Kola (Oji): So Much More Than Just A Nut.

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What’s kola nuts?

Kola, Oji as it’s named in Igbo land is a type of nut having a chest shape ranging from red, pink to white in colour.

It’s native to West Africa, with many significant culturally, economically important, reputed to dispel all manner of illnesses.

It have travelled far and wide and their therapeutic reputation has travelled with them over centuries and across continents.

In African Igbo, kola (oji) is regarded as a sacred fruit when blessed. They use it a symbol of blessing, peace, grace and progress when praying to the creator(Chineke in Igbo).

They use it to welcome visitor/guest and also use it to use welcome God in a special way in any traditional ceremony.

While some of the health claims made for kola may be exaggerated, or at least semi-distorted, some research has shown that kola nut extract contains the stimulants caffeine, theobromine and kolatin, and glucose.

And is able to counteract fatigue, alleviate thirst and hunger, and possibly enhance intellectual activity.

Ready to learn more health benefits of kola nuts?

Let’s dive in.

Nutrition Facts

Kola nuts are high in caffeine, a compound that acts as a central nervous stimulant and has been linked to a long list of potential health benefits, ranging from increased energy levels to reductions in hunger and appetite.

In addition to providing a hearty dose of caffeine in each serving, kola nuts are also high in theobromine, a chemical compound found in food sources like chocolate and tea leaves.

Theobromine can dilate the blood vessels, stimulate the heart and act as a natural diuretic to promote urine production.

Kola nuts also offer a range of antioxidants and polyphenols, including catechin, epicatechin, apigenin and naringenin.

Types/Varieties

Keep in mind that the kola nut should not be confused with gotu kola or bitter kola (akuinu), also known as Garcinia kola.

Like the kola nut, these two plants are known for their medicinal properties and have been used to treat a variety of ailments.

However, despite having a similar name, they are unrelated and belong to completely different species of plants.

Kola nuts are very common throughout West Africa and often consumed fresh or dried for a quick burst of caffeine.

Red, pink, and white kola are the two main varieties, each of which is produced by the same plant species and sometimes even found within the same pod.

In some parts of the world, kola nut extract and kola nut powder are much more common than the fresh nut itself.

In addition to bumping up the caffeine content of these products, they also provide a unique taste and aroma.

Uses of Kola nuts

Although you may not be away of this, kola nuts sometimes called cola nuts is the common ingredient found in everything from soft drinks to herbal supplements.

Not only does this nutritious nut boast a unique flavor and aroma, but it’s also brimming with caffeine as well.

In fact, each pod packs the equivalent caffeine content of about two cups of coffee nutrition, along with a host of antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.

Kola nuts are high in caffeine and often used as an herbal supplement and natural food flavoring. The kola nut taste is initially very bitter, but it becomes sweeter when chewed.

Kola nuts as an ingredients are found in many sodas, energy drinks, weight loss drugs and herbal supplements.

The nuts can be dried, giving them a much more mild flavor and nutmeg-like aroma which make it very useful for flavouring.

Health Benefits Of Kola Nuts

Here are a few of the ways that this healthy nut could impact your health.

1. May Increase Weight Loss

Due to its caffeine content, some research suggests that the kola nut could potentially help upgrade weight loss.

This is because caffeine has been shown to increase metabolism by bumping up the amount of calories burned throughout the day.

It may also help decrease energy intake, which could also be beneficial for weight loss.

One animal model conducted in Nigeria even found that administering kola nuts to mice led to significant reductions in body weight and food intake compared to a control group, suggesting that this nutritious nut could potentially helpsupport weight loss in humans as well.

2. Enhances Energy Levels

Kola nuts are high in caffeine, a compound found in coffee and tea that acts as a central nervous stimulant.

Caffeine alters the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to increased energy levels, focus and alertness.

What’s more, studies even show that moderate amounts of caffeine could also enhance endurance, brain function and mood while decreasing the perception of fatigue.

3. Stabilizes Blood Sugar

Recent studies have focused on the potential relationship between the kola nut and diabetes.

