7 Unrivalled Advantages of African Shea Butter

Africans have used Shea Butter as a luxurious butter for centuries. The outer shells of the nuts are removed, after which the nuts are crushed, boiled and roasted into butter. The butter is then kneaded by hand in a bowl of water to separate light or ivory-coloured fat which cools and hardens to form the actual shea butter.

Shea Butter is highly rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. It contains Oleic Acid, Cinnamic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Allantoin, Vitamins E, A and F among others. Its constituents combined with its buttery easy-to-spread consistency makes it perfect for use on the skin and hair.

Here are 7 unrivalled advantages of African Shea Butter.

It is an excellent moisturizer

Shea Butter is majorly used for its moisturizing properties. Its high-fat content is what makes it such an excellent moisturizer, especially for dry skin. It blends easily into the skin and creates a barrier between it and the environment which serves to lock in moisture and maintain its hydrated state for a long period.

This especially beneficial for tough areas of the body that easily become dry, cracked, or scaly such as the knuckles, elbows, knees and feet. It provides the moisture they need while softening them and keeping them supple. Shea Butter is also an excellent lip moisturizer.

It fades and improves the appearance of stretch marks

Stretch marks are formed when the skin stretches beyond its elastic limit. This could occur during rapid weight/loss, puberty or pregnancy. Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, as well as plant sterols. These help to prevent the destruction of collagen fibres in the skin while boosting the production of more collagen. It also has vitamin F which is important in maintaining the skin’s elasticity. The combination of these actions helps fade stretch marks and makes the skin plumper.

It also lightens dark or green-coloured stretch marks so they match the appearance of the skin around them which reduces their visibility.

It has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties

Shea butter has Oleic acid (omega 9), Linoleic Acid( omega 6), and cinnamic acid which all have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, Shea butter is highly beneficial in providing relief from skin inflammations such as dermatitis, eczema and rosacea.

A recently published study proved that shea butter could be just as effective in treating eczema as other medicated balms. Shea butter also has anti-ageing properties.

Asides the youthful glow it gives the skin by boosting collagen production, the vitamins A and E and polyphenols present in this butter act as antioxidants in fighting free radicals that damage the skin. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles thus improving the youthfulness of the skin.

benefits of African shea butter

It soothes the skin from various irritations

Shea Butter has skin-soothing properties. The fatty acids and cinnamic acid found in it soothe the skin by locking in moisture while the skin is healing. It has also been found to be effective in soothing sunburns, windburns and abrasions.

The absence of harsh chemicals in shea butter makes it perfect for treating skin irritations in sensitive skin including baby skin. It can be used to soothe baby eczema or diaper rash. Shaving hair with razors could also irritate the skin. Razor bumps could develop as a result of such irritation. Application of Shea butter on the irritated skin helps to soothe and heal the skin.

It repairs damaged hair and boosts hair growth

Bad weather conditions, harsh chemicals, and the sun are some of the things that are constantly waging war against our hair. If left alone, the hair becomes brittle, starts to break and falls off. Shea butter helps to repair damaged hair.

It is highly recommended in the Liquid-Oil-Cream hair moisturizing method where it acts as the cream that seals in the moisture in the hair. It provides the hair with essential nutrients that strengthens it against breakage. Also, it boosts the growth of new hair from follicles making the hair thicker, longer and shiny.

Shea butter also works to prevent damage from heat styling forming a barrier of protection between the hair and the heat tool.

It soothes joint pain and muscle ache

Shea butter has been used traditionally in West Africa to massage parts of the body that seem to ache or are in pain. Overextended muscles are easily inflamed, which leads to muscular pain.

The anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter work on the muscle to reduce any swelling that may be present as well as the pain. Joint pain also result from inflammation and Shea butter helps in the same way by soothing the inflammation.

It helps with wound healing

Due to the presence of wound healing nutrients such as Allantoin, shea butter helps facilitate the quick healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions. The numerous fatty acids shield the wound from external irritants that could stall the healing process.

7 Characteristics of a Genuine Seller of Commodities

Finding a genuine seller of commodities is not an entirely easy feat. The market is riddled with sellers who are selling a fake product, not reliable or do not actually have the products. However, with the right information, genuine sellers can easily be identified.

Here are some characteristics buyers should look out for when searching for genuine sellers of commodities.

The seller has a track record of dealing with bigger businesses

It takes a lot of expertise, persistence, and credibility to sell to big businesses. Hence, sellers that have a track record of selling to such businesses are usually more reliable and credible. These sellers are usually the real owners of their products, not fake brokers that run around with the client’s money without having the commodities they claim to have.

They are also very good at building lasting relationships with customers. Big businesses often look to form long relationships with their sellers – not just to make spot buys. They want sellers that are conversant with their products and can be called on at any time should they run into a problem. Patronizing such sellers is always a good idea.

