Baobab Health Benefits
Baobab health benefits include both support of prostate health and general health benefits, largely because of its extraordinary levels of vitamin C. The baobab fruit also provides a high level of bone-building calcium, about twice the amount found in milk.
Baobab is the fruit of the Adansonian digitata tree, also referred to as the upside down tree, bottle tree, or monkey bread tree. The tree grows mainly in Madagascar, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Among native peoples, the baobab fruit is valued highly as a food. Scientific investigation has shown that the fruit is a rich source of several nutrients, which is likely part of the reason for baobab health benefits.
Baobab Nutritional Value
Specifically, baobab has six times the vitamin C of oranges, twice the calcium level of milk, and high levels of potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Baobab fruit also provides a good source of fiber, protein, and probiotic activity, as it stimulates good bacteria in the gut. Ten grams of baobab dried fruit pulp contains 5 grams of fiber, which is comparable to the amount of fiber in one standard dose of psyllium taken as a laxative.
Baobab fruit consists of seeds, pulp, and red fibers, all encased in a very hard shell. Dried baobab fruit pulp is used to make nutritional supplements, and the seeds and red fibers are used to make extract oil, which is used for dry skin.
In the laboratory, baobab health benefits have been associated with its significant antioxidant activity, which has earned it a title as a “superfruit.” In fact, baobab is marketed as having an ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity; i.e., its antioxidant power) value twice that of cranberries and pomegranate and greater than the berries (e.g., blueberries, blackberries, raspberries). However, no data have been gathered concerning its antioxidant effects in the body.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved baobab fruit pulp as a safe food additive for foods and beverages because of its high vitamin C content. Among native peoples, baobab leaves are used as a vegetable, and the dry fruit pulp is consumed directly or mixed into porridge or milk.
Baobab Health Benefits
There are anecdotal reports regarding baobab health benefits. For example, the bark is said to be effective for people who suffer with fever, infections, and toothache. The leaves can be used for insect bites, asthma, and coughs. Baobab fruit is said to be helpful in cases of malaria and measles, while the roots can be used for sores and malaria.
From a scientific standpoint, only a few studies have been done on baobab health benefits. A 2009 study published in Food Science and Nutrition reported on an analysis of the composition and nutritional value of baobab fruit. The researchers noted that baobab pulp is especially rich in vitamin C while the leaves are an excellent source of calcium and a good source of proteins. (Chadare 2009)
Baobab extracts have been shown to have antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus. A study of 10 species of Togolese medicinal plants found that the root bark and leaf extracts of baobab were the most potent of the group. (Hudson 2000)
How To Take Baobab
Currently there are no recommended doses for baobab supplements. You may find baobab powder as an ingredient in vitamin formulas, smoothies, powdered drinks, and even some grain-based products.
Although generally considered to be safe, be cautious when buying baobab supplements. On the one hand, while the fruit is high in antioxidants and fiber, some products provide very little of these baobab health benefits per daily serving. On the other hand, because baobab is high in fiber, a dose equivalent to 10 grams of the dried fruit pulp has a laxative effect. Therefore, read supplement labels carefully before making your purchase.
Chadare FJ et al. Baobab food products: a review on their composition and nutritional value. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2009 Mar; 49(3): 254-74
Hudson JB et al. Further investigations on the antiviral activities of medicinal plants of togo. Pharm Biol 2000; 38(1): 46-50