Have you ever heard about the kola nut before? We wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t. However, kola nut health benefits are numerous, and after learning about and possibly trying it, you will be happy you did.
Ready to find out more about this versatile nut? Then let’s check it out.
What Is The Kola Nut?
The kola nut actually got its name thanks to the caffeine content it possesses (cola=caffeine). It is native to the tropical rain forested parts of Africa, and is often included in beverages that contain caffeine as it also acts as a natural flavoring agent. Kola nuts are obtained from a few related plants all belonging to the genus cola.
Not surprisingly, it has been consumed natively by people residing in those areas as it can help to stimulate energy, and is even used in religious ceremonies, presented to chiefs of tribes or visiting guests.
In the Western world, you are likely to see kola nut, sometimes just regarded as “cola” or “kola” mentioned on the labels of many energy boosting drinks and supplements.
Interesting fact – the invention of Coca-Cola by a United States pharmacist in the 1880s originally included kola nuts as one of its extracts, in addition to sugar flavorings, cocaine – yes that cocaine!, and carbonated water to make the world’s most popular beverage.
12 Amazing Health Benefits of Kola Nut
1. Supports A Healthy Metabolism
You would have undoubtedly consume something with caffeine before, whether that be coffee or in energy boosting type of supplement or drink.: Nuts deliver much the same effect, thanks to the caffeine presence, which over a short period of time increases a person’s basal metabolic rate.
Fat burning is also enhanced, as is the rate of sweating in the production of energy. This makes: not perfect for helping lose weight.
2. Supports Digestion
Digestion actually begins in the mouth with the production of saliva, which acts upon food to begin the breakdown of starches. Kola nuts help the digestive process from this point, but act most significantly in the stomach, where it can help increase the production of gastric acid.
Gastric acid breaks down food into a semisolid liquid form known as chyme, which subsequently enters the small intestines for absorption.
Kola nuts also increase the rate of gastric emptying, so that food or medication does not spend an extended period of time in the stomach. This may be useful to people suffering from gastric ulcers which may cause extended pain the longer the food remains in the stomach.
3. Increases Blood Flow
Caffeine has mixed effects in terms of blood flow. For one, it does act as a mild vasoconstrictor, which actually causes blood vessels to narrow. However, it is also been found that caffeine increases the production of nitric oxide, which acts as a vasodilator. However, kola nuts don’t contain caffeine alone. They also contain other methlyxanthines such as theobromine, which are known to have a stimulatory effect on the heart to increase the rate of blood flow.
So while the net effect on blood vessels may be neutral, by increasing the rate at which the heart pumps blood, circulation is enhanced to the cells that need it most.
4. Improves Immunity
Kola nuts contains several antioxidant nutrients, which assists with the neutralization of oxidative free radicals that are known to damage cells and trigger an inflammatory cascade.
The nuts are also said to have antibacterial properties which can reduce the likelihood of you picking up a serious bacterial infection. To fully experience this protective effect on your immune system, you should opt for the nuts in place of the extract.
5. Anti-Migraine Treatment
Migraines can be caused by many things, but most manifestations occur because of dilation of the blood vessels under the scalp. As previously mentioned, the caffeine contained in kola nuts possesses mixed vasodilatory and vasoconstrictive effects. It is not sure why, but when consumed for the management of migraines, the actions help cause constriction of these blood vessels, returning the status quo.
Migraine severity and frequency is subsequently reduced, or in some cases relieved altogether. People that consume caffeine on a daily basis are most likely to notice this, since upon attempt to stop using the supplement, severe headache ensue. These headaches are seemingly only relieved by the consumption of more caffeine.
6. Supports Kidney Health
Your kidney is the body’s primary filtration system, helping to remove water soluble waste, and returning precious water circulation. Under certain circumstances, urinary flow becomes obstructed, and the resulting presence of aqueous waste in the kidneys and bladder can cause accumulation of kidney stones.
Kola nuts possess natural diuretic properties that promote urination. This can help flush the kidneys and reduce the likelihood of sedimentation occurring.
7. Supports Weight Loss
Kola nuts are exceptionally effective at supporting healthy weight loss, owing to the nutrients and methlyxanthines it contains. For instance, theobromine helps enhance lung function so that oxygen is delivered to working muscles that need it. More efficient muscle function equates to increase burning of calories.
Caffeine, on the other hand, is already accepted as one of the world’s best weight loss adjuvants. From increasing your metabolic rate, to promoting the usage of fat for fuel and preventing its subsequent storage, the multidirectional approach is a definite boost to your weight loss efforts.
Kola nuts increase the amount of calories you burn every day, which adds to your bottom line weight loss over the long term.
8. Increases Power Generation
Kola nuts and caffeine have been studied as an ergogenic aid for decades. In general, they can help with athletic performance by increasing maximal power generation. This lends itself to either a longer period of time before fatigue sets in, or the ability to move or travel farther distance over shorter periods of time. To put into context what this means, you might be able to surpass your one rep maximum, or sprint a set distance in a shorter period of time.
9. Reduces Androgen -Dependent Cancer Risk
Androgen -dependent cancers are those that affect men, since they are associated with the testicle and prostate gland. Kola nuts contains a mix of phytoandrogens and phytoestrogens, which can inhibit the growth of tumors that depend on endogenous hormone for growth.
One of the most common treatment approaches used for management of male hormone cancers is to suppress the production of these natural hormones. However, these therapies usually occur with several undesirable side effects, most notably on energy levels, motivation and sexual health. Kola nuts may help you to avoid some of these negative outcomes, although it is not approved for the management of such cancers. Preliminary studies have been done, but like the potential of many natural products, more studies need to be conducted to verify its potential.
10. Reduces Symptoms Of Depression
Depression is a major mental health disease that affects a large proportion of the population at some time or the other. Characterized by low brain serotonin and dopamine levels, kola nuts can help reduce the intensity of symptoms you experience.
Owing to the fact that the nuts can act on the central nervous system and the brain to increase the production of these neurotransmitters, users may feel a temporary increase in mood and motivation. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in motivation and reward, and explains why after consuming a cup of coffee – which is high in caffeine, you feel extremely energized, motivated and experience a greater sense of well-being for a few hours.
11. Supports Respiratory Health
Methlyxanthines are currently used in the treatment of respiratory illness, including asthma, bronchitis and COPD. Caffeine and theobromine both belong to this category, which after consumption of kola nuts users experience improved respiration and lung volume. This lends itself perfectly to people that experience exercise-induced asthma or shortness of breath, since your capacity to work out is enhanced.
It is not advised for pulmonary asthma, however, as its ability to increase heart rate can be dangerous.
12. Can Help Remedy Constipation
If you are a regular drinker of coffee, then you know the feeling you experience shortly after having your morning cup – a mad urge to get to the restroom. While some people attribute this to any hot beverage, it is actually the caffeine content which does this. Caffeine increases intestinal motility and causes the urge to evacuate your bowels to be increased. This is especially useful for diabetics, whose damaged vagus nerve may impair natural bowel motions.
Even though kola nuts are an extremely versatile and useful food, it is important to state that it is not ideal for everyone. It may be unsuitable if you possess stimulants insensitivities, or are generally not very receptive to caffeine use. Possible side effects from consuming the nut may include:
- Excessive urination
- Increased blood pressure
- Unsafe increases to heart rate
- Feelings of anxiousness
- Tolerance and dependence
Even though it has its fair share of potentially adverse side effects, the majority of people that use it will tolerate it just fine, and experience its benefits on health.
Once you are given a clean bill of health, it is safe to say that including kola nut consumption in the form of beverages or otherwise can have a positive impact on your life.
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