What Is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is a fatty substance derived from the nuts of the African shea tree. It has been used for centuries in Africa for cooking and as a beauty product. In recent years, shea butter has gained popularity in the Western world as a natural alternative to traditional beauty products and as a food ingredient. In this article, we will discuss the safety of eating shea butter, its traditional uses in food, and the potential health benefits.
Mariam Mahama cooking Koose and Bow Fruit, fried it in Baraka Shea Butter
A close up of the Koose frying in Baraka Shea Butter
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Is Shea Butter Safe To Eat?
Is All Shea Butter Edible?
Shea butter is generally considered safe to eat. It is a natural product that has been used in African cuisine for centuries.
All Baraka Shea Butter is the same, handmade shea butter that has been used for cooking and sustenance for millennia.
However, not all shea butter is edible. Some shea butter is refined and processed, making it less suitable for consumption. Unrefined, raw shea butter is the best option for food preparation as it has not been treated with any chemicals and retains its natural properties.
Check out this short clip of Mariam Mahama cooking Koose and Bow Fruit, frying it in Baraka Shea Butter. Koose (spicy bean cakes) is a traditional staple made with bean flour. In the background you can see the ground pepper, onions and tomatoes prepared as seasoning for the Koose:
What Does Shea Butter Taste Like?
Its flavor is often described as nutty, with a slightly sweet undertone. The nuttiness comes from the fact that it is made from the nuts of the shea tree, which have a similar taste to other tree nuts such as almonds and walnuts. The slight sweetness comes from the natural sugars present in the nuts.
Here's another clip of Mariam cooking Koose in Baraka Shea Butter while her colleague grinds the peppers, tomatoes and onions to go with it. Days like these bring the whole community together - the women get to visit while they cook and the children get to play with each other!
Shea Butter Nutrition Facts
Shea butter is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is particularly rich in vitamin A and vitamin E, which are both known to be beneficial for the skin. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy skin and eyes, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from damage caused by UV rays and environmental toxins. Shea butter also contains small amounts of other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin F, and zinc. Shea butter is a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Traditional uses of Shea Butter for food
Traditionally, Shea butter is used in cooking and food preparation in West Africa, where the Shea tree is native. It is used as a cooking oil, as well as an ingredient in soups, stews, and porridges. Another way Shea butter is consumed is as a spread on bread and as a dip for vegetables. It is also an ingredient used to make a type of fermented porridge called koko, which is made with millet, sorghum, or other grains and flavored with spices, peanuts, and Shea butter. Additionally, Shea butter is used in some traditional confections and candy sweets.
The Benefits Of Eating Shea Butter
One of the most common traditional uses of shea butter in food is as a cooking oil. In West Africa, shea butter is often used to fry plantains and other starchy foods. It is also used in the preparation of stews and soups, adding a rich, nutty flavor and helping to thicken the dish. Shea butter can also be used in the preparation of traditional dishes such as Egusi Soup and Pounded Yam.
Another traditional use of shea butter in food is as a spread. In some cultures, shea butter is mixed with honey or sugar to make a sweet spread that can be eaten with bread or porridge. This spread is a popular breakfast food in many West African countries, including Ghana and Nigeria.
It is also used in the preparation of traditional African sweets and confectioneries. In Ghana, for example, it is used in the making of "kelewele", a popular street food made from fried plantains that are spiced with ginger and chili. In Nigeria, it is used in the making of "kuli-kuli", a popular snack made from ground peanuts or other nuts, mixed with shea butter and spices.
One of the main benefits of eating shea butter is its high content of healthy fats. Shea butter is a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are known to improve heart health and lower cholesterol levels. These types of fats are important for maintaining overall health, and can help to keep the body and mind functioning properly.
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Natural Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Another benefit of eating shea butter is its anti-inflammatory properties. Shea butter has been traditionally used to treat a variety of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also be beneficial for those with joint and muscle pain.
Eating shea butter may also benefit weight management as it is relatively low in calories and high in healthy fats. It can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied, which can help to prevent overeating and weight gain.
Excellent Source Of Vitamin E
As previously mentioned, Shea Butter is also rich in vitamins and nutrients and it's a great source of Vitamin E that helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthen the body's natural defense against illness and infection (the immune system).
Is It Better To Eat Or Topically Apply Shea Butter?
The benefits of shea butter can be enjoyed both by consuming it and by applying it topically. Eating shea butter can provide a boost of healthy fats and vitamins, while applying it topically can help to improve the condition of the skin. It is important to note that not all shea butter is suitable for consumption and unrefined, raw shea butter is the best option for food preparation.
Conclusion: Unrefined Shea Butter Is Safe For Food Preparation
Shea butter is a natural product that has been used in African cuisine for centuries. It is safe to eat and can provide a boost of healthy fats and vitamins. Unrefined, raw shea butter is the best option for food preparation, as it has not been treated with any chemicals and retains its natural properties. If you're looking for a natural alternative to traditional beauty products and cooking oils, shea butter is a great option to consider.
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