Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Have you heard about the stimulating effects of the kola nut? The kola nut is a popular stimulant in African countries, but not everyone in Germany is familiar with it. In West and Central Africa, kola nuts are chewed by locals to fill up on energy. In our big kola nut test 2021 we want to introduce you to the kola nut.

You will not only learn why the fruit of the kola tree is said to have stimulating effects, but also learn something about the preparation of the kola nut. We will provide you with all the necessary information about the kola nut and hope that we can support you with our evaluation criteria when buying a kola nut product.




The most important facts

  • The kola nut is the seed of the kola tree native to West and Central Africa. It is known for its stimulating effect and is considered to be an awakener, aphrodisiac, appetite suppressant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Kola nuts are available in air-dried form or as powder. Kola nut powder can be infused as tea or added to other beverages such as coffee, cocoa or juices.
  • The main active ingredients of the kola nut are caffeine and theobromine. Alternatives to kola nut with a stimulating effect are coffee and guarana.

The Best Kola Nut: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for kola nut products

When buying kola nut products, you can use various evaluation criteria to decide on a product. These include the following criteria:

If you consider these aspects and different product alternatives before you buy, you can save money and also make sure that you are not giving your body anything it doesn't need. Basically, always look for high quality and ask to see the manufacturer's certificates if necessary.

Caffeine content

Depending on how strong you want the stimulating effect of kola nut to be, you can pay attention to the manufacturer's specifications regarding the caffeine content. In general, kola nuts contain about 2 to 3.5 percent caffeine, depending on the variety.

The caffeine content is thus higher than in many types of coffee, but lower than in guarana. Besides caffeine, kola nut also contains theobromine, which has a similar effect to caffeine. The theobromine content is between 0.05 and 1 percent.

Dosage form

Since fresh kola nuts do not store well and have a long shelf life, they are dried for export purposes and are available here in Germany either in whole pieces or in powder form.

Kola nuts are sold as powder or in whole pieces.

The whole kola nut seeds are too hard when dried to chew them as is customary in Africa. Therefore, you should also process the kola nuts into powder before eating them. The prerequisite for this is that you have a suitable machine for grinding.

If you find it too tedious to grind the kola nuts yourself, we recommend buying the product in powder form. This will save you time, but you will also have to pay a few euros more.

If you find the taste of pure kola nuts too bitter and unpleasant, you can use other products that contain kola nut extract. There are chocolate, tea, capsules and cola drinks, among others, that contain kola nut.

Quantity

Most online shops offer whole kola nut pieces and kola nut powder in different quantity sizes. Pack sizes range from 50 grams to 1 kilogram. We recommend that you try a smaller package size first. This way you can test whether you like the taste of kola nut.

If you consume kola nuts regularly, it is worth ordering larger quantities.

Usually you get a quantity discount when you buy a larger package, so the price per 100 grams is lower than with smaller packages.

Organic quality

Nowadays, it is important to many consumers that the food they buy is organically grown.

In the case of kola nut, there are hardly any products available on the world market that meet all the necessary legal criteria for an organic label.

If you attach a lot of importance to organic quality, the general question is whether you want to consume kola nuts. There are many producers who are working on a solution to be able to produce their kola nut products on the basis of controlled organic cultivation in the future.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying kola nut products

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of kola nut and to answer frequently asked questions in connection with the African fruit, we have summarised all important information in the following sections.

What is kola nut and how does it work?

The kola nut is the seed fruit of the kola tree, which is native to West and Central Africa. The kola nut has a high cultural significance among the West African population. It is especially known for its stimulating effect. (1)

kolanuss-test

The kola nut has been a popular stimulant in African culture for centuries. (Image source: Pixabay/ Manojiit Tamen)

Kola trees, which belong to the subfamily of the stink tree family (Sterculioideae), grow in the tropical rainforests of Africa and grow up to 20 metres high. They bear fruit all year round. Around ten seeds ripen in a closed fruit. The seeds of the kola tree are called kola nuts. There are over 100 species of the kola tree.

The two most popular genera used for consumption are the species Cola nitida and Cola acuminata. Locals chew the fresh nuts after removing them from their shells and cutting them into smaller pieces. Kola nuts exported from Africa are previously air-dried or ground and sold as powder.

The main active ingredients of the kola nut are caffeine and theobromine.

Due to these ingredients, the kola nut has a positively invigorating, stimulating effect. It can also stimulate the metabolism. (1) In the past, the kola nut extract was used by Coca-Cola as an ingredient, but nowadays only artificial flavourings are used. However, other cola drinks such as Fritz-Kola still contain kola nut extract.

