Baobab fruit: what it is, benefits, recipes

Baobab fruit: what it is, benefits, recipes

Baobab fruit: what it is, benefits, recipes

What is baobab?

You may know the baobab tree from the animated film Madagascar.

While these strange trees are native to this island, they also grow in many regions of the African continent.

Baobab fruits grow in long, green, velvety pods that hang from the branches of the baobab tree.

The baobab fruit is unique: it dries naturally on the branch – the only fruit in the world.

If you’ve never heard of baobab fruit, you’re not alone as it’s not readily available in grocery stores.

However, baobab powder is gradually appearing on supermarket shelves as people discover its medicinal properties and health benefits

“Baobab is high in nutrients — fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals like vitamins B, C, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium,” says Danielle Gaffen, registered dietitian and nutritionist based in San Diego, California.

Madagascar, Morondava, Baobab Trees

Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Getty Images

Where does the baobab tree grow?

Baobab trees, part of Adansonia genusmay be associated with both the island of Madagascar and the African continent, but these “trees of life” – their nickname – also have different cultivars growing in India, Ceylon, Australia and the Middle East.

The fruit is becoming better known and the powder is exported to other regions of the world – although increased demand could become an environmental concern, as a newly planted tree can take 25 years before bearing fruit. The trees can live 1,000 years or more.

Also, baobab trees are not grown on plantations – they grow in the wild or are community owned.

How do people use it?

The baobab pod or fruit is green as it grows and takes around six months to be ready to harvest.

Pickers can tell when a pod is ready to harvest because its skin color changes from green to brown.

After harvesting from the tree, the pods are broken open and the white flesh separated from the seeds, leaving dry bits of fruit which are then ground and ground into a fine powder.

But the fruit of the baobab tree isn’t the only part locals harvest: They use the leaves, seeds, and bark as traditional remedies to treat a variety of diseases, including malaria and dysentery.

Nutritional values ​​of baobab

“Baobab is a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and fiber,” says Holly Klamer, a Michigan-based dietician and nutritionist.

Here are the nutritional benefits and Recommended Daily Values ​​(DV) of two tablespoons (20 grams) of baobab powder:

Calories: 50

Protein: 0.7 g (1 percent DV)

Carbohydrates: 16 grams (6 percent DV)

Fat: 0 g

Fiber: 9 g (32 percent DV)

Vitamin C: 34.6 mg (38 percent DV)

Vitamin B6: 0.483 mg (37 percent DV)

Calcium: 68.40 mg (5 percent DV)

Iron: 1.68 mg (9 percent DV)

Magnesium: 31.60 mg (8 percent DV)

Niacin: 3.99 mg (25 percent DV)

Potassium: 438 mg (9 percent DV)

open baobab fruitjonnysek/Getty Images

Possible health benefits of baobab

Because baobab is high in fiber, it can help with weight management and keep your blood sugar levels stable — and these are just a few of the fruit’s potential benefits.

Helps you feel full longer

Fiber is important for keeping the body healthy and feeling full after a meal.

“Baobab is rich in fiber. There is some preliminary research to suggest that the fiber and polyphenols in baobab (extract) may reduce feelings of hunger and keep you fuller for longer,” explains Gaffen. “The fiber also promotes digestive health!”

Fiber not only helps you feel full, there are a number of benefits of getting enough fiber in a balanced diet.

“Higher fiber levels are associated with a healthy digestive tract, help prevent constipation, and benefit the beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome,” explains Gaffen.

Helps control blood sugar

It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels steady — steep spikes and dips can lead to overeating and are a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

“In some research studies where baobab was incorporated into white bread dough, participants experienced a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels compared to white bread alone,” says Gaffen.

“This may be due to the fiber content in baobab; Fiber helps prevent large spikes in blood sugar.”

inflammation

Baobab can reduce inflammation associated with numerous chronic conditions such as heart disease, digestive problems, and certain types of arthritis.

“There’s some preliminary research that suggests baobab might help reduce inflammation (probably due to the antioxidants and polyphenols found in this fruit),” says Gaffen.

So far, studies have only been done in animals, so “more research is needed to see how baobab can affect inflammation in humans,” Gaffen explains.

Good for the skin

Baobab oil shows promise as a moisturizer: “When applied topically in oil form, it’s a moisturizer that can soften and hydrate the skin and reduce inflammation,” explains Jennifer Trent, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Florida.

In some studies, baobab oil has helped relieve acne, eczema, and dandruff, says Dr. Trent.

But it’s important to realize that more information is needed — and it may not be for everyone, especially since the oil can clog pores and cause blackheads or other discomfort, explains Dr. Trent.

concerns or risks

Overall, baobab is safe to consume, but it does contain antinutrients — they can limit or decrease the absorption of various nutrients.

“Baobab contains oxalic acid, phytates and tannins – all three of which can reduce the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients,” explains Gaffen. “Cyclopropenoid fatty acids found in baobab oil can also contribute to health problems.”

In general, antinutrients are not something to worry about too much.

“For most healthy people, the amounts of these nutrients are so small that they shouldn’t be a problem, especially if a person eats a balanced, healthy diet,” says Gaffen.

“Also, some of these antinutrients are reduced during processing.”

Baobab does not pose a problem for most people, but if you are considering adding this ingredient to your diet, you should consult your doctor beforehand.

“If a person has a serious health condition, is pregnant, or is breastfeeding, it’s worth checking with your doctor before consuming baobab,” says Gaffen.

How do you eat baobab powder?

Since the fruit is not readily available or easy to find, one of the best ways to try baobab is in the form of baobab powder.

You can add it to a range of beverages like tea, juice or water to add some flavor and spice as well as extra nutrients.

“Baobab powder can be added to water or other liquids and provides a slightly lemony, sweet taste,” says Klamer.

You can also sprinkle some on top of your yogurt and mix in. Baobab powder is versatile, and you can use it “to thicken smoothies and incorporate it into ice cream or other confections,” says Klamer.

But not just for smoothies. “The powder can also be incorporated into baked goods like bread dough for an extra boost of antioxidants,” explains Gaffen.

Next, here is everything you need to know about dragon fruit benefits.

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