“What interested me most about sachi inchi is it is 60 to 65% protein, and once it’s pressed there is a little oil left in it. That’s nice because it has omega-3 and omega-6, which are required in the human body,” said David Janow, CEO and president of Los Angeles-based Axiom. “It’s a complete package for customers who want to take advantage of the variety—oils and fiber—that they might not otherwise get from a single-source protein.”
After harvest, the sacha inchi seeds are treated through a mechanical, solvent-free, cold-press process to remove most of their oil, leaving 5 to 10% fat in the protein. The resulting defatted protein meal is then ground into a powder that is high in an easily digestible form of protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, dietary fiber for digestive health and essential nutrients for electrolyte balance, according to Janow. It has a shelf life of about two years, similar to Axiom's brown rice protein.
Potential as a complementary protein
Axiom has been sourcing sacha inchi from Peru for about a year. It has just begun marketing the product in North America and plans to branch into Europe momentarily. Janow doubts that Incatein would ever be a mega protein like soy, though it has advantage over other proteins as an add-on because of its extra benefits.
“It’s expensive because there’s a limited supply,” he said, adding that he has already seen significant interest from a number of existing customers. “It could be used as standalone protein, but it would be a great complementary protein to rice, pea, hemp, potato—or any other single-source protein, because it brings that combination of protein and omega-3 and 6. We also know it boosts energy levels and has antioxidants.”
Incatein has potential for applications in raw foods like chia or quinoa and could be sprinkled like a topping over cereal and yogurt products. It also would work well in nutritional beverages or supplements, and has potential in cosmetics because of the oil and protein content. It is not heat sensitive, so would work well in baked applications like bars.
“Because of the cost, right now it is going to be difficult to go mainstream, especially in food industry,” he said, noting that the oil eventually will be put into capsules under the Growing Naturals line, which Janow also owns.
Axiom is currently conducting clinical trials to determine other potential benefits of Incatein on promoting tissue regeneration and muscle development, along with maintaining proper cholesterol levels. It also may be helpful for controlling blood sugar level.
“Sacha inchi has been used for thousands of years—it’s not a new source,” Janow said. “It’s just a source we’re actually extracting and developing benefits for now.
“As we saw this week, canola protein has gone belly-up for now, so you’ve got to have a sustainable product. This is sustainable. Will it meet customers’ interests? Maybe not. But it’s a great nutritionally dense product for someone wanting to meet all these claims.”