The Powerhouse Peruvian Superfood You're About to See Everywhere
While each superfood to hit the market is seemingly more "super" than the last, the next big thing in superfoods anything but a gimmick. In fact, it's quietly been a staple health food in Peru for decades. But the secret's out—a powerful seed called sacha inchi is the real deal, and it's about to be everywhere.
Hailing from the mountainous high altitudes of Peru, the seed has long been considered by Peruvians and in-the-know nutrition experts to be one of the planet's most impressive superfoods. And with good reason: Grown in the tough Amazonian rainforest climate, sacha inchi is the plant world's proof that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (or, in this case, more nutritious).
Sacha inchi packs in more omegas than your average fish oil supplement, boasting a full profile of heart and brain-healthy omegas (including omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids). It's also one of the few plant-based complete proteins, meaning it's got all nine essential amino acids (while most other complete proteins come from animals). Just one ounce has nine grams of protein, as well as six grams of fiber to keep its enjoyers fueled and energized.
It's no wonder the seed has been lauded for its astonishing nutrient content in its country of origin. After all, Peru is home to some of the world's most incredible athletic challenges, from the Jungle Ultra 142.6-mile run to grueling Machu Pichu hikes. In a culture with a natural appreciation for health and wellness, athletes and non-athletes alike in Peru use sacha inchi to fuel their lives—and it can be an beneficial addition to a North American diet, too.
While the seeds are excellent snacks on their own, sacha inchi is also commonly found in an oil or powder form, so it's a powerful add-in to any post-workout smoothie (like traditional protein powders, it can also come in flavors, too). It also makes for a great nut butter base, and the seeds can be tossed in trail mix, on salads, and more for an upgrade of healthy fat, fiber, and protein.
Sacha inchi's not the only Peru-sourced superfood that can step up your healthy eating game with a boost of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, though. The country hosts 30 of the world's 32 top climates, including the Andes, a high-altitude mountain region, the Amazon, the rainforest region with hot and humid conditions, and the coast, which acts as a lush outdoor greenhouse.
Their diverse climate zones prime the country for superfood production, including many of the ones you already know and love. Think quinoa, avocado, cacao, blueberries, and artichokes (in fact, Peru was the first provider of artichokes to the U.S.) The country is also home to other superfoods that may not be as familiar to you including camu camu, lucuma, and maca, an adaptogenic root that's a great source of calcium and phosphorus.
Just as important as the country's nutrient-packed offerings, though, are the way they're harvested and sold. Peru is known for its commitment to sustainable, responsible agriculture. There's an emphasis on farms that are up-to-date with current rules and regulations, because after all, it's quality over quantity, according to a representative from the Trade Commission of Peru in NYC. "[Peru] tends to use workers from local communities as a way to give back," the representative adds. "These are also the people that know how to work the lands and have more experience in harvesting."
While all sustainably sourced, nutrient-rich superfoods can enhance your daily diet, sacha inchi is a great place to start, whether you're snacking on a handful at your desk or sipping on a sacha inchi-powered recovery smoothie after a training session.
You can find it at some health stores, as well as online retailers, including the ones below.