Benefits of Kola Nut And Its Side Effects

Benefits of Kola Nut And Its Side Effects

Although the kola nut does not boast the same kind of nutrients as some kinds of nuts, it is still extremely beneficial. The main active ingredient in this nut is caffeine. This nut boosts metabolism, improves heart rate, improves immunity, pushes energy through the body, prevents certain kinds of cancer, assists in losing weight, and helps keep the eyes healthy.

Benefits of Kola Nut And Its Side Effects

Kola Nut

Native to the tropical rainforests of Africa, the kola nut derives its name from the Cola genus of trees. As the name suggests, the cola plant has also given us the cola drink. The tree of the kola nut contains caffeine and in some cultures is considered a gift worthy of being presented to tribal captains and chiefs. It is also used in day to day life, where it is chewed by people, either individually or in a group setting. It has a shell, which is peeled and discarded before consuming the nut inside it.In regions apart from Africa, the kola nut is used majorly as a flavoring ingredient. It was used as a source of caffeine in the cola drink and its variants, although this practice has declined.

Nutritional Value of Kola Nut

One of the reasons why the kola nut is classified as a healthy food is because of its chemical components. Even though it is not nutrient rich in the traditional sense, it still has a chemical composition that offers many short term and long term health benefits. Each kola nut contains about 2—3.5% of caffeine and 1—2.5% of theobromine. Additionally, it is also comprised of theophylline, phenolics such as phlobaphens, epicatechin, D-catechin, and tannic acid. It is also rich in sugar and water.

Health Benefits of Kola Nut

Mentioned below are the best health benefits of Kola Nut

Treats Malaria

A popular variety of the kola nut, the bitter kola, is known to have effectively treated malaria, according to many experimental studies. Although the idea originally originated from traditional sources where a tribe’s healers would prescribe the bitter kola to malaria patients, studies have confirmed that the quinone content of the kola nut was able to treat the infection in the body. Further, it has been reported that kolaviron, which is a chemical compound found in bitter kola, when tested on the malaria parasite, inhibited malarial activity.

Prevents Glaucoma by Reducing Eye Pressure

According to some researches, glaucoma is caused by an increase in pressure on the eye. 0.5% of the extract of the Garcinia kola nut was used to create eye drops for a research study conducted in Nigeria. The results of the study revealed that this opthamolic solution reduced eye pressure, and was most effective when used twice a day. While not everyone might have access to this medicinal solution, the kola nut can be consumed orally. Although the effect might not be targeted, it definitely improves overall eye health. It can relieve the stress on the eyes caused by modern habits and lack of proper nutrition in our diets.

Increased Circulation

Consuming kola nuts boosts oxygenation by stimulating increased circulation. Improved oxygenation benefits many parts of the body, including but not limited to, extremities, internal organs, skin, and the brain. Better circulation to the skin keeps it healthier and younger looking for a longer period of time. For the internal organs, it implies vitality and overall improved health. When the amount and flow of oxygen improves throughout the body, cells can repair themselves and wounds are naturally healed. Kola nuts are sometimes called ‘cognitive boosters’. The biggest reason for this is that when it improves blood circulation to the brain, cognition and concentration has been known to dramatically improve.

Boosts the Immune System

The chemical components of the kola can prevent the incubation of certain life-threatening bacteria in the body. In this way it can combat a range of respiratory conditions such as bronchitis. Furthermore, it is known to minimize the risk of developing tuberculosis and meningitis.

Improves Metabolism

One of the biggest reasons why caffeine is consumed in such large amounts is because it acts as a stimulant that pushes a surge of energy that enables the body to go into action at almost a moment’s notice. The way in which this energy is pushed into the body is that caffeine stimulates the heart to pump more blood, and this circulation of oxygenated blood carries glucose with it, which produces energy when burned. The kola nut, with its abundance of caffeine, can have the same effect on the human body. People who suffer from low metabolism can consume this nut to improve metabolism and the health of the heart. When consumed in moderation, the kola nut enables the body to burn and consume energy optimally and stabilizes heart rate.

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Improves Gastrointestinal Health

In their cultivation and consumption of the kola nut, people in African tribes believed that chewing the kola nut improved the regularity and quality of their bowel movements. Researchers have confirmed that this is true, but the benefits of this nut extend far beyond that. The kola nut contains certain active ingredients that improve nutrient consumption in the body, and also reduce inflammation and bloating, constipation, and cramping. It is a known fact that menstruating women experience many of these uncomfortable symptoms. Consuming a moderate amount of kola nuts during menses can relive them of these symptoms. Additionally, it also impacts gastrointestinal health in the long run by keeping serious issues at bay.

Treats Prostate Cancer

Kola nuts are rich in phytoestrogens and phytoandrogens. Although research on this matter is still underway, some studies have concluded that these nuts attack the prostate cancer cells and stimulate apoptosis, which means cell death. This effect is being studied on other cancer types.

Assists in Weight Loss

The kola nut can assist in losing weight in two ways. Caffeine has been known to suppress appetite and as it is available in abundance in the kola nut, consuming a handful of it ensures that the body feels full for a longer period of time. It can be consumed with breakfast to avoid the urge to snack before lunch. Or it can be consumed as a snack, since it is definitely healthier than the snacks we tend to consume, and it consequently ensures that we don’t overeat during lunch.However, there is a second way in which kola nuts enable weight loss. It has been closely linked with fat-burning properties. This could be due to its effect on improving the body’s metabolism. In these ways, kola nuts are ideal dietary supplements in a weight loss regimen.

Treats Osteoarthritis

As we already know, kola nuts are able to treat inflammation in the body. Some research studies have found that the compounds found in the kola nut can also treat osteoarthritis. This condition is characterized by intense pain and inflammation in the joints, along with limited movement. It can be caused by a number of things, including obesity, aging, and injury. In one study the Garcinia kola, particularly, relieved the symptoms experienced by osteoarthritis patients by reducing pain and inflammation, and increasing the capability of joint movement.

Uses of Kola Nut

Kola nuts, as we already know, are used as a flavoring agent in cola drinks. However, culturally and historically, in Africa the kola nut has been consumed orally by those who cultivated these plants. This activity was a day-to-day occurrence, but it was also known to have ceremonial significance. More recently, the kola nut and its extract has been used in health supplements, performance enhancers, and energy drinks. This nut is hard to find in the local supermarket and can usually only be found in specialty grocery stores. As can be expected, it is also priced similarly, and as a result not everyone can afford to purchase this nut and avail its benefits. However, if obtained, they can be consumed directly in small to moderate quantities on a daily basis.

Side-Effects /Allergies of Kola Nut

Although the major component of the kola nut, caffeine, has many benefits, there are also side effects to watch out for. Those who suffer from high blood pressure and heart conditions should not consume this nut without professional advice, as the stimulant can have detrimental effects on the body. The caffeine can induce jitters when consumed in large amounts. Even though one of its most prominent benefits is improved digestion, it can upset the stomach, by causing heat in the body, when consumed in large quantities. The best time of the day to consume kola nuts is during the day when there are higher chances of physical activity utilizing the caffeine completely. If consumed at night it can cause insomnia. Lack of proper sleep, in turn, can impact other bodily functions.

Cultivation of Kola Nut

The kola nut appears to have ancient origins, with many West African cultures chewing the nut in individual and social settings. They hold great value in the spiritual context of countries such as Niger, Sierre Leone, Nigeria, and Liberia. These nuts were offered to deities in religious ceremonies. In some cultures, it was also used as currency, showing that the value placed on this nut was very high. It was only in the 1800s that the flavoring aspect of the kola nut was discovered.

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