Wake-up effect and increase in concentration

The kola nut is consumed as a stimulant that can give you energy, improve your alertness, and provide a general positive mood. Kola nut consumption increases your concentration and performance. (1, 2)

So it has a similar, often even stronger effect than consuming coffee. This is due to the higher caffeine content and the additional ingredient theobromine.

Effect as an aphrodisiac

Due to its stimulating effect, kola nut can also be used as an aphrodisiac and increase libido. The aphrodisiac effect has often been described by locals and summarised in scientific reviews. (1, 2)

Appetite suppressant effect

In addition, kola nut can lead to a suppression of appetite and hunger and can thus be consumed as a support for a diet. Studies on mice have shown that the consumption of kola nut food led to a decrease in food intake and body weight. (3, 4)

What side effects can occur with kola nut consumption?

In case of an overdose with kola nut, side effects can occur similar to those of excessive coffee consumption. The side effects can then manifest themselves in the form of nervousness, palpitations, shaky hands or other similar side effects.

Side effects such as nervousness or palpitations may occur.

Since the caffeine in kola nut is bound differently than in coffee and the effect is therefore slow and long-lasting instead of quick and short-lived, side effects are more conditional than with coffee. In principle, the consumption of kola nut is classified as safe and toxicologically harmless, so that side effects are rather unlikely with moderate consumption. (5)

If you suffer from coffee intolerance, you may not tolerate kola nut well either. However, this does not have to be the case, as the way caffeine works is different. A caffeine allergy is also possible. If you experience extreme symptoms, you can have this checked out by a doctor.

When and for whom is it useful to take kola nut?

Taking kola nut can be useful for you if you are looking for a natural stimulant that gives you physical energy, fights fatigue and improves your alertness. You can consume kola nut on a daily basis as an alternative to coffee, for example in the morning to start the day full of power.

It can also be helpful to take kola nut in particularly stressful situations where physical or mental performance and concentration are required. If you want to lose weight, you can try out whether kola nut has an appetite-suppressing effect on you. If you have a loss of libido, kola nut can help lift your mood and sexual desire.

What does kola nut taste like?

Kola nut has a slightly bitter and earthy taste, somewhat reminiscent of cocoa. Because of the bitter taste, kola nut consumption is often perceived as unpleasant. You can brew kola nut powder as a tea or mix it with other drinks. Kola nut can be consumed in combination with coffee, milk, milkshakes, smoothies, fruit juices or lemonade.

The taste of kola nut goes best with cocoa. A combination with guarana is also recommended.

The taste may take some getting used to, but at the same time you are trying something new and exotic.

How much do kola nut products cost?

In principle, the cost of a kola nut product depends on the amount of product purchased. To be able to compare different products, you should always convert the costs to the price per 100 grams or the price per kilogram.

The price per 100 grams for pure kola nuts in pieces or powder form is between 2 and 7 euros.

With some traders, the kola nut powder costs a little more than the variant in whole kola nut pieces, as the product is already delivered ready to eat. However, the difference in price is not significant.

Dosage form Price
Kola nut pieces 2 to 7 € per 100 gram
Kola nut powder 3 to 7 € per 100 gram

In addition, if you consume kola nut regularly, it is worth buying a larger quantity of the product, because the price per 100 grams decreases with increasing quantity due to the quantity discount.

What types of kola nut products are there?

As already explained in the section on buying and evaluation criteria, kola nut comes in different dosage forms. The two main types of natural kola nut product are:

  • Kola nut seeds (whole pieces)
  • Kola nut powder (ground)

In what way the two types differ from each other and what advantages and disadvantages the two dosage forms bring with them, we will briefly summarise below.

Kola nut seeds

The kola nut in whole pieces is the original product, as it is consumed and chewed in West and Central Africa. However, for storage and export, the seeds are dried. This does not make kola nuts impossible to chew, but it does make them difficult. This is because they are very hard when dried. When buying dried kola nut seeds, they have to be crushed and ground before they can be eaten. This represents an additional effort in the preparation.

Advantages
  • More active substances contained
  • Somewhat cheaper in price
Disadvantages
  • Too hard to chew
  • More time-consuming preparation

On the other hand, whole kola nuts contain even more active ingredients than the exported kola nut powder. This means that the stimulating effect is stronger.

Kola nut powder

In the case of kola nut powder, the dried kola nut seeds are already ground into powder before export. This means that the product is already ready for consumption and only needs to be dissolved in water or other drinks. The preparation is therefore very uncomplicated. The lower preparation effort is usually offset by a somewhat more expensive price. In addition, the invigorating effect may be somewhat less than with whole kola nut seeds.

