Shea butter is often known as a great product for your skin; it’s been used for centuries to keep people looking youthful. But did you know there are also benefits to eating shea butter? In Western Africa, where the shea tree is native, shea butter is used to cook regularly since the butter that normally comes from cows isn’t available.
As a whole, the benefits of eating Shea Butter are numerous. Examples of reported benefits of consuming shea butter include reducing inflammation, preventing acne, lowering cholesterol, reduction of muscle soreness, and maintaining skin health. However, more definitive research is needed.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of eating shea butter.
Below, we’ll discuss all of the fantastic benefits you could potential gain from making shea butter a regular part of your diet.
The Benefits of Eating Shea Butter
Shea butter can be an excellent substitute for butter and other fats used while cooking.
It may not be your first choice when it comes to buttering your pan for eggs, but it is something to consider if you are looking to reap the health benefits it can provide.
Shea butter contains plant sterol esters, which have been known to stop the enzyme that causes inflammation, as well as pain and stiffness to the joints; this makes shea butter potentially an ideal choice for anyone who suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or any other type of arthritis.
Antioxidants are substances that help protect your cells from free radicals, which are at the root of many health conditions, such as cancer.
Antioxidants can also help slow the aging process and prevent various ailments, such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and immune deficiency.
The antioxidants found in shea butter are known as polyphenols, which are also found in:
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Some wines
Polyphenols are thought to help with digestion and brain health and prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
3. Lowers Cholesterol
The oil from shea butter is monounsaturated fat, similar to that of coconut and avocado oil.
These oils positively impact blood lipids that help lower LDL cholesterol levels; this reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
4. Contains Key Vitamins
Shea butter contains key nutrients, such as vitamins A, E, and F. These vitamins are vital to keeping your body and its various functions working:
- Vitamin A - This vitamin A is crucial for your vision and immune system. It can also help in cancer prevention, bone health, reduces the risk of acne, and aids in reproduction health.
- Vitamin E - Vitamin E is a vitamin that will dissolve in fat. This is why nuts and oils can be a great source of the vitamin. It can help keep your heart, bones, eyes, and organ tissues healthy.
- Vitamin F - Vitamin F is needed to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, support mental health, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. Promotes Healthy Skin
As most already know, shea butter is excellent for your skin. It’s been used in lotions and creams for centuries.
Although its benefits for your skin are mostly reaped with topical applications, shea butter still offers similar benefits when ingested, as the body can absorb its key nutrients, vitamins A, E, and F.
These same nutrients also help protect the skin from developing cancer.
6. Contributes to Healthier Hair
Just like how it helps your skin, shea butter can also make your hair healthier and more robust when eaten.
The vitamins A and E in the butter and the fatty acids are great for repairing and maintaining healthy hair.
However, shea butter can also be applied directly to the scalp to eliminate dandruff and scalp irritation.
7. Medicinal Applications
Many counties in Western Africa have been using shea butter to treat cold and flu symptoms for many years.
As mentioned above, shea butter has properties to help reduce inflammation, so it can be used to relieve inflamed nasal passages that usually contribute to common cold symptoms.
It can help with congestion and reportedly can also be used as a cough suppressant.
Are There Any Side Effects of Eating Shea Butter?
While there are no drastic side effects from consuming shea butter, you should still exercise caution as you would with any other fat or oil.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when consuming shea butter:
Many studies have been done on whether or not shea can be a trigger for those with nut allergies.
While there is no definitive answer, one study suggests it is safe to consume by those with nut allergies as the amount of protein found in shea is less than 1/30th the amount found in cashews.
Of course, it is always better to be safe than sorry; always check with your doctor or allergist before consumption!
Too Much is Never Good
As will all fats and oils, too much is never a good thing.
Use moderation when adding shea butter to your foods or using it in place of dairy butter.
While the monounsaturated fats found in the butter are great for your heart, shea contains just as much saturated fats. These are more harmful to you as they can raise your bad cholesterol.
Additionally, just like all fats, too much can contribute to weight gain.
Not All Shea Butter is Edible
Don’t think just because you see shea butter as an ingredient in a product that it is edible.
Many creams and lotions contain shea but also have chemicals that are not safe for consumption.
Only eat natural, pure shea butter from a reputable food store that is labeled safe to eat.
You may also want to avoid eating refined shea butter as it is created mechanically and with the help of chemicals. Opt for raw, unrefined shea butter instead.
Finally, shea butter can last up to 18 to 24 months if stored properly in a cool and dry place in an airtight container.
Always check it to make sure it has not spoiled before eating; shea should naturally have a nutty aroma, so if it smells rancid, throw it out.
Cooking with Shea Butter
Adding shea butter in place of other fats in your cooking is an excellent way to make sure it is included in your diet.
The butter has a nutty taste that will work well with certain foods. Also, shea butter has a higher burn temperature than dairy butter and other oils; this makes it great for frying foods without burning them.
The following are a few ways to add shea butter into your meals:
- Use in place of dairy butter or oil when making eggs, grilled cheese, or cooking vegetables.
- Use shea butter in baking recipes instead of other fats.
- Keep it simple; spread some on your morning toast or muffin.
- Experiment with creating recipes based around the nutty shea butter flavor.
- Create your own chocolate using shea butter. Many chocolate manufacturers use shea butter in their recipes because it gives the chocolate a smoother consistency.
Nutrition Facts for Shea Butter
|Shea Butter Nutrition||Shea Butter (1 tablespoon)|
The serving size for shea butter is equal to 1 tablespoon.
When it comes down to it, shea butter is all fat, so you don’t have to worry about adding extra sugar and sodium to your diet when you add it to a meal.
Shea butter is mostly known for helping achieve healthier skin.
However, shea butter, when eaten, can also offer many benefits. From its anti-inflammatory properties to the vitamins it contains, shea butter—when eaten in moderation—can promote a healthier body!
Our skin is the largest organ of our body, and it needs special care and attention. The problem is that most people aren't taught how to take proper care of their skin, which can result in dryness, itching, or rashes.
Even though there are many products on the market that claim to nourish your skin, they often contain ingredients such as parabens or mineral oil. These ingredients may be harmful to you and your family's sensitive skin.
Naturally Tribal Skincare was created with sensitive skin in mind. Our Body Foods have been specially formulated using Shea Butter to nourish, protect, and moisturize problematic skin without any of the harmful ingredients you might find in other body care brands. Our products are 100% natural making them perfect for use from birth all the way through adulthood!