Conophor nut is commonly called the African Walnut. The local names are Awusa or Asala (Yoruba); Ukpa (Igbo) and Kaso (Cameroon). Instrestingly, it does not have much in common with the English walnut. The plant is actually a climbing shrub that lasts for more than two seasons in the moist forest zones of sub-Sahara Africa. The plant has been used traditionally for fertility treatment and treatment of dysentery and abdominal pains. There is evidence that the plant especially the leaves have medicinal values. While the nuts contain some medicinal properties, I have not come across many research articles with information on the phytochemical composition.
There is enough evidence though that points to the good nutritive value of Conophor nut. The nut is an oil seed; Oil being its major constituent. The oil contains 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids; most of which is linolenic acid. After cooking, the oil content reduces (21%).It also contains an appreciable amount of protein (29%), carbohydrate (12.5%) and low fibre (6.3%). Apart from its high phosphorus content and an appreciable amount of calcium, the conophor nut is very low in minerals. It contains antinutrients (these are natural compounds in food that interfere with the absorption of nutrients) such as tannins and phytic acid but when boiled, the antinutrients reduce considerably. Antinutrients in the Toasted nuts are higher than the boiled nuts.
Conophor nut is mostly consumed as a boiled snack although some researchers have developed many products from it such as flour, biscuits and complementary foods for babies.
It is the season for Conophor nuts and it can add variety to your meals or give you better options for snacks instead of the regular deep fried puff-puffs and other unhealthy ‘small chops’. Apart from cracking the shells after boiling, there really is no difficulty to consuming it. You can purchase some boiled conophor nuts and re-boil before consumption or you can purchase the raw nuts and boil.