Have you seen the tree that looks like it is growing upside down? With a trunk so thick it takes 7 people, all holding hands, to hug it!
That would be the Baobab Tree. This amazing tree bears fruit that is full of deliciously “sweet and sour” seeds and pulp. The large, slightly round pods are covered in a beautiful velvet fur, probably to protect it from the scorching rays of the African sun.
Yes, you guessed it, Baobab Fruit comes from Africa. But did you know baobab powder is supercharged with vitamin C (6 x more than fresh oranges) calcium (2 x more than milk), potassium, thiamin, fiber ,Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 . In fact, Baobab fruit is considered to be the highest antioxidant fruit in the world (1) "more than blueberries & pomegranates combined!"
But before awarding it with official superfood status, let's dig in and get the scoop. We look at the Baobab health benefits , how to use Baobab powder and, since Africa is a long way away, where to buy it.
A Bit About Baobabs tree
In ancient African villages, people and specifically children, have been picking the baobab fruit, to eat as a thirst quenching, energy-boosting snack, for centuries. And thanks to the strange, upside down looking appearance of the tree and its many medicinal and nutritional properties, it is also a famous tree.
Many wonderful African tales abound about the wisdom and knowledge of this “muti” tree. The primary species, from which we get our baobab fruit powder, is Adansonia digitata and it can be found growing right through Africa, in hot, dry, frost-free zones.
Not only is the fruit pulp used but so are the seeds. Even the leaves and bark contain compounds that have been known to treat diarrhea, urinary disorders, fevers and hemoptysis (2).
There are nine species of baobab. Six are, found inn Madagascar, an island off the African coast. Most of these Malagasy species are threatened or endangered. One species is unique to Australia but the widest spread species, Adansonia digitata is found growing somewhere in most African countries, either as single trees or en masse, as a “forest” of baobab.
Medicinal and Nutritional Properties of Baobab Fruit Powder
High in Fiber and Flavanols:
The red fruit fibers of the Baobab are exceptionally high in fiber and antioxidants. The pulp contains flavanols, like quercetin and kaempherol. It is also rich in citric and tartaric acid. Another flavonol that has been isolated from the plant is triterpenoid, which may have anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties, but this area of research still needs more study.
The leaves and seeds contain essential fatty acids as well as calcium and protein, which provides a range of essential amino acids.
But I want to focus on the actual fruit pulp in this article, as it is from the pulp that baobab fruit powder comes from. And as we can’t just go into the bush and pick us some leaves and pods, the powder is a wonderful way to access the health benefits (3) from this ancient wisdom tree.
Pure Pulp Power in a Pouch:
Baobab fruit pulp is an excellent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic. This is thanks, in part, 4 tbsp (20 grams) of a high-quality organic Baobab Fruit Powder being loaded with
- Vitamin C and Vitamins B1, B2 and B3
- Energy 60 kcal
- Carbohydrate, by difference 12 gm 60%
- Fiber, total dietary 10 gm 50%
- Sugars, total 2 gm 10%
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 150 mg 7.5%
- Vitamin A, IU 2500 IU
- Thiamin 24 mg
- Vitamin B-6 15.45 mg
- Calcium, Ca 80 mg 4%
- Iron, Fe 27 mg 1.35%
- Magnesium, Mg 160 mg 8%
- Potassium, K 400 mg
- Sodium, Na 10 mg
It is also hepatoprotective, this means that there are properties in baobab fruit powder that can protect the liver and assist it in regenerating liver cells. The liver, when healthy, does a fine job in removing waste and toxins from our blood stream.
Dried Naturally to Retain Goodness:
Traditionally, the white pulp of the fruit actually dries in the seed pods and then it is picked and made into powder. This means all the goodness and the high vitamin C content is not compromised. Tests were done (4) and when the fresh pulp was removed and sun-dried it lost almost all its vitamin C.
Fortunately for us baobab fruit powder that is commercially available is harvested and manufactured with this in mind (like this one) . Fruit is picked when it is fully mature or has fallen to the ground. It is then cracked open to extract the dried pulp.
Health & Beauty Benefits Of Baobab powder
The combination of vitamin C, tartaric and citric acid as well as flavanols, like quercetin, provide powerful antioxidant properties (5).
Baobab pulp contains 6 x more vitamin C than oranges and 50 % more iron than spinach.
One serving (10g) of baobab fruit powder provides 20% of your daily fiber requirements. And almost 25% of your daily vitamin C requirements.
1. Healthy skin, hair and nails:
Vitamin C assists with collagen synthesis for healthy skin, hair and nails
2. Vitamin C helps in white blood cell formation:
This means the immune system is boosted and can function better.
3. Weight loss
The fiber and antioxidants will control blood sugar levels, which will reduce cravings, keep you fuller for longer, curbing appetite and helping you maintain a balanced eating pattern.
