Baobab is also known as the ‘African Baobab’. The Latin name for this is Adansonia digitata. It’s a plant species that is native to Africa, Madagascar and later, Australia. The fruit grows on a distinctive tree which is bulbous in nature. Around the world, it is known as the ‘upside-down tree’ or the ‘Monkey bread tree’.
The tree grows in some of the most adverse climates, hot, humid and deficient of water supply - yet it thrives. Its peculiar shape and evolutionary adaptations allow it to hold up to 1,200 gallons of water to survive the tougher weather conditions.
The tree and its fruit have poignant importance within Africa. Relatives that have passed over are buried in the base of the tree. Their relatives believe that their souls are embedded in the fruit. This is why the fruit is held to such high importance. It is thought that the relatives that have passed over provide abundant nutrition and health for their relatives through the fruit.
The fruit of the baobab is an elongated sphere. Its brown-green fruit hangs low from the branches of the tree. The fruit can be anywhere between 15-20cm in length. Within the fruit, there are some wonderful essential nutrients. The raw fruit pulp is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc. It’s also rich in Vitamin C. However, powdered baobab can include other parts of the plant, namely leaves and seeds too. Therefore, powdered baobab is a rich source of Vitamin B3, B6, C, iron and potassium.
What can Baobab do?
Blood Sugar Control and Weight Loss
The brilliant fruit has been shown to curb large fluctuations in blood glucose. Blood glucose is one of the physiological markers that the brain uses to determine hunger and satiation. When the glucose peaks and troughs sharply it can signal to the brain that you are hungry. Baobab allows the brain to feel satiated for longer and not require food as frequently because it feels full already. This is why Baobab is used popularly as a weight maintenance supplement.
A 2017 study looked at satiety in relation to the consumption of baobab. Although it is a small study of just 20 people the results were significant. The results showed that participants that consumed a smoothie containing 15g of baobab reported fewer incidents of hunger. However, there was no total calorie intake difference between each group.
Inflammation within the body is stimulated by a foreign marker. The immune system believes that this foreign market is within the body to do harm. Therefore, it releases inflammatory cells to promote the immune system’s function.
There isn’t strong human evidence supporting baobab in the reduction of inflammation. However, there is strong evidence in animal studies. One found that in mice with high levels of pro-inflammatory cells and congested blood vessels, a dosage of 200mcg of baobab per day reduced their ill health and inflammation.
Digestive health is a common ailment and common nutrition compliant. For more information on digestive health check out our article here.
Traditionally Baobab has been used for years to aid people in digestive distress. In Africa, baobab is given to those with dysentery, constipation and even diarrhoea. A UK study found that an addition of a baobab drink to a high carbohydrate meal (white bread) improves digestion, satiety, energy use after the meal and blood glucose response.
Baobab is rich in natural electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Electrolytes are essential trace minerals that help to balance the cell and are used in vital processed within the body. While we exercise and sweat we lose water as well as the electrolytes mentioned above. A drink prepared with baobab can act as a natural alternative to a high sugar commercial drink.
Adansonia digitata i s the popular new ‘it-fruit’. The question you need to ask yourself, what can it do for you?
Harriet Hunter, ANutr. Nutritionist