By Theresa DeLay - DietsInReview.com
It's the newest "it" food of the moment - Inca peanuts. Thanks to a recent endorsement by Dr. Oz, plugging these as a new super food, everyone wants to know more about these little nuts. Also called sacha inchi nuts, they are cultivated in the Andes Mountains of Peru. They've been enjoyed for centuries by the Incas and are making their debut here in the states as the must-have health food of the summer.
Historians believe that the sacha inchi plant (which produces the seeds known as Inca peanuts) has been used by the natives of Peru for more than 3,000 years. The seeds are shelled and eaten in a number of ways: raw, roasted, topped with sugar, or as an oil in traditional Peruvian recipes. It's even been used as a cosmetic facial cream in some areas.
For those of us living far from the Andes, Inca peanuts remain elusive. It can be hard to find them and the high cost for ordering can be a deterrent. Your best chance for finding them is in specialty health food stores or online sources, but be sure they're trustworthy like Amazon. As Inca peanuts skyrocket in popularity, there will no doubt be sources try to get the better of the unassuming consumer. Do your homework, and don't order Inca peanuts from "free trial" offers, unknown Internet brands, or from anything else that seems sketchy. As did with acai, availability will increase as interest and demand increases - although there's really nothing new about a centuries-old Amazonian plant.
SaviSeed, a fair trade and organically certified Inca peanut company, is one brand on the up-and-up. They claim that Inca peanut crops encourage the reforestation of the Amazon. Per their website, "SaviSeed crops aid in returning previously cleared land of the Amazon rainforest to its native state while supporting the economy for rural farmers."
Of course, with Dr. Oz's plug and the heightened awareness of this healthy food, everyone wants to know if it's really worth it.
The Inca peanut health claims include the ability to lower blood pressure, relieve depression, and increase calcium absorption, among many others. In addition to being a rich source for vitamin E, the impressive nutritional profile of Inca peanuts includes the following, per one ounce serving:
- Omega 3 - 7000mg
- Protein - 8 grams
- Tryptophan - 29mg
- Fiber - 5 grams
It's no wonder that Dr. Oz promotes Inca peanuts as one of the healthiest weight loss snacks around. Loaded with fiber and other nutrients, Inca peanuts satiate hunger, provide healthy fats and are easy to digest. Plus, they are gluten free! However, don't be one of those that changes everything about the way you eat, and spends a bunch of money devoting yourself to some made-up Inca Peanut Diet.
"Dr. Oz's accolades are all well and good, but the Inca Nut has quite a carbon footprint, and for what?," asks Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, and Nutritionist for CalorieCount.com. "Dr. Oz fails to mention that all nuts and seeds have some great combination of omega fatty acids, vitamin E, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients left unsaid. For good health, everyone should eat a wide variety of nuts and seeds. There are so many, think of pistachios, walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, sesame, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Eat some nuts and seeds everyday for good health."
Like any other healthy food, be it celery, mango, or more exotic, just make it a part of your diet. A one-ounce serving of Inca Peanuts has about 190 calories; so budget those calories and one of your two daily snacks if you want to reap the benefits of Inca peanuts.
And don't fall under Dr. Oz's spell and think that this is the weight loss wonder you've been waiting for. "Also note that nowhere did Dr. Oz say that Inca Nuts have drug-like compound that promotes weight loss." She gently reminds us to "remember, they are not magic. Use them as you would walnuts."
More fun and exotic healthy snack ideas from DietsInReview.com:
10 Healthy Snacks for 100 Calories or Less
Kale Chips: A Healthy Snack with Crunch
New Study Dubs Pistachios as "The Skinny Nut"
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