Sacha inchi, Indian oil with medicinal value
UN/DICYT The native sacha inchi seed is also known as the “Inca-peanut” and has high fatty polyunsaturated acid and antioxidant content, with promising industrial, cosmetic and medicinal potential. This was determined by UNal-Palmira Agricultural Sciences master’s candidate Zully Adriana Hurtado, who assessed the potential of products produced using sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis).
Hurtado focused on the compositional and physical-chemical analysis of the whole seed which thrives in the Province of Putumayo.
The ecotypes of this seed, native of the Peruvian amazon, have not been identified. A native seed is currently being cultivated in municipality of La Hormiga, in the Province of Putumayo for oil extraction.
Hurtado washed dried and stored seeds at 4 º C (39 º F) obtaining 20 kilos of unshelled nuts to produce the product. Afterwards she carried out a physical-chemical and compositional analysis of the product.
For the physical-chemical study the researcher assessed variables such as proximal analysis and chromatographic quantification of fatty acids, as well as amino acid antioxidant activity and chromatographic analysis and in vitro digestibility of sacha inchi meal.
The results showed that the oil contains high polyunsaturated fatty acid content (83.5%) and that due to its high omega 3 content it is classified as a linolenic acid such as soy oil, wheat germ, and linseed.
“This is a healthier oil in regards to others such as soy, peanut or palm oils due to its high essential fatty acid content (omega 3, 6 and 9),” said Hurtado.
They help reduce cholesterol levels and also play an important part in nervous system tissue formation (myelination), as well as ocular tissue and cell membrane structuring.
“The fatty acid profile as well as the physical-chemical characteristics and viability in obtaining of raw material make the oil an ample range alternative for industrial and nutritional level applications,” said Hurtado.
Seed meal showed high digestibility in regards of ground almonds with in vitro values of 88.49 % for sacha inchi meal and 93.55 % for the one submitted to heating.
According to Hurtado, the data suggests an elevated digestibility of the protein contained in the seed and showed an absence of damage during the extraction procedures and sample analysis.
Antioxidant activity tests substantiated that the oil is a natural source of antioxidants, turning the plant into a promising species for active principle isolation and for regulating antioxidant defenses of the human body.
In Colombia, the Provinces of Caquetá y Putumayo have the greatest amounts of crops of this seed where it is mostly used for commercial purposes.
However, there are not many bibliographic references on the physical-chemical properties of the seed to corroborate its use, neither additional compositional information to promote its industrial use.