Perilla Seeds and Sacha Inchi Seeds


Perilla seeds and sacha inchi seeds are concentrated sources of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) but have not been covered extensively in scientific research studies.

Perilla has a long history of use as food throughout Asia, and sacha inchi has likewise been a feature of Peruvian diet for several centuries.

Both Perilla and Sacha Inchi are relatively unknown outside of Asia and South America but appear to have good potential for improving PUFA balance and would benefit from increased scientific research.

Perilla Seeds

Professor William E M Lands, in his excellent book Fish and Human Health, mentions perilla, stating that its seed oil has the highest percentage of ALA that he had found up to that time. He speculated that other seeds with high n-3 to n-6 ratios would be discovered in the future.

Perilla, also known as the beefsteak plant is, in common with chia, a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family. Like flax seeds, perilla seeds have been used in the manufacture of industrial products such as paints, varnishes, lacquers and linoleum.

Various parts of the perilla plant, including the leaves, are used extensively in Asian cuisine.

Perilla is known as shiso in Japan, where its leaves are commonly used as ingredients in several dishes. The seeds are widely used in Korean cuisine and also in certain Nepalese and Indian dishes.

Some scientific research material was found but this did not contribute much towards our understanding of the health benefits of perilla seeds, beyond the impact of ALA, which has been covered elsewhere.

Perilla is not covered by the USDA database and no nutrient analysis of the seeds was found, apart from the ALA content, which was given as 60% of the oil according to Siriamornpun (referencing Gunstone et al 1994) and 64% according to Brenner.

Sacha Inchi Seeds

Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis), a native plant of the Amazon rainforest, is believed to have been cultivated as a food crop by pre-Incas and Incas in Peru.

Only two scientific studies were found that provided a PUFA analysis of sacha inchi seeds. The first, by Hamaker in 1992, gave an ALA content of 45.2% of total oil and an LA content of 36.8%.

The second study, by Guillen in 2003, made a direct comparison between sacha inchi seeds and flaxseeds. It showed an ALA content of 47.4% for sacha inchi compared with 55.1% for flaxseeds. It also demonstrated a much higher level of LA for sacha inchi at 39.3%, compared with 18.5% for flaxseeds. This still gives a n-3 to n-6 ratio of greater than one for sacha inchi, which is highly beneficial.

The antioxidant content, and therefore implied stability, of sacha inchi needs to be assessed. Some sources suggest that sacha inchi seeds contain significant levels of vitamin A and vitamin E, although we have not yet been able to substantiate this.

Sacha inchi seeds are not included in the USDA database.

Check which research studies we read for perilla seeds and sacha inchi seeds