Sacha Inchi: The Next Big Superfood?

Superfoods provide several health benefits as part of a balanced diet. These foods are rich in fiber, provide a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, and contain antioxidants or reduce inflammation. There is a new seed coming to market which fits that description and is actually native to South America, particularly to the Amazon.

Sacha Inchi looks and tastes much like a nut. It has a crunchy, earthy flavor when roasted. A versatile food, it can be used as a snack, to top a salad, or paired with dark chocolate chips for a healthy sweet treat. The mature fruit is star-shaped and produces the large brown seeds.

Why is it a superfood? Sacha Inchi happens to be very high in alpha-linolenic acid, a health promoting omega-3 fatty acid much like what is found in flaxseeds and walnuts.

About 1 oz. of seeds will provide 170 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of protein in addition to the unsaturated fats.

Why is alpha-linolenic acid an important part of a balanced, heart-healthy diet? Alpha-linolenic acid can be converted into eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), the types of omega-3 found in fish and sea vegetables. A moderate fat diet full of healthful fats like those from plants instead of from animals can help reduce inflammation and protect you from heart disease or even stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to improve brain function, improve cholesterol or lipid panels, and decrease both vascular inflammation as well as systemic, or general body, inflammation.

By Anna Dean, MS, RD, LD, CTTS

References:

http://myvega.com/products/vega-saviseed/features-benefits

www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/sacha-inchi

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/13/716/abstract

photo credit: www.incaliving.com

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