The Wonders of African Black Olives ‘Atili’ (2)


Continued from last week…    

The usefulness of Atili is compared to that of the Moringa and Palm fruit because all parts of the fruit is useful and easily harnessed into a positive bi-product.  Atili fruit has gone through a lot of recognition over the years and surely, there will be more discoveries on its usefulness.

When I ask a lot of questions about the wonders of this Atili I was told that it’s a plant-based diet which protects against the development of some serious diseases. In case you don’t know, aside its consumption, atili oil is an important delicacy of the Plateau. The oil is medicinal as it is used to cure ailments such as whooping cough, ulcer and also treating of rashes. Atili is known for its numerous benefits. It can be used as sauce, to bake cake, for soap and cream, massage, juice, its oil for scalp and hair treatment etc.

Prof. Sunday Atawodi of the Faculty of Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, has said consumption of African olive oil, atili would reduce the risks of cancer infections, and protect cell membranes against diseases. Atili fruits help to improve sight vision, enhances the digestive system and promotes the cardiovascular system as well. Its rich in vitamin E, iron and the atili oil are also useful for skin and hair care.

Atili helps in blood pressure control, acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells and the body against anemia and eating it regularly can improve the appearance of wrinkles by 20%. They contain oleic acid, which keeps the skin soft and healthy, helps to eliminates excessive cholesterol in the blood and more.

Atili fruits are rich in crude fat and tannins and are about 35mm long; the pulp oil is about 71 % palmitic acid and 18 % oleic acid. The fruits contain appreciable levels of fiber, protein and ash and its health benefits are numerous. Study revealed that the fruits contain appreciable levels of phosphorus and sodium too. Its extract is used in treatment of skin infection, intestinal worm, drug production and many other bi-products. Atili is beneficial to virtually all the internal organs and the external parts of the human body. The importance of this special fruit and its derivatives can be practically seen in its common usage among most African regions.

No thought atili has multiple uses, many of which cannot be overemphasized yet not much is known about it. Atili tree is large, evergreen forest tree with its crown reaching to the upper canopy of the forest, with a long clean, straight and cylindrical bole exceeding 50 meters. Diameter above the heavy root swellings can be up to 4.5 m. The tree is a major source of elemi, an oleoresin that is used in food, medicinally, and has a range of industrial applications; although not usually cultivated, the tree is usually protected by local people. The tree’s symmetrical branching makes it an attractive avenue and shade tree. A tree of the hot tropical rainforests, growing at elevations from sea level to 1,000 meters and grows best in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 900 – 1,400mm.

What part of this Atili is not full of wonder?

Drug production: Due to its fatty acid content, atili is useful as an extract for the production of certain drugs. In the past, the resin was exported to Europe for pharmaceutical use.

As food: The slightly greenish outer pulp of the atili fruit is oily and edible, can be eaten raw but preferably softened in warm water to improve palatability. It tastes similar to olives and is very popular as a snack among adults and children. Often used as a condiment. It is used in frying food as it has been found to be more nutritious and flavourful than ordinary cooking oil. It can be sprinkled on food like cooked rice and roasted fish or chicken before consumption.

The strong brownedible seeds are harvested from the wild for local use – they are often sold in local markets. The seed-kernel is oily and edible. It is cooked, and is sometimes prepared into a vegetable-butter and eaten as a substitute for shea-butter. The seeds contain several fatty acids including oleic (36 %), linoleic (28 %), palmitic (26 %), stearic (7 %). The seed of the atili is used for local draughts game during recreation. The seeds are roasted and pounded and the resulting powder mixed with skin oil or jelly to treat wounds. The seeds are strung into necklaces or attached to traditional instruments. The endocarp is used by children as spinning tops. The wood is said to secrete oil and is used for canoe making.

NEXT WEEK: The Wonders of African Black Olives ‘Atili’ (3)

To be continued next week… Don’t forget to like and follow me on all social media platforms.

Theresa Moses

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