10 Surprising Benefits of Sacha Inchi

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are different types of nuts and seeds grown around the world. Sacha inchi is the unique one, both for the shape of its fruit and its impressively high nutrient density. Its health benefits include the ability to improve skin appearance, regulate blood pressure, aid in weight loss and more. That being said, it is important to understand all the details of this food, including its nutritional information, potential health benefits, and possible side effects.

What is Sacha Inchi?

Sacha inchi is a perennial plant that is native to South America and may be called by a number of names, including Inca Peanut and Mountain Peanut. The scientific name of this plant is Plukenetia volubilis. For hundreds of years, these simple fruiting bodies have been cultivated in South America by indigenous people, but the seeds are only beginning to be exported to other countries. These plants are also widely grown in Southeast Asia and have become a staple snack in Thailand.

The fruit of this plant is small and star-shaped, containing 4-7 pods. It becomes green upon ripening, but they are commonly allowed to dry, so the inedible pulp inside the fruit can dry, leaving the seeds easy to separate and consume. There is one seed in each of the pods of the fruit, and the seeds are quite similar to almonds, both in taste and accessibility within the seed pod. You cannot eat the seeds raw, but after roasting these seeds, they can be a delicious and incredibly healthy snack, thanks to the high concentration of nutrients found inside. In fact, sacha inchi seeds have been widely called the newest “superfood” in certain natural healing circles. The oil derived from these seeds is also highly sought after for its concentration of antioxidants and active organic compounds. [1]

Nutrition Facts of Sacha Inchi

Sacha inchi seeds are packed with nutrients, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as protein, vitamin E, dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and various other antioxidants. Sacha inchi seeds do contain a high level of calories, with roughly 170 per ounce of these seeds. A small serving should be sufficient to enjoy the other health benefits of these seeds. [2]

Health Benefits of Sacha Inchi

The impressive health benefits of sacha inchi include improving digestion, aiding in weight loss, managing diabetes, stimulating cognition and eliminating inflammation, among others.

A couple of sacha inchi seeds on a wooden platform

Sacha inchi is safe for you when consumed in moderation. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Skin Care

With a high level of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as various antioxidants, these tasty seeds can be an excellent addition to your skincare regimen. They are able to help in improving the appearance of the skin, while also reducing wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes. In addition, they have soothing anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent psoriasis and eczema. [3]

Weight Loss

Although there is a significant level of calories in sacha inchi seeds, there is also a huge amount of dietary fiber. Even a handful of these seeds can satiate your appetite and prevent overeating and snack between meals. This can be a major boost to your weight loss efforts, while also providing a wide range of other essential nutrients. [4]

Hair Care

Many people don’t realize that a certain amount of healthy fats are necessary for proper hair health. These can help to lock in moisture in the hair, thus preventing dry hair and split ends. It can also stimulate growth and repair, and even eliminate inflammation on the scalp, such as dandruff. [5]

Lowers Blood Pressure

With notable levels of potassium in every handful of sacha inchi seeds, you lower your blood pressure if you suffer from hypertension. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can help to reduce the strain on arteries and blood vessels. [6]

Improves Digestion

Dietary fiber is a key element in normal digestive processes, and sacha inchi seeds have a high level of dietary fiber. This fiber is able to help bulk up the stool and prevent symptoms of constipation, bloating, cramping and diarrhea. It can also help lower your risk hemorrhoids which can be caused by the improper passage of the bowels. [7]

Helps Manage Diabetes

Sacha inchi oil is rich in gamma- and delta- tocopherols. Its other components include vitamin A and E, omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. While further research is needed, these properties deem it suitable for people with diabetes. [8]

Lowers LDL Cholesterol

Adding “good” fats to the body is the fastest way to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels, which cause plaque deposition in the arteries. [9]

Prevents Cognitive Disorders

Inflammation is the main cause of cognitive disorders, particularly when it comes in the form of oxidative stress. This inflammatory damage may increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Increasing your level of omega-3 fatty acids may help defend these conditions. [10]

Improves Sleep Quality

One of the overlooked nutrients in sacha inchi is tryptophan, an important amino acid that can speed the release of serotonin, which is a “feel good” hormone. In conjunction with the magnesium in sacha inchi, this can induce relaxation for people who struggle with sleep disorders and insomnia. [11]

Eye Care

With high levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene, sacha inchi seeds can help boost vision health by preventing macular degeneration and slowing the onset of cataracts as we age.

Side Effects of Sacha Inchi

This new “superfood” has a lot of potential health benefits, but there are some side effects to be aware of, such as nausea and mood swings.

  • Nausea – Some people experience nausea and gastrointestinal distress as a result of eating sacha inchi, but this tends to be when people consume too many of these seeds. Due to their nutrient density, only a small number of these seeds need to be eaten for their benefits to take effect.
  • Mood – The mood-altering effects of sacha inchi are well-known, primarily due to their impact on certain key neurotransmitters in your body. This may interfere with other medications that are prescribed and may result in emotional swings that can be disconcerting. If severe mood swings occur, stop eating these seeds immediately.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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