Mongongo fruit, distributed widely in South Africa is an egg-shaped fruit produced by the mongongo tree (Schinziophyton rautanenii). The Bushmen of the Kalahari call it the Mongong or Manketti. The fruit consists of a thick, hard pitted shell that encloses the edible flesh. Inside the flesh, you can find a nut that is extremely nutritious. The oil extracted from these nuts has been found to be highly beneficial for the skin and hair. Mongongo oil has high content of linoleic acid that offers regenerating, hydrating and restructuring effects to the skin. It also contains eleostearic acid that offers protection from ultraviolet rays and environmental pollutants.
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Nutritional value of mongongo
The creamy yellow meat of the nut is oily and nutritious. It can be enjoyed raw, although it tastes more delicious when roasted. Native people roast the nut meat with sand and hot ashes from the fire, after which they taste like roasted cashew nuts. Mongongo has an amazing nutritional profile. The kernel of the nut contains 57% fat. Of this, about 17% are saturated fats (palmitic acid and stearic acid), about 18% are monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) and about 43% are polyunsaturated fats (linoleic acid). By consuming 100 mongongo nuts, it is possible to meet 71% of the daily energy requirement of an adult man.
The kernel is also rich in protein (26 grams of protein per 100 grams). This is almost similar to the protein content of peanuts and other legumes. The kernel is also a rich source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Mongongo contains a good amount of vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, and a high amount of vitamin E in the form of y-tocopherol. The very high y-tocopherol content in mongongo oil makes it very stable and prevents it from becoming rancid for a very long time.
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Mongongo oil for the skin
Mongongo oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of the mongongo tree. This yellow colored oil contains high levels of linoleic acid, eleostearic acids and vitamin E or tocopherol, which makes it very beneficial oil for the protection of your skin. Mongongo oil is found to be very effective in moisturizing the skin as well as in regenerating and restructuring the outer layer or epidermis of the skin. The eleostearic acid found in this oil reacts with the ultraviolet rays of the sun and produces polymerization, which provides a protective layer on the skin. The high levels of vitamin E in mongongo oil provide excellent stability to the oil thus preventing it from becoming rancid. It works well for damaged skin – cracked heels and chapped lips. It finds its use in cosmetics like lip balm or lip conditioner due to its linoleic acid content.
Did you know? It is believed by Bushman of Africa that elephants and mongongo trees hold a closer relationship. While elephants relishes mongongo, seeds of a mongongo cannot germinate until they are digested for a week in elephant digestive tract.
Hair benefits of mongongo oil
There are several natural methods that help keep the hair healthy and beautiful, and mongongo oil is one of the most effective ones. It has been found that this oil helps the hair grow beautiful and stronger. The high vitamin E content in mongongo oil ensures the growth and maintenance of healthy hair. The application of mongongo oil on your hair offers protection against any kind of damages caused by the sun as well as various chemicals applied to the hair. It also keeps the hair safe from the heat due to the use of hair dryers, hot irons, etc.
Mongongo oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids that form an emollient and protective layer on the surface of the hair, thereby functioning as a barrier that prevents the loss of moisture from the interior of the hair. The linoleic acid in mongongo oil helps to ensure that your hair maintains its luster and shine. It is also rich in protein and healthy fats that provide nourishment to the hair and make it look beautiful. Moreover, mongongo oil is high in hair benefiting nutrients including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid and vitamin E.
Did you know? !Kung Bushman of the Kalahari use Mongongo fruit as skin cleanser and moisturizer and to protect themselves from harsh Kalahari desert heat.
The fruit and nuts of mongongo tree are commonly consumed in different countries like Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, etc. It is also a staple food amongst the San bushmen of Namibia and Northern Botswana. Although it can be used for cooking purposes, mongongo oil is mainly used in hair and cosmetic products. Mongongo oil is gaining wide popularity all over the world because of the various health benefits it offers, especially for the skin and hair.