A, Baquerizo L, Caballero L. Nitrogen balance after a single oral consumption of sacha inchi (Plukenetia volúbilis L.) protein compared to soy protein: a randomized study in humans. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2018 Feb;28(2):140-147. doi: 10.1080/15376516.2017.1373880. Epub 2017 Sep 18. PMID: 28854833; PMCID: PMC5955778.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Avila-Sosa R, Montero-Rodríguez AF, Aguilar-Alonso P, Vera-López O, Lazcano-Hernández M, Morales-Medina JC, Navarro-Cruz AR. Antioxidant Properties of Amazonian Fruits: A Mini Review of In Vivo and In Vitro Studies. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019 Feb 17;2019:8204129. doi: 10.1155/2019/8204129. PMID: 30911350; PMCID: PMC6398032.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Gonzalez-Aspajo G, Belkhelfa H, Haddioui-Hbabi L, Bourdy G, Deharo E. Sacha Inchi Oil (Plukenetia volubilis L.), effect on adherence of Staphylococus aureus to human skin explant and keratinocytes in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Aug 2;171:330-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.06.009. Epub 2015 Jun 16. PMID: 26087228.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Moore EM, Wagner C, Komarnytsky S. The Enigma of Bioactivity and Toxicity of Botanical Oils for Skin Care. Front Pharmacol. 2020 May 29;11:785. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00785. PMID: 32547393; PMCID: PMC7272663.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Stockert K. Lipidmediatoren und ihre Rolle bei Entzündungen und Allergien. Allergieprävention. 2020 Mar 25:185–245. German. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-58140-7_6. PMCID: PMC7122452.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Takeyama E, Islam A, Watanabe N, Tsubaki H, Fukushima M, Mamun MA, Sato S, Sato T, Eto F, Yao I, Ito TK, Horikawa M, Setou M. Dietary Intake of Green Nut Oil or DHA Ameliorates DHA Distribution in the Brain of a Mouse Model of Dementia Accompanied by Memory Recovery. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 4;11(10):2371. doi: 10.3390/nu11102371. PMID: 31590339; PMCID: PMC6835595.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Gonzales GF, Gonzales C. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study on acceptability, safety and efficacy of oral administration of sacha inchi oil (Plukenetia volubilis L.) in adult human subjects. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Mar;65:168-76. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.12.039. Epub 2014 Jan 2. PMID: 24389453.
Go to source
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