Advantages
  • Little effort in preparation
  • product already ready to eat
Disadvantages
  • Slightly more expensive
  • contains slightly fewer active ingredients

Which type of kola nut product seems more suitable for you is ultimately a personal preference. Both forms of administration have advantages and disadvantages.

How should kola nut be prepared and dosed?

If you have bought kola nut pieces, you must first grind them in a mill or grind them with a mortar. The powder should be as fine as possible. To prepare the kola nut powder, stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of the powder into about 250 ml of hot water and let the tea infusion steep briefly. Since the powder does not dissolve completely in the water, you can strain out the remains with a sieve if necessary.

Tip: The mixture of kola nut, water, lemon juice and sugar is reminiscent of cola.

Alternatively, you can add the kola nut powder to other drinks, such as coffee, lemonade, juice or milk. It can also be added to your breakfast cereal or porridge. Recommended: The combination of kola nut powder with guarana, cinnamon and cocoa is a popular variant.

What alternatives are there to kola nut?

Besides kola nut, there are other alternatives that provide energy and have a stimulating effect.

Alternative Differences from kola nut
Coffee Has a lower caffeine content than kola nut and does not contain theobromine. Provides a short-term energy boost, but the effect wears off more quickly.
Guarana Has a higher caffeine content than cola nut, but a lower proportion of theobromine. Just as lasting and long-lasting effect as kola nut. The taste is more pleasant.

Coffee is probably the best-known stimulant. However, the amount of caffeine in coffee beans is somewhat lower than in kola nuts and they do not contain theobromine. Moreover, the caffeine in coffee beans works in a different way. Coffee beans are not only dried, but also roasted, which causes the caffeine to break away from its natural bond with the tannins during heating.

As a result, the caffeine has a faster but at the same time shorter effect. The caffeine of the kola nut, on the other hand, is bound to the tannins and is absorbed more slowly, so it has a longer-lasting effect. The natural binding makes the caffeine better tolerated.

kolanuss-test

Just like the kola nut, the coffee bean also has a high caffeine content. (Image source: Pixabay/ Kai Reschke)

With guarana, the caffeine also remains naturally bound, so it is released more slowly and has a long-lasting effect. The caffeine content of guarana is even higher than that of kola nut. Theobromine is contained in very small amounts. In contrast to kola nut, the taste of guarana is often perceived as more pleasant. That is why kola nut can be combined very well with guarana in drinks.

Image source: 123rf / 36434194

References (5)

1. Adebayo S.A. and Oladele O.I. Medicinal Values of Kolanut in Nigeria: Implication for Extension Service Delivery. Life Science Journal. 2012; 9(2): 887-891.
Source

2. Dawn Starin. Kola nut: so much more than just a nut. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2013 Dec; 106(12): 510–512.
Source

3. E.B. Umoren, E.E. Osim, P.B. Udoh. The comparative effects of chronic consumption of kola nut (Cola nitida) and caffeine diets on locomotor behaviour and body weights in mice. Nigerian Journal of Physiological Science. 2009 Jun; 24(1): 73-8.
Source

4. H.M. Salahdeen, A.O. Omoaghe, G.O. Isehunwa, B.A. Murtala, A.R.A. Alada. Effects of chronic administration of ethanolic extract of kolanut (Cola nitida) and caffeine on vascular function. African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. 2014 Mar; 43(1): 17-27.
Source

5. George A. Burdock, Ioana G. Carabin, Christine M. Crincoli. Safety assessment of kola nut extract as a food ingredient. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2009 Aug; 47(8):1725-32.
Source

Why you can trust us?

Wissenschaftlicher Review
Adebayo S.A. and Oladele O.I. Medicinal Values of Kolanut in Nigeria: Implication for Extension Service Delivery. Life Science Journal. 2012; 9(2): 887-891.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Dawn Starin. Kola nut: so much more than just a nut. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2013 Dec; 106(12): 510–512.
Go to source
Vergleichende Studie
E.B. Umoren, E.E. Osim, P.B. Udoh. The comparative effects of chronic consumption of kola nut (Cola nitida) and caffeine diets on locomotor behaviour and body weights in mice. Nigerian Journal of Physiological Science. 2009 Jun; 24(1): 73-8.
Go to source
Vergleichende Studie
H.M. Salahdeen, A.O. Omoaghe, G.O. Isehunwa, B.A. Murtala, A.R.A. Alada. Effects of chronic administration of ethanolic extract of kolanut (Cola nitida) and caffeine on vascular function. African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. 2014 Mar; 43(1): 17-27.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
George A. Burdock, Ioana G. Carabin, Christine M. Crincoli. Safety assessment of kola nut extract as a food ingredient. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2009 Aug; 47(8):1725-32.
Go to source
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