Shea butter added to a Lipid Nutrient Supplement (LNS) for treatment of moderate to severe acute malnutrition was found to improve the firmness/texture of the LNS, while increasing the essential fatty acid content and maintaining storage stability.
Shea butter is obtained from the shea nut, a seed of the fruit from the karite tree. The karite tree is indigenous to the African Savannah region, a tropical grassland that covers up to 27 countries (Chawla et al., 2011). Shea butter use in the cosmetic and food industry is based on its non-saponifiable lipid content (5-15%); which is a rich source of the natural antioxidant vitamin E (Segman et al., 2012). The micronutrient content of shea butter includes vitamin A and E, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Shea butter also contains essential fatty acids including oleic acid and linoleic acid. Upon analysis, shea butter was shown to contain no heavy metals or microbial contaminations. Yellow shea butter (as opposed to beige) was observed to have a higher viscosity than the mean value of most vegetable oils (Megnanou and Niamke, 2015). Owing to this nutrient composition, shea butter may contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, products made from shea butter may vary considerably in their biochemical profile (Honfo et al., 2014).
In a study by Sloffer et al. (2017), shea butter was added to a Lipid Nutrient Supplement (LNS) used for treatment of moderate to severe acute malnutrition. It was found that shea butter improved the firmness/texture of the LNS, while increasing the essential fatty acid content and maintaining storage stability.
Generally, shea butter is manually produced by boiling, drying, crushing and roasting the shea nut to form a paste; which is then purified, heated and mixed with water. The fat that rises to the surface of the water is what hardens and forms the butter (Honfo et al. 2014; Chawla et al., 2011). It may be possible to produce shea oil by regulating the temperature between warming of the solid butter and cooling of the melted butter. Extremely stable whipped oils of high foamability can then be produced by aerating the crystal dispersions. Although the majority of literature highlights the use of this procedure in coconut oil, the same can be applied to shea butter; as each fat has an optimum temperature in which foaming occurs, where the solid fat content reaches close to 30% (Binks and Marinopoulos, 2017).
Despite this, heating shea butter may prove problematic, as oxidation of the unsaturated fatty acids may occur; leading to an accumulation of peroxide compounds (free radicals). Also, some micronutrients such as vitamins A and E and beta-carotene may be destroyed during the heating process (Megnanou and Niamke, 2015).
- Binks, B.P., Marinopoulos, I., 2017. Ultra-stable self-foaming oils. Food Res. Int. Ott. Ont 95, 28–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2017.02.020
- Chawla, K.K., Bencharitiwong, R., Ayuso, R., Grishina, G., Nowak-Węgrzyn, A., 2011. Shea butter contains no IgE-binding soluble proteins. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 127, 680–682. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.022
- Honfo, F.G., Akissoe, N., Linnemann, A.R., Soumanou, M., Van Boekel, M.A.J.S., 2014. Nutritional composition of shea products and chemical properties of shea butter: a review. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 54, 673–686. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2011.604142
- Megnanou, R.-M., Niamke, S., 2015. Improving the optimized shea butter quality: a great potential of utilization for common consumers and industrials. SpringerPlus 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-015-1454-0
- Segman, O., Wiesman, Z., Yarmolinsky, L., 2012. 17 – Methods and Technologies Related to Shea Butter Chemophysical Properties and to the Delivery of Bioactives in Chocolate and Related Products, in: Cocoa Butter and Related Compounds. AOCS Press, pp. 417–441. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-9830791-2-5.50020-7
- Sloffer, E.M., et, 2017. Development and Physico-Chemical Characterization of a Shea Butter-Containing Lipid Nutrition Supplement for Sub-Saharan Africa. – PubMed – NCBI [WWW Document]. URL https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29117103 (accessed 11.29.17).