Introducing shea butter

Learn about the many and varied uses of shea butter.

Shea butter is one of my favorite items because of it’s versatility. It can not only be used as a lip balm but also helps to keep my skin supple and well moisturized during these frigidly cold Michigan winter months. Shea butter can be found in many common household items in the U.S. from cosmetics to food and it is relatively inexpensive. 

A traditional African use for shea butter is to use it to prepare fried foods. Shea butter can be used as a healthy vegan substitute in recipes that call for butter, margarine or lard. It is also used as an additive in the production of chocolates and pastries around the world.

It has been used as a moisturizer for the skin, as a hair product and in medicinal ways. Shea butter is rich in Vitamins A, D, E and F. Raw, unrefined shea butter is also used in various creams, soaps, lotions and hair care items due to its high saponifiable contents.

Historically, women are the only producers of shea butter in Africa. African women would make the shea butter by hand using traditional methods. Shea butter is made with the nut that is inside the fruit, which grows on the karite tree (Vitellaria). The trees grow in the dry savannah areas of Benin, Guinea, Togo and Uganda, however about 20 countries in all produce shea butter.

Shea butter is considered a nut oil and items that contain it are required to list this on the product’s label.

Some research is being done to test its effects on the treatment of osteoarthritis. 

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