By now, most of us are aware of the importance of omega-3 and just how essential this essential fatty acid is to our health. Studies have shown us that optimal omega-3 intake can protect against illness, increase energy, help retain mental function as we age, and greatly improve our overall well-being. Omega-3 reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease, while playing a beneficial role in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, digestive disorders, and a host of other conditions, including obesity, memory problems and allergies. As such, omega-3 containing oils have received a lot of much-deserved attention in recent years.  But which is the best?

 The answer may be found in a little known plant from the Amazon Rainforest called Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis L.), also known as the “Inca Nut” (although it is not technically a nut). Sacha Inchi is a plant native to the Amazon of Peru that produces a unique seed rich in Omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids. The seeds are also abundant in Omega-9 and other nutrients, making it special among other similar plants.

 A little plant with tiny flowers, Sacha Inchi produces a small pod (3 to 5 cm in diameter), bright green when young and dark brown when mature. The pod usually has 6 lobes – each one containing a seed of 15 to 20 mm wide and 7 to 8 mm thick, weighing 1 gram in average.  The plant was originally cultivated by the Incas in the Region of Junin, in a district called Pichanaqui, the best area to grow this plant due to its excellent environmental conditions (soil, humidity, sun, etc.). It grows at 500 meters (1,650 ft) over sea level in a mountain hillside at the end of the Andes on the jungle side, in a place protected from excessive rain, floods and high winds. The soil is particularly special – soft and muddy, and very rich in mineral content.

 Using selected raw seeds, Sacha Inchi Oil is obtained through a true cold press extraction process. This means that it is manually and mechanically pressed without the use of heat or chemical solvents to preserve all of its nutritional value. A filtration process is utilized thereafter to eliminate any impurities and achieve the final product. The result is unrefined, organic extra virgin oil with a light colour and a pleasant nutty flavour, very rich in nutrients and an excellent source of essential fatty acids.

 Sacha Inchi oil’s lipid content is ideal, as it is remarkably high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats (particularly omega-3) and conversely low in saturated fats.  It contains 93% unsaturated fats, more than fish oil (65-77%) or any plant-based oil. Its 84% polyunsaturated fat content (of which 50% is Omega-3 and 34% is Omega-6) is also the highest of any vegetable oil, and it possesses the best ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 of any oil at  1:1.4 (the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1).  

 Because of its composition, Sacha Inchi oil is also the most easily digestible vegetable oil.  Its essential fatty acids are considered precursor fatty acids, which allow the body to easily convert them to DHA and EPA fatty acids like those commonly found in fish.

 Furthermore, Sacha Inchi oil’s naturally high vitamin E and antioxidant content acts as a natural preservative, resulting in oil that requires no refrigeration. It’s light, nutty flavour makes it a welcome addition to any raw food. Combining Sacha Inchi oil with balsamic vinegar, liquid extract and olive oil creates a particularly flavourful salad dressing, but its likeable taste makes it suitable for consumption at any time, even on its own.    

 Given the general lack of Omega-3 fats in our diets, Sacha Inchi Oil represents one of the best and most appealing sources of this essential nutrient available today, and a wise choice for anyone interested in eating right and maintaining good health. 

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