Fairly recently, this butter has gained huge popularity in the western world due to its widespread use in several beauty products, such as lotions, cosmetics, shampoos, and conditioners. If you are looking to find a great natural beauty product for your skin or hair, then shea butter is a wonderful choice. There's more to shea than just beauty though, we are here to tell you more about the health and nutritional benefits of shea.
What is Shea Butter?
According to Wellness Mama:
Shea butter is a skin superfood that comes from the seeds of the fruit of the Shea (Karite) tree and that is naturally rich in vitamins A, E and F. It offers UV protection (it is SPF ~6) and provides the skin with essential fatty acids and the nutrients necessary for collagen production.
Shea butter has been used in Africa and many other locations for years to improve skin and hair. It also has a long history of medicinal use, such as in wound care and even treating leprosy.
It’s also not uncommon in that part of the world to eat shea butter as well, much as we use palm oil in products. There’s differing opinions on whether or not it’s healthy to eat, and since some studies suggest that ingesting shea butter may interfere with the digestion of other proteins.
Health Benefits of Shea Butter
Shea butter is a mixture of different types of fats. Fats are made of two main components; glycerol and fatty acids.
Stay Well Now claims that:
In the case of shea butter, there are five different fatty acids; oleic acid (the same fatty acid in olive oil and sunflower oil), stearic acid (the same fatty acid in cocoa butter), linoleic acid, palmitic acid (the same fatty acid in palm oil) and arachidic acid (the same fatty acid in groundnut oil and groundnut paste).
Three of the fatty acids in shea butter are saturated fatty acids, which are generally regarded as less nutritious. However, recent studies have shown that the predominant saturated fatty acid in shea butter, stearic acid (which makes up about 40% of shea butter), is linked with a reduced risk of heart diseases, hence, shea butter is a healthier replacement for margarine. This is because margarine contains trans-fatty acids which are linked with heart diseases.
They go on to say that, ''shea butter also contains lupeol, a chemical that lowers cholesterol and protects the heart and blood vessels against inflammations. Also, there are seven other naturally-occurring chemicals in shea butter that help reduce pain by reducing inflammations.''
Moreover, shea butter is a good source of phenols which are strong antioxidants that prevent cancers and heart diseases.
Furthermore, shea butter is a great source of vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin A which both protect the skin and help to promote good eyesight.
Not only is shea good for the skin, hair and nails but it offers excellent health benefits. It's a rich source of vitamins and contains disease fighting antioxidants. The ways in which shea butter promotes heart health mean it's also a great ingredient to cook with. We love a multi-tasking product!