They are registered on a marketplace that verifies local farmers and sellers

Marketplaces verify sellers on their platform as a form of protection for both sellers and buyers. It makes it difficult for fraudsters to pose as sellers on these marketplaces and defrauding buyers in the process.

To get verified on a marketplace, sellers are required to submit personal information like email address, house and business addresses, unexpired ID card, and passport. Official company details, financial information, and tax numbers are also often requested for. All these requirements serve to ensure that the seller is genuine so buyers can be assured that they are in good hands.

Recognized by the country’s export council

Export councils register sellers who are genuinely interested in exporting their commodities out of the country. They are regulatory bodies that promote and regulate export trade as well as implement export polices.

They also provide professional assistance to exporters. Such areas include export procedures, documentation, financing, quality control, export packaging, costing, pricing, and so on. When a seller is registered under the country’s export council, their goods are subject to proper inspection by specific agencies.

These goods will not be shipped unless they meet the required standard of quality, have complete documentation and meet the buyers’ expectation. Hence, the buyer is protected from counterfeit commodities or other fraudulent activities.

Has an export license

Export licenses are documents issued by the appropriate licensing agency which grants sellers permission to export their commodities out of a country without any hassle. The license is only issued after a careful review of the export transaction and all prerequisites have been met. Commodities shipped without an export license are seized at the customs which serves as a loss to the buyer.

Registered under a trade body in their country

Trade bodies are non-profit organizations formed by businesses in the same industry. They are formed to protect the interest of their members, promote trade laws, and be the voice of the industry against unfair legislation.

Trade bodies prescribe the code of ethics for their industry in order to discourage unethical behaviour. They also an avenue for like-minded individuals to network, share ideas and make connections that would be impossible without the association. An important thing they offer is certifications and licenses. These provide a sense of reliability in the minds of customers. It assures them that they are dealing with a genuine seller.

Communicates clearly and is consistent

A seller that lacks proper communication skills is not one that any buyer will want to do business with. Effective communication builds trust and emotional connection between the seller and the buyer. The buyer can comfortably discuss their needs with the seller and the seller can effectively alleviate their concerns and make them feel valued. Consistency is also a very important characteristic. A consistent seller is one that continuously delivers genuine commodities, knows what’s going on in the market and is always looking for ways to improve. A buyer is sure can rely on such seller.

Understands the product

Genuine sellers understand their products. They know everything there is to know about them. They know the features, functions, several applications, advantages and disadvantages, lifecycle, among others.

The seller is thus able to present the benefits of the commodity accurately to the buyer in terms that make sense. Sellers that have a proper understanding of their products. And it shows how invested they are in the products and how passionate they are about it.

Top 5 Places to Buy Genuine Commodities

Commodities are economic goods, usually unprocessed that are used as raw materials in the production of other goods and services, or resold. They are grouped into agricultural goods (e.g grains, sugar), livestock and meat, metals (e.g gold, iron ore), and energy (e.g crude oil).

Ordering for commodities like Shea butter, dry ginger and others for your business should be easy but there are often trust issues that can get in the way. To meet your demand, timing, cost and trustworthiness often come into play. However, finding genuine sellers of commodities is the first critically important step before even timing and cost.

Here is a list of the top 5 places to find these genuine sellers:

Physical trade events

Trade events are exhibitions where businesses in a particular industry display and promote their products to prospective clients. The events are sometimes open to the general public while others are classified as ‘trade-only’. You’ll usually find sellers of commodities (exhibitors), company representatives, top professionals within the industry.

Attending a trade event grants you access to special pricing offers and valuable insights concerning the commodity you’re looking to purchase. The presence of different sellers of the same commodity provides a quicker means to evaluate them, compare prices and get competitive information within a short space of time. Also, face-to-face interaction with the sellers makes it easier to discuss specific features and conditions. Such discussions can build a close relationship that could be beneficial in the future.

Another advantage of trade events is the avenue they create for buyers to connect with one other. Here, they can discuss issues and together, find solutions to specific problems they encounter.

Online trade marketplaces

Over the past decades, the world has experienced an increase in transactions of economic activities online. Covid-19 had helped accelerate the need for online interactions too.

Online trade marketplaces are e-commerce platforms where buyers meet sellers. A third-party, the platform, mediates between the buyers and sellers. Some of these marketplaces serve multiple industries such as Alibaba. While others are focused on a specific industry e.g Cokodeal, which focuses on connecting African exporters and international buyers of foodstuff and commodities. The benefits they offer are innumerable. Not only can you shop for commodities of your choice from the comfort of your home, but you can also register for free and communicate with the sellers online.

