5 Amazing Benefits of Kola Nut

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The important health benefits of the kola nut include its ability to boost the metabolism, optimize digestion, increase heart rate, help with weight loss, help to prevent certain types of cancer, boost the immune system, protect the respiratory system, raise energy levels, improve cognition, and increase circulation.

What is a Kola Nut?

Although many people are familiar with the word “cola”, they may not realize that the source of that name is actually the Cola genus, which includes the kola tree where the kola nut comes from. The tree is native to the tropical rainforests of Africa and contains caffeine, which makes it desirable as both, a food source and an element in alternative medicine for some cultures around the world.

Kola nuts are used as flavoring agents in soda of many varieties, which is where the name “cola” arose. Kola nuts are often chewed or eaten in traditional ceremonies. While its most common application is as the flavoring agent, its medicinal benefits have begun to make it a popular dietary supplement for health, despite its slightly bitter taste. Kola nut can be found in energy drinks, dietary supplements, and performance enhancers.

A wooden spoon of dried kola nuts kept on a jute cloth

Health Benefits of Kola Nut

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of the kola nut.

Boosts Metabolism

One of the unique effects of the kola nut, largely due to its caffeine content, is its ability to stimulate the body and increase heart rate. While this can potentially be dangerous for people who suffer from pre-existing heart conditions, it can provide a necessary metabolic boost for those with a slow metabolism. This can actually optimize heart health, as caffeine can be a health stimulant in moderate doses. This also helps the metabolism optimize itself, which has a wide range of positive enzymatic and physiological effects on the body.

Increases Circulation

Kola nuts were traditionally consumed because they “cleared the mind”. By stimulating heart rate and increasing circulation, kola nuts are able to boost oxygenation to certain essential parts of the body, including the skin, organs, and even the brain. This is why kola nuts are sometimes referred to as cognitive boosters, as increased levels of oxygen in the brain have been connected with higher levels of cognition and concentration. This can also promote healing of wounds and cellular repair through the increased flow of oxygen and nutrients.

Improves Digestion

For thousands of years, kola nuts have been chewed or consumed by indigenous cultures in Africa both in ceremonies and in the treatment of digestive problems. The active ingredients of the kola nut are able to improve digestion and nutrient uptake, while also reducing constipation, bloating, cramping, and other, more serious, gastrointestinal issues.

Anticancer Potential

Although research is still in its early stages and is still a matter of debate in some circles, some of the phytoestrogens and phytoandrogens found in kola nuts are able to stimulate apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. This line of study is relatively new, but applications for other types of cancerous cells are also being explored.

Research done in 2009 by the Department of Chemistry, Southern University Baton Rouge, USA has found that kola nuts contain bioactive compounds that show cytotoxic properties and they can induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells.

Boosts the Immune System

The roots, stem, and leaves of the kola tree have volatile compounds that can prevent certain bacterial infections in the human body. These bacterial infections include those responsible for causing a wide range of respiratory illnesses like bronchitis. Kola nut extracts are available in most health stores, but the nuts themselves have not been directly connected to this medicinal benefit.

Weight Loss

Although caffeine has long been known as an appetite suppressant to a certain degree, kola nut extracts have also been connected with increased fat-burning in the body, possibly due to the positive impact on metabolism that these nuts can have. This can be an ideal option for those people who are trying to lose weight or improve the quality of their diet.

Word of Caution: The significant level of caffeine found in kola nut extracts and supplements can be a risk for those who already suffer from high blood pressure or sensitivity to caffeine. Its side effects include shaky hands, upset stomach, and insomnia, as caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Consult a medical professional before a kola nut addition to your dietary regimen.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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