African Walnuts (Coula edulis) – Description | Health benefits | Constituents
African Walnuts (Could edulis) is an evergreen plant commonly found in western Africa. However, It is more common in these countries; the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. In these regions, Walnuts are commonly used as food because of their numerous health benefits.
The nuts are commonly accessible as it is hawked in streets and markets. It has an amazing aroma and is sometimes a good source for food condiments.
Description: The African Walnuts
The African walnut tree grows up to 25 m – 39 m in height with dense crowns. The wood is very hard, durable, and resistant to termite and fungal attacks. Hence, It is one of the major sources of Timber in tropical forests.
The Fruit of African walnut is an ellipsoidal drupe measuring 3-4 cm long, with an extremely hard kernel that is cracked to show a smooth greenish or reddish edible part.
Could edulis Bill
- African walnut
- Gabon nut
- Ukpa (Igbo)
- Ekom (Ibibio and Efik),
- Ivianlegde (Edo)
- Asala (Yoruba)
- Dibetou in Gabon and Ivory Coast
- Mpengwa in Ghana
- Kingdom Plantae
- Phylum Angiosperms
- Class Eudicots
- Order Santalales
- Family Olacaceae
- Genus Could
- Specie C. edulis Baill
Chemical constituents of Coula edulis
Phenolic compounds, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Phlobotannins, Flavonoids, Phenols, and Glycosides.
Health Benefits of African walnuts
African walnut tree is popularly known as a great source of Timber due to their high tensile strength and termite resistance. However, that is not the only use of this tree, the bark, leaf, and fruits from African walnut have so many health benefits that are worth mentioning.
Usually, the fruit from the tree is edible and is sold at the roadside in some West African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria. The leaf or bark decoction is also a source of herbal medicine used by many communities in treating different illnesses.
Nevertheless, the list of the health or medicinal uses in this post is going to be research-based.
Nourishes the Skin and revives aging cells
Could edulis is a great source of phenolic compounds, vitamin C, and vitamin E. This is a great source of antioxidants that helps to scavenge the free radicals in the body. It is also found that extracts from the dried seed of C. edulis can remove intoxication by heavy metals such as Lead and Arsenic pensioning.
Helps to ward off infections
Another important benefit of walnuts is their ability to help prevent and treat infections from bacteria and fungus. The extracts from the seed, leaf, and bark can inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus, Candida, and Pseudomonas.
Therefore, consumption of this fruit will serve a great purpose to keep someone free from microorganisms in the environment especially in maintaining oral hygiene.
Walnuts help in weight reduction and obesity
One of the most effective ways to lose weight fast is to balance the calorie intake and the energy dissipated in a day. Walnut is a rich calorie food but studies have shown that the energy absorbed from eating walnuts is lesser than the total energy in the fruit itself.
An experiment published in Pubmed suggests that daily consumption of walnuts can reduce appetite and hence, food consumption in a group of obese patients.
Therefore, African walnuts will benefit those with a history of type 2 diabetes mellitus and also those battling to reduce and watch their weight.
African walnuts help to improve male sexual health
African walnut is one of the ingredients in the preparation of the famous Tiger nut juice (Cyperus esculentus plus other ingredients). This juice has been used by many men as an aphrodisiac and also as a way to improve the quality of their sperm.
Could edulis nuts have the ability to improve sperm motility, vitality, and morphology? The research was observed in 117 men ranging from 21 to 35 years old. The result of the sperm quality after a continuous diet of walnuts was amazing.
Walnuts benefit the functions of the brain
C. edulis is very rich in Polyphenolic compounds that help to reduce the oxidation and inflammatory load on brain cells. Also, the benefits of walnuts include; improvement in intraneuronal signaling, an increase in neurogenesis, and enhanced sequestration of insoluble toxic protein aggregates.
Therefore, walnuts are very essential in the reviving of neuro-degenerative diseases such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
African walnuts can prevent the risk of cancers
So many studies have proven walnuts to be a very good anti-cancer agent. One of the studies is to observe the health benefits of eating peanuts, walnuts, and almonds on the development of breast cancer.
The result shows that the consumption of these three plants can reduce the development of breast cancer by 2 to 3 times.
Nutritional Data based on 100g of shelled walnut kernels
Calories – 315kcal
Protein – 24.01
Fats – 17.39
Fiber – 5.99
Vitamins: – C, E, B6, B7, thiamin, folate
Minerals: – Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Sodium
Fatty Acids – Omega 3 & 6
How to Cook/Eat African Walnuts
Reduces the risk of stroke
Researchers have identified biochemicals, including n–3 (ω-3) fatty acids, tocopherols, and β-sitosterol which act against excessive cholesterol that blocks blood vessels supplying oxygen and blood to the brain.
This lack of oxygen and blood in the brain is the primary cause of stroke. Hence, good and frequent eating of walnuts can prevent stroke.
In summary, there are other plethora of uses of African walnuts that have not been documented. Therefore, the research encourages us to incorporate walnuts into our routine diets as this can help out with so many helpful benefits.
- Ita, Basil & Ndukwe, Gloria. (2017). Antioxidant Activity of Coula adults Baill. Seed Extracts. European Journal of Medicinal Plants. 17. 1-7. 10.9734/EJMP/2016/30762.
- Bukola C. Adebayo-Tayo and Kola K. Ajibesin, 2008. Antimicrobial Activities of Coula edulis. Research Journal of Medicinal Plants, 2: 86-91.10.3923/rjmp.2008.86.91
- Farr OM, Tuccinardi D, Upadhyay J, Oussaada SM, Mantzoros CS. (2017). Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over fMRI study.10.1111/dom.13060 [pubmed}
- Robbins WA, Xun L, FitzGerald LZ, Esguerra S, Henning SM, Carpenter CL. (2012) Walnuts improve semen quality in men consuming a Western-style diet: randomized control dietary intervention trial. 10.1095/biolreprod.112.101634 [Pubmed]
- Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B. (2014). Role of walnuts in maintaining brain health with age.web.10.3945/Jn.113.184838
- Hardman W. E. (2014). Walnuts have the potential for cancer prevention and treatment in mice. The Journal of nutrition, 144(4 Suppl), 555S–560S. doi:10.3945/jn.113.188466