You have access to a large pool of suppliers without having to physically move around expending energy. These platforms usually require the sellers to display complete information about their commodities so the buyer can make an informed decision. There are commodity descriptions, photos, specifications and price. The seller can also specify if the stated price is negotiable or not. They also help verify the suppliers to ensure the safety of the platform.

One beneficial feature online trade marketplaces has is the availability of reviews. Former customers of a seller often leave reviews on the site. So any prospective buyer can read through and determine if the seller sells genuine commodities, is trustworthy, and has good customer service.

Online forums

Online forums such as Nairaland and Quora bring different people together to share their views on different issues.

There are subforums where people can discuss business issues, too. Sellers often take advantage of the online traffic on these sites to advertise their commodities. The online forums serve as a platform for buyers to openly discuss the price and features of the commodities with the sellers without making any commitment.

The only disadvantage is the fact that sellers are unverified and not moderated. But, buyers can some times research a seller by asking other buyers on the platform about them before buying their commodities.

Word of mouth

Word of mouth is a very powerful tool in business. Satisfied customers of a seller are always happy to refer new customers to the seller. Word of mouth is intensely personal as it takes a lot of trusts for people to make referrals.

Customers usually get no financial benefits in speaking well about a seller, so the believability of the recommendation is high. If a former buyer claims that a seller is genuine more often than not, it is true. This is also why reviews on online marketplaces are powerful – it’s another form of word of mouth.

Business directories

Business directories can be found online or in telephone books. Finding genuine sellers of commodities on business directories is quite easy.

The directories are listed by industry so you can quickly find sellers of whatever kind of commodities you’re looking for. The directories give the phone number, email and other important information about the seller. This helps in saving both time and money.

However, you have to already know what you want when using business directories. It’s often best to use an online marketplace or online forum and only use a business directory to cross-reference the address of the business.

How to Buy Quality Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are one of the oldest oil seeds known to man. They are gotten from the Sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) which originated in India. These seeds have been used for thousands of years as a culinary condiment due to rich nutty flavour they give to meals.

They are used in baked foods, sprinkled on bread buns, ground into soups, used in manufacturing margarine and so on. These delicate seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, dietary fibre, omega-6, amino acids like tryptophan and fat-burning polyphenols like sesamin and sesamol., vitamins B and E, and minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. All these contribute to the numerous health benefits they pack.

Some Features of Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds have been shown to lower cholesterol level, boost digestion and hair growth, prevent cancer, manage diabetes, improve oral health, and many more.
Sesame seeds come in various forms – white, brown, or black.

The black ones are hulled and have a richer flavour than white or brown ones. They are more bitter and have a crispier crunch when compared to the other forms. They also contain more calcium and are usually used for medicinal purposes. The white ones are unhulled and have higher iron and carbohydrate content. They are mostly used as ingredients in foods.

Sesame oil, which is derived from the seeds, is used as a highly potent flavour enhancer in many dishes. However, it shouldn’t be used as a frying oil due to its low smoke point which means it burns even at low temperatures.

It is very important to buy quality seeds so as to get all the nutrition it can provide and also prevent all the adverse effects that come with consuming bad seeds. When picking sesame seeds, here are some tips to help to purchase the best ones.

Tips For Buying Quality Sesame Seeds

Examine the physical characteristics of the seeds

The seeds must be uniform in texture, structure and look. They should not be shrivelled, mottled from any kind of disease, moulded, or discoloured. The seeds should also be free from stones, leaves, debris, insect-damaged seeds, seeds of other plants and other impurities.

Check the packaging (either tin or sack) for any evidence of moisture.

The presence of moisture in the seeds may cause them to deteriorate quickly due to microbial growth and heating. Moisture also lowers the storage life of the seeds as it has been proven that for each rise of one per cent in moisture content, the storage life of the seeds is halved.

Since sesame seeds have a very high oil content, they can become rancid surprisingly fast. Rancidity is the complete or incomplete oxidation of oils when exposed to light, air, moisture, or bacteria causing an unpleasant odour (and sometimes taste) in the oil. In order to avoid purchasing rancid seeds, smell them properly before buying to ensure that they smell fresh. Note that hulled seeds are more prone to rancidity.

High quality sesame seeds are usually fleshier than the low quality ones. Always make sure the seeds are properly dried but not completely flat.

Check the colour of the seeds

The colour of black sesame seeds could vary from dark brown to mildly black to jet black. The jet black ones are the purest and have the highest quality so be sure to check for the colour.

Sesame seeds should be stored in an airtight container or sack, then placed in a cool, dark, and dry place. Improper storage could lead to contamination of the seeds and invasion of pests. If the seeds are not stored properly, it is advisable not to buy. It will not hurt to check out the storage facility of whatever company you wish you purchase from so you’ll be sure they store their seeds well.

