Gabon nuts are tropical fruits grown on Gabon tree, scientifically known as Coula edulis which belongs to the Olacaceae plant family. These nuts are found natively in the tropical regions of western Africa. Gabon nuts have good nutritional value and a lot of health benefits. They are much similar to walnuts in shape and size but are not related. Because of the similar physical characteristics they share with walnuts, Gabon nuts are also sometimes called African walnuts or Black Walnuts owing to their dark color.
Gabon nuts are much rare then other nut species. They have thick shells which makes germination difficult and as such these nuts are not so commonly found outside their native habitat.
They are usually found in the tropical rainforests of Western Africa, typically in Gabon, Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Each nut is about 3-4 cm in length and 0.5-0.6 cm in width. Gabon nuts have a taste similar to chestnuts and hazelnuts.
The nuts grow on the trees from August to January. During this period the nuts are plucked off for consumption by humans and animals like chimpanzees.
Gabon nuts are either eaten raw, cooked or boiled. Though it’s better to not boil them as they lose some nutritional and health value when boiled. Cooking them or eating them raw is more healthy.
They are also used as a flavoring especially in desserts and meat dishes. The nuts are also sometimes ground into flour.
Gabon nuts are also very rich in oil which is extracted and used in making cooking oil.
A Gabon nut contains 50% oil of which 87% is the fatty oleic acid. Protein content of the nut ranges between 8.96 and 21.80 percent. Raw nuts have the highest protein concentration. Boiling or cooking can result in some protein loss, hence it’s better to consume them raw to gain maximum protein energy.
These nuts have a lot of health benefits. The nuts are rich in proteins, vitamins, healthy fatty acids, anti-oxidants and fiber. Each nut has an abundance of vitamins such as Vitamins E, B1, B6, B7 ,B9.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids present in the nut can improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol, blood pressure. They also promote mental health, decrease memory loss and help in reducing liver fat.
Phytosterols and Omega-3 fatty acids present in the nuts can reduce the risk of getting cancer.
Research shows that the nuts also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation.
They also have a high fiber content which helps aid digestion.
Vitamin E present in Gabon nuts helps fight infections. Other Vitamins present like Vitamin B1 promotes healthy growth, Vitamin B6 keep the immune system strong, Vitamin B7 is important for strong hair and nerve health, Vitamin B9 helps in reducing the risk of birth defects.
Gabon nuts are also believed to increase male fertility by increasing the sperm count in males.