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.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Sacha Inchi: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for Sacha Inchi products
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about Sacha Inchi products answered in detail
- 5.1 What is Sacha Inchi and how does it work?
- 5.2 When and for whom is it useful to take Sacha Inchi?
- 5.3 How is the Sacha Inchi plant grown and processed?
- 5.4 What types of Sacha Inchi products are there?
- 5.5 How should Sacha Inchi be dosed and what should I look out for when taking it?
- 5.6 How sustainable is Sacha Inchi?
- 5.7 What are the alternatives to Sacha Inchi?
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.
Sacha Inchi is known to be good for the body - both as food and in cosmetics.
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).
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?
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.
The Sacha Inchi seed is also known as the Inca nut, or often Inca peanut. It is a nut-like seed(4).
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?
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.
|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?
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 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.
What types of Sacha Inchi products are there?
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).
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.
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.
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).
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?
- 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?
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?
- 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
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