Always try to buy seeds that have not been stored for too long to ensure maximal freshness. Buy from companies that have a high turnover rate so you’re certain the seeds are not stale.

How Restaurants use Sesame Seeds to Nourish their Foods

Originating from Asia, sesame seeds have become one of the most popular culinary condiments in the world. These seeds are known for the rich nutty flavour they lend to meals; so, it is no surprise that many restaurants across the globe have incorporated them into their dishes.

Asides the flavour, sesame seeds are also used in cooking for the many health benefits they carry. They are rich in phytonutrients, vitamins (B and C), phosphorus, selenium, poly unsaturated fatty acids, omega-6, calcium, iron, and dietary fibres. They have been shown to help reduce blood pressure, fight diabetes, lower cholesterol level, aid digestion, prevent cancer, boost hair growth and so much more.

Food companies have devised many ways to nourish their foods with these seeds. From sprinkling them on bread buns, to baking them in foods, and drizzling sesame oil on icecream, sesame seeds are now a staple ingredient in the kitchen of many food companies.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s, the 2nd largest fast-food chain in the world, purchases about 75% of Mexico’s sesame crop for use in their sesame seed buns worldwide. The white sesame seeds, especially known to be slightly sweet and have the aroma of lightly caramelized milk, roasted peanuts, and honey are sprinkled on the otherwise plain white bun.

They add a little bit of flavour, texture, and are visually pleasing. McDonald’s also uses the seeds to give their buns a distinctive look and mouthfeel that customers will usually not find anywhere else.

Tahini’s

Another company that makes use of these seeds is the Canada-based Middle Eastern restaurant, Tahini’s. The name of the restaurant itself is gotten from a paste made from sesame seeds, Tahini.

Tahini is made by toasting the hulled seeds for about 2 to 3 minutes, grinding them, and them combining the ground powder with a neutral oil to form a smooth paste. This paste is rich in flavour, vegan, and gluten-free. Tahini’s uses tahini as the sauce in their mouthwatering shawarmas. The restaurant also uses it in their famous hummus which is made by blending cooked, mashed chickpeas with the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. The hummus is then served with garlic & cabbage sauces, as well as fresh-cut tomatoes with some warm soft pita bread and meat for the restaurant’s special.

Zingerman’s Bake house

Zingerman’s Bake house, a bakery under the Zingerman’s company uses sesame seeds in their baking. The seeds and tahini are baked into their cookies and croissants to give a nuttier flavour to the snacks. Also, because seeds are used and not nuts to get the flavour, it reduces the number of people that will suffer allergic reactions from it.

Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant

Sesame seeds are also used as a garnish in Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant in Sylvania. The seeds are roasted to intensity the Nutty flavour. They are also ground into a smooth powder that could be sprinkled on rice, or on sushi pieces.

Other Foods that use Sesame

Ice Cream

In Japan, ice cream topped with sesame seeds has been gaining a lot of popularity in the country. Both the white and black seeds are used to deliver the rich flavour associated with sesame.

Sometimes, sesame oil is drizzled on the ice cream to give a deeper and more wholesome taste. Sesame crackers are made by glazing the cracker dough in soy sauce, adding sesame seeds, then baking them in the oven. These crackers are delicious and are a healthy alternative to chips.

Goma-ae

Goma-ae is a popular Japanese side dish served in Japanese restaurants in the west. Made with spinach, green beans and sesame seeds, Goma-ae is a clever way to eat vegetables with the seeds. The vegetables are cooked, and then mixed with sesame sake sauce or miso paste and some sesame seeds are sprinkled on top.

Sesame chicken

Chinese restaurants in the United States serve a dish known as Sesame chicken. As the name implies, the seeds are used in the preparation of the dish. The dish is made from chicken thigh pieces that have been de-boned and Chinese deep-fried. The fried chicken pieces are stirred in a semi-thick, reddish-brown, sweet sauce. The sauce is made from corn starch, vinegar, wine, chicken broth, sesame oil and sugar.

The dish is topped with small sesame seeds and sometimes served with vegetables such as spring onions and broccoli.

General Tso’s chicken

Another dish you will find in North American Chinese restaurants is the General Tso’s chicken. This dish is quite similar to the Sesame chicken. But it is spicier and less sweet due to the absence of brown sugar.

It is prepared by deep-frying battered chicken thighs until they are golden brown. Then tossing the fried piece in a sauce made with soy sauce, garlic, red chilli flakes and hoisin sauce. The final touch involves sprinkling a generous amount of sesame seeds and green onions before the dish is served.

Sesame oil is used in a good number of recipes in food companies worldwide. It is majorly drizzled on salads and not used to fry due to its low smoke point.