Inca nut (sacha inchi) oil

inka orah

Plukenetia volubilis L. Plukeneteiae

INCI: Plukenetia volubilis seed oil

Purpose: extremely nourishing oil, anti-age cosmetics, very dry skin care

Price: medium expensive oil

The secret of healing: α-linolenic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids

My note: intriguing oil of a nourishing composition, an interesting “green-grassy” scent and a light texture. More stable compared to other oils with α-linolenic acid (e.g. flaxseed oil).

Oral use: absolutely, as a ω-3 acids supplement. However, it is rarely used due to the price.

You can already guess from the name that this oil comes straight from South America. Inca nut, or inca inchi or sacha inchi, grows in the high rainforests of the Andes, where the locals gather hard fruits with fatty seeds and prepare them as food. Chanka Indians prepare a dish from corn flour, ground inca nuts and hot peppers. This dish is ideal for the climate in which they live, because it is rich in proteins and oils and makes their hard work and hard life easier. They probably didn’t even dream that this plant would one day help solve a completely opposite problem: lowering high cholesterol in the gluttonous nations of the rich world.

Inca nut, similar to flaxseed oil, perilla oil, camelina and hemp seed oil, contains large amounts of essential α-linolenic acid. Were it not for the already mentioned fat nations, the Inca nut would have remained in the anonymity of the local climate. But the constant search for quality oils has launched it into orbit in the last two decades or so, due to two major obsessions of the modern world: skin aging and vascular disease.

Inca nut oil is a very pleasant, gentle oil and one of the top oils for dry skin. It will work wonders every time when it is necessary to restore vitality. Since it is a relatively stable oil, you can use it in emulsions (creams and milks). It is good in combination with argan oil and jojoba, but with also kukui oil, with which it shares the chemical similarities of fatty acid composition. Mixing kukui and inca nut oil is a pure game of textures, because kukui is quickly absorbed and you can adjust the texture that suits you by mixing them. By no means forget that this oil is very interesting for cosmetics from within, especially for mature skin and if you otherwise have problems with dyslipidemia (disbalance of fat in the blood).

Although there are no prescribed standards for inca nut oil, we know from scientific papers that it has a very high concentration of α-linolenic and linoleic, and smaller amounts of oleic and palmitic acid. Of the vitamin E complexes the oil contains according to [1] 1.257g/kg γ-tocopherol and, interestingly, 0.869g/kg δ-tocopherol, which is relatively rarely present in such quantity in vegetable oils. High levels of tocopherol contribute to its far greater stability than flaxseed oil. Furthermore, the oil also contains polyphenols that act as additional antioxidants.

“Oh, no, another oil for dry skin,” you might say. Another of the exotics. I admit that this oil may not be first on the shopping list, but you may discover in it small advantages compared to myriads of oils rich in essential fatty acids. Whether it’s the scent or the texture, or just your little emotional preferences, I leave it to you. It is an excellent oil in light texture emulsion systems, with rosemary verbenon or cornflower hydrolate… Or come up with your own ideas.

Quality requirement*
Basic characteristics 
Organoleptic characteristicsClear liquid pale-yellow to yellow in colour with a fresh odor.
Saponification number191 - 197
Peroxide number mEq O2/Kgmaximum 10.0
Iodine number139 - 142
Fatty acid content (%)
C16:0 palmitic acid3.0 - 5.0
C18:0 stearic acid2.0 - 4.0
C18:1 oleic acid9.0 - 10.5
C18:2 linoleic acid32.0 - 37.0
C18:3 α-linolenic acid45.0 - 51.0

*based on references and manufacturers. Minor deviations are possible.

Useful references

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