Is shea butter edible for humans?

Is shea butter edible for humans?

Is shea butter edible? This is the question many people ask simply because they know that this is a kind of vegetable oil that’s extracted from tree seeds. Indeed, can this butter be used as food?

shea butter

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Is shea butter edible?

Technically, this butter is edible without doubts because it’s a regular oil extracted from tree seeds. There are no dangerous or potentially dangerous ingredients in it and if you want, you can try it in your meals. Actually, not all types of shea butter are edible because not all of them are pure enough for eating. Below, we will give these types a little attention.

shea butter in a spoon

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In fact, the majority of shea butter produced in Africa is used for cooking and eating. The leftovers that have not been used by the people who produce it manually are normally sold to other countries. Even though the world is not really used to thinking of shea butter as a food product, many people do eat it every day.

What is shea butter?

refined shea butter

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In fact, shea butter is better known as a cosmetic product, a component of many creams, lotions, shampoos, and other beauty products. It’s also popular as a mild remedy that’s applied mostly to the skin or hair. It’s extracted from the fruits (actually, sees or nuts) of the shea tree. When cold or stored at a room temperature, the butter is solid like regular cow’s butter. On the skin or when heated up, it becomes transparent.

It’s a fact that shea butter has been used for beauty purposes for a long time. However, the question of its edibility is still quite acute for many people, especially the ones who want to try something new in eating and those who apply the butter onto the skin of their babies.

baby eating

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So, let’s try to figure out whether shea butter is really edible and when and how you can use it in food. What’s more, if you are considering the idea of using it instead of the fats you are using in your everyday meals, you need to know the type of the butter and the grade of its purity.

Which shea butter is edible?

unrefined shea butter

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To begin with, let’s give some attention to the process of extraction of butter. In Africa, the extraction of shea butter is a business opportunity for women. They collect the shea fruits, boil them to remove the pulp and get to the seeds. Then, the seeds are opened to get the kernels. This done, the kernels are fried without stopping through 24 hours and mashed with a rock.

The mashed kernels with a little water are intensively folded like dough in big bowels. Three or four women replace each other every several minutes. The dough is then washed in a lot of water; the foam that develops in this process is removed and then boiled for a long time. The top layer is collected carefully. This is shea butter.

shea butter and shea nuts

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Of course, this is raw, unprocessed and unrefined shea butter. If you buy such a product and find out that there are particles in it, it’s a normal thing. Nobody simply uses any cheesecloth to filter the particles away. You can melt the butter slightly and refine it with a piece of cheesecloth. It will make the butter edible.

Unprocessed shea butter is also of a beige, creamy color and it’s never white. The white color means that the butter was processed by chemicals and preservatives and thus, cannot be used for cooking. There are ways to refine shea butter in an industrial way. They are used when the butter is added to, for example, chocolate. Many Belgian and Swiss producers purchase shea butter in Africa to replace cocoa butter in their chocolate.

Unrefined and refined shea butter

woman and shea butter

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Unrefined shea butter that's used for both cosmetic and cooking purposes may be purchased from its primary producers in Africa. It’s simply filtered once or even never. So, you receive the butter with some particles and of an ivory to beige color. This butter also has a specific pleasant aroma of nuts.

Refined shea butter is produced by large manufacturers either through the process of machine extraction, which is less time-consuming than hand making, or through the filtering, deodorization and conservation of raw butter purchased in Africa.

There are certain recommendations regarding both these types. First of all, unrefined butter should not be given to infants because of the contamination in it. As well, if you have never eaten things like this, search for the unrefined butter grade A. It means that this butter is not refined industrially or chemically processed but cleansed as carefully as possible during hand making.

raw shea butter

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The unrefined product is good because of the vitamins and minerals that make up shea butter nutritional value. Many people claim that they use unrefined butter for many years and improve their health greatly.

On the other hand, if you are going to use the butter externally on a baby or a young child and fear that the baby will swallow a little, choose refined sorts. They contain no contaminations and thus are safer for babies. For internal usage, you can take unrefined grade A butter and add it to the food that’s thermally processed to protect the health of your child.

The place of shea butter in cooking

shea butter bowl

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Apart from very specific recipes, shea butter can be used in any food and in any cooking type. You can boil it or use for deep-frying just like any other animal or vegetable fats that are used in the kitchen. Besides this, you can even use it like the regular cow’s butter and spread it over bread to create vegan sandwiches or so. The usage of shea butter in the kitchen is not limited with anything.

Some specific African recipes involve the consumption of shea butter during certain illnesses. For instance, if a person suffers from strong cough or just has caught cold, shea butter is believed to be a good treatment. some Africans drink special tea with this butter. It involves regular tea with ginger, lemon, honey and a couple of teaspoons of shea butter. It’s said to boost the immune system strongly.

women sell shea butter

Image source: natural.ca

If you are still not sure about this butter, give it a try. Choose the product that’s natural, unprocessed and cleaned well and try some baking or frying in this butter. You will feel the difference at once but it’s only up to you to decide whether to continue eating it or not.

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Source: Legit.ng

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