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Why eating great food is the best health decision you'll ever make.
A good friend of mine involved in the natural foods business recently asked me to chat with a colleague of his about a product and company that he thought were interesting – sacha inchi seeds.
I am always dubious when contacted by a new natural foods products company. Many of you who read this weekly column know that we are usually disappointed. Somehow the product line has one good item or misses the mark in actual flavor or texture. However, this friend is super smart and very tuned in to what is new and what is cool in the food world.
What are sacha inchi seeds? They are tropical seeds widely grown in South America and Southeast Asia. There are some cool properties to the seed – the main one is that it is neither tree nut nor legume nor whole grain. As such, those who are allergic to the big eight allergens don't have problems with them. Reason enough to consider this as an alternative for those who have a peanut or tree nut allergy, but the other cool thing is that the seeds have both a ton of fiber (5 grams per ounce) as well as Omega-3 fats (4.8 grams per ounce - 4 ounces of Atlantic salmon has between 2.3 and 2.8 grams).
The very affable owner of the company sent samples including two varieties of seed butter and a bag of lightly salted and roasted sacha inchi seeds. The company, Brass Roots Foods, makes a few other snack products using the seed that are available via their website, Amazon and specialty stores across the country.
In spite of my skepticism the roasted seeds are really delicious. They look like a small flattened sphere – in truth a bit like cat treats. They are amazingly crunchy and have a texture similar to roasted almonds but a bit lighter. The flavor is pretty earthy but in a mellow, umami way, with hints of the way fresh mown hay smells. That combined with the saltiness is surprisingly good.
The interesting thing is an ounce contains only 85 milligrams of sodium. These taste a LOT saltier than the package would belie and that is great – a salty/savory snack that is low in sodium, no more calories than any other nut, great quality fats, and a ton of fiber. Even though these may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, it is worth acquiring because the flavor is so different.
Now, I have peanut butter toast for lunch about four days a week, so it would take a lot for me to change to a new version of nut/seed butter. I generally use the fresh ground peanut butter from the grinder in the store, so it has no added sugar or salt – just pure peanut flavor. There is often separation, with the oil floating to the top, and this is a good thing because you know that it has not been mixed with other ingredients - just good fresh peanut butter. About the only national brand peanut butter that is made this way is Smuckers Natural. It has no added sugar and just a bit of added salt. So I am used to stirring my peanut butter, and you have to do that with both Brass Roots Classic and Chocolate sacha inchi seed butter.
Like the seeds themselves, these are both a bit of an acquired taste. There is some added sugar and salt in both versions, but they need that to balance the earthy flavor. The Classic version also contains a bit of cinnamon, and that comes through creating an exotic flavor. It is something that will really appeal to kids.
Even more appealing, and by far the superior is the Chocolate version. It is very much along the lines of Nutella but a much healthier version (and every bit as tasty). Nutella has an extra 30 calories per serving and most of that is coming from added sugar (2 tablespoons of Nutella contains over 4 teaspoons of sugar) but only 1 gram of fiber.
Good products for anyone, especially those with allergies, but definitely good for those wanting to be healthier. A good side benefit is that the company has a great social mission both in New Orleans and in collaboration with their seed farmers in Southeast Asia.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, MD
Posted: September 10, 2020