According to a 2019 animal model published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, kola nut extract was found to have powerful anti-diabetic properties and was able to decrease blood sugar levels when administered to rats.

Not only that, but treatment with kola nut extract also was able to improve the function of beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for the production of insulin.

Kola nuts are also rich in caffeine, which may be beneficial for balancing blood sugar levels.

One massive study in Archives of Internal Medicine even found that each cup of coffee consumed per day was associated with a 7 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

4. Could Help Treat Migraines

Caffeine has long been used as a natural remedy to provide quick relief from headaches and migraines. It works by constricting blood vessels in the brain, which can decrease blood flow and reduce pain.

According to one study in the Journal of Headache and Pain, combining caffeine with over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen significantly improved symptoms of migraines and tension headaches compared to medications alone.

In some folk’s traditional medicine, kola nuts have been used to treat migraines and headaches, along with many other conditions ranging from morning sickness to indigestion.

However, more scientific studies are needed to evaluate the effects of the kola nut and whether or not it can treat or prevent headaches.

5. May blocks Growth of Bacteria

Some research has found that the kola nut could possess potent antibacterial properties, which could potentially help prevent the growth of harmful, disease-causing pathogens.

One in vitro study conducted in Nigeria noted that red and white kola nut extracts were effective against several strains of bacteria, including Streptococcus anginosus and Proteus vulgans, both of which can cause dangerous infections in humans.

dried and grounded kola nut

How To Incorporate Kola To Your Diet

Depending on where you live, you may have a hard time finding fresh kola nuts for sale at your local supermarket. In many African local grocery you can find fresh kola at any time.

Certain online retailers and specialty shops may carry them, but they are often available in powder, capsule or tincture form instead.

The best way to ripe the benefit in kola is to eat it in moderation whether in fresh form, powder, capsule or via drinks.

Try mixing powdered varieties into yogurt, smoothies or cereals for a kick of caffeine and antioxidants.

Alternatively, you can use it to brew kola nut tea by combining one teaspoon with a cup of hot water and steeping for a few minutes to taste.

Related: Eating Bitter Kola (Garcinia Kola) Regularly May Reduce Your Sperm Count. Research Reveal

Related: 10 Ways Artificially Carbonated Drinks Affect Your Health.

Risks and Side Effects

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)and NAFDAC, the kola nut is generally recognized as safe for human consumption.

However, although this nutritious nut can be safely consumed by most, there are a few kola nut side effects to consider as well.

Because kola nuts are high in caffeine, it’s very important to keep your intake in moderation.

Not only is caffeine very addictive, but consuming high amounts can cause side effects like hyperactivity, nervousness, fidgeting and sleep problems.

It’s generally recommended to limit caffeine intake to less than 400 milligrams per day for most healthy adults.

However, those who are pregnant should limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams per day to avoid caffeine overdose.

Caffeine is also not recommended for infants, children or adolescents, as there is limited research on its safety or potential side effects.

If you have any underlying health conditions or take any medications, it’s best to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or starting any new supplements.

Conclusion

Kola, Oji as it’s named in Igbo land is a type of nut having a chest shape ranging from red, pink to white in colour.

Kola nuts are high in caffeine, a compound that acts as a central nervous stimulant and has been linked to a long list of potential health benefits, ranging from increased energy levels to reductions in hunger and appetite.

One in vitro study conducted in Nigeria noted that red and white kola nut extracts were effective against several strains of bacteria, including Streptococcus anginosus and Proteus vulgans, both of which can cause dangerous infections in humans.

Keep in mind that the kola nut should not be confused with gotu kola or bitter kola (akuinu), also known as Garcinia kola.

The best way to ripe the benefit in kola is to eat it in moderation whether in fresh form, powder, capsule or via drinks.

It’s generally recommended to limit caffeine intake to less than 400 milligrams per day for most healthy adults. And 200 milligrams for pregnant women. Due to high caffeine in kola nut it’s not recommended for children.

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content provided in Living Good is for informational and educational purpose only. It’s not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal doctor. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Living Good takes no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person(s) reading or following the information in this educational content. Viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over the counter medication, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

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