The kola nut, also known as bissy, is the fruit of the kola tree, native to the tropics of Africa. In many West African cultures, kola nuts are used in ceremonies presented to chiefs or guests. When boiled, the fruit can be used as a flavoring ingredient in drinks to make cola. At first bite, kola nuts are bitter at the taste but sweeten when chewed. Two percent of kola nuts comprise of caffeine, as well as two other stimulants, kolanin, and theobromine.
Here are the seven health benefits of kola nuts.
1. Kola nuts may possess antimicrobial properties.
Lowe et al. 2014 published a study in the Advances in Biological Chemistry suggesting that the kola nut shows promising results against microbes. The fruits showed antimicrobial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans when compared with antibiotics and antifungals Gentamicin and Nystatin.
2. Kola nuts may help fight cancer.
Solipuram et al. 2009 measured the chemoprotective properties of kola nuts, which contained phytoestrogens and phytoandrogens. These nonsteroidal chemicals mimic or disrupt sex-linked hormones like estradiol and dihydrotestosterone to prevent hormone-dependent cancers like breast and prostate cancers.
3. Kola nuts could help improve your mental well-being.
Kola nuts are comprised of two percent caffeine, a stimulant. This psychoactive substance is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain to block an inhibitory transmitter named adenosine. Once that occurs, brain cells increase in firing rate because of the build-up of excitatory neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. This process could help improve memory, boost energy levels, and increase reaction times.
4. Kola nuts could help you suppress your appetite.
Umoren et al. 2009 conducted an animal study monitoring mice that ate kola nuts and body weights for 28 days. They found that mice that ate chow with kola nuts ate less total chow than mice that did not eat kola nut. Also, the mice’s body weight significantly dropped when compared with kola nuts.
5. Kola nuts could help you burn fat.
A basal metabolic rate is the minimal rate of energy your body burns when not exercising or moving around. The amount of energy burned is measured in calories. When your metabolic rate increases, you burn more calories at rest. One of the main ingredients in fat burning supplements is caffeine. Research shows that caffeine can help boost your metabolic rate by 3-11 percent.
6. Kola nuts can be used as a diuretic.
Theobromine, formerly known as xantheose, is another abundant stimulant in kola nuts. This bitter chemical increased urine production which can help treat heart failure, liver cirrhosis, hypertension, influenza, water poisoning, and certain kidney diseases.
7. Kola nuts can help improve blood circulation to your body.
Caffeine, theobromine, and kolanin can stimulate the heart rate, thus increasing circulation. This action can help boost oxygenation to certain parts of the body like the skin, organs, and brain. Increased oxygen levels in the brain have been linked with increased concentrating and higher cognition.