4. Digestive health can be improved
The fiber from baobab pulp is excellent food for the bacteria in your gut that is so essential to maintaining the delicate balance of gut flora. This makes it a dual purpose supplement. As a prebiotic it prepares the gut for any probiotics that will be ingested, especially after taking a course of antibiotics. The fiber will also ensure that constipation or diarrhea will be avoided and increases the bodies ability to absorb nutrients (6).
5. Electrolyte Imbalances can cause a long list of health issues
Baobab powder contains good levels of electrolytes like potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and iron (6). Often we lose vital electrolytes when we perspire during workouts or exercise. Or when we are ill and suffer from diarrhea or vomiting. Drinking baobab powder with water is an excellent way to restore electrolyte imbalances.
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include:
- dizziness and a drop in blood pressure
- headaches and thirst
- lack of concentration
- muscle aches and spasms
6. Prevents kidney stones and flushes the liver
Vitamin C is water soluble and gets filtered through our kidneys. This makes it a great rejuvenator of both the kidneys and the liver.
7. Fights free radicals
High antioxidant activity ensures cellular damage from oxidation, occurring from free radicals, can be reversed and prevented. This makes it a great preventative from cancers and tumors (8).
8. Reduces inflammation
which can prevent an array of chronic health issues like
- metabolic syndrome
- heart disease
How To Use Baobab Powder
One serving of baobab fruit powder ranges from 8g to 15g but the amount of servings you choose to take daily is a personal choice.
Baobab Detox Water
One way to take it is to mix it with water and drink as a refreshing detox water. I have found that a tablespoon added to 250 ml is perfect for my taste buds. To enhance your detox water you can add cucumber slices, strawberries, mint or even apple cider vinegar.
Baobab Smoothies (plant-based)
Whether you use dairy milk, cultured yogurt or nut milk, you can add a serving or two of baobab fruit powder to whatever kind of smoothie you choose.
My favorite is almond milk mixed with banana, medjoul dates, chlorella powder, baobab and yacon powder. Sometimes I add dried goji berries , roasted walnuts/ oranges / apples/ chia seeds or fresh blueberries or strawberries.
Awesome as a pre/post workout drink. Add one serving to coconut water.
As a Topping
Sprinkle on yogurt, desserts, cereals and porridge. It gives a real zesty edge to whatever it is added to.
Baking and CookingSome people would probably add it to baking as the pectin is a natural thickener and it is a wonderful natural flavoring. But I am not sure what the heat would do to the vitamin C value, although it does contain other antioxidants that are not compromised by heat.
Where To Buy The Best Baobab Fruit Powder
Most specialty health food stores should be carrying at least one brand of baobab fruit powder. If you can’t find it locally, Amazon has a wide range of brands to choose from. I am currently using Limitless Baobab Fruit Powder. It is quite cheap and I like the way it mixes with water.
I have found the taste stays pretty much the same no matter what brand I buy.
Baobab fruit powder is unique in that it drys on the tree before being opened. Only then is the pod cracked open and the dried pulp inside is made into powder. Slight variations in vitamin and mineral content will occur depending on where the trees are from. So if you are really picky just read the labels before deciding. The vitamin C content can range from 10% to 25% per serving and the fiber content also varies from 15% to 20% of one’s daily fiber requirements.
Baobest baobab fruit powder is another brand I have tried myself which also has the maximum fiber and vitamin C content per serving.
Possible Side Effects of Baobab Powder
Fortunately baobab powder is pretty safe for everyone to take, including pregnant women but if you are breastfeeding, be careful. Because of its ability to increase mineral absorption infants could be at risk of absorbing heavy metals. So it is also advised not to give it to infants. But it is healthy and safe for children over 2 years of age to take.
Drug interactions: Do not take if you are using tetracycline antibiotics.
People with a sensitivity towards citric or tartaric acid may experience vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. But taking even up to 4 servings a day should be safe.
Important note: Before starting any new supplement consult your natural health practitioner, especially if you have pre existing health issues or are taking prescribed medication. The information in this article is in no way meant to offer medical advice and is purely informative.
What are your thoughts on Baobab Fruit Powder? Would you try it & what's your favorite recipe ? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image credit : Instagram @michaelataara @powbab
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by Simon Jackson Baobab: The Tree of Life — An Ethnopharmacological Review HerbalGram. 2015; American Botanical Council Issue: 108 Page: 42-53
Chadare FJ1, Linnemann AR, Hounhouigan JD, Nout MJ, Van Boekel MA. Baobab food products: a review on their composition and nutritional value. 2009 Mar;49(3):254-74
August 2006: Baobab dried fruit pulp. EC No. 72 Application from PhytoTrade Africa to approve baobab dried fruit pulp as a novel food ingredient. Authorised July 2008
S. Vertuani et al (2002). Antioxidant capacity of Adansonia digitata fruit pulp and leaves. Acta Phytotherapeutica. 5(2).
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(Baobab) on Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma, Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2013,38-46