Do you have nut allergies or peanut allergies? I do, and I really miss being able to snack on healthy, satisfying nuts. Well there’s a new nut-like snack that is actually a seed—easily digested, and very unlikely to cause an allergic reaction–even if you are allergic to nuts or peanuts. Sacha Inchi, also known as an Incan ‘peanut’ (not to be confused with real peanuts!) is the seed of a plant that grows in the rainforests of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. Although it is just recently appearing on the shelves of healthy food stores in the United States, it has been around for 3000 years and has been a food staple in South America.
Sacha Inchi seeds have some amazing health benefits, largely stemming from the healthy omega 3, 6, and 9 fats they contain. Sacha Inchi contains an optimal balance of omega 3’s to omega 6’s. They are also high in protein, amino acids, vitamin E, and easily assimilated vitamin A (vitamin A needs fat to be utilized in the body), making them an excellent food for vegetarians as well.
Serious Amounts of Healthy Fats to Protect the Heart, Brain, and Bones
Sacha Inchi seeds contain 6 grams of healthy Omega 3 fats per ounce. So you thought nuts were the one of the best sources of healthy fats? How about this–Sacha Inchi seeds contain over 3 times the amount of omega 3 fats compared to walnuts. And, since this nutty seed contains so much healthy omega 3 fats, you get all the great benefits of omega 3’s from eating this delicious snack.
Foods high in omega 3 fats lower LDL cholesterol and raise the healthy HDL cholesterol. While cholesterol is not as big of a deal as authorities once thought it was, in terms of heart disease, it is important to have good ratios of HDL to LDL to protect against heart disease.
Sacha Inchi is also important for lowering inflammation in the body, especially when it comes to soothing irritation in the blood vessels, and fighting inflammation in the brain, which can lead to depression/anxiety, bad moods, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega 3 fats are also very valuable in helping the body absorb calcium necessary for healthy strong bones and to prevent osteoporosis. In addition, their anti-inflammatory effect soothes arthritis to ease joint pain.
The Happy Snack for Better Moods, Weight Loss and Blood Sugar Control
In addition, these super seeds contain tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin, a ‘feel-good’ brain neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm and happy. Higher serotonin levels also help to regulate your appetite to help prevent cravings—especially for sweets and carbohydrates—the biggest contributors to an expanding waistline. And—because they are high in protein and healthy fats, they are a satisfying food to snack on.
The high protein and healthy fat content also make them an excellent food for diabetics who are trying to keep blood sugar low. Omega 3 fats are thought to reduce insulin resistance as well as lowering triglyceride levels which is a heart disease risk.
Sacha Inchi seeds contain 5 grams of fiber per ounce which is great for your digestive system to provide a healthy environment for the growth of probiotic bacteria in our gut. They contain twice the fiber as walnuts or almonds.
The seeds are usually roasted and salted slightly and have a delicious, nutty flavor.
Sacha Inchi seeds are a natural crop that helps to sustain and maintain the beautiful rainforests of South America, and creating a sustainable source of income for the indigenous people in South America. So what’s good for you is also good for the environment!
Where to Find Sacha Inchi Seeds
Sacha Inchi seeds are not that easy to find at standard supermarkets. However, many health foods stores are starting to carry them—Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have them, or you can easily order them from Amazon.com or Thrive Market online. They have become my new favorite snack! Try them on a salad, with a bowl of fruit, or on your yogurt or oatmeal in the morning for an extra boost of nutrition.