Top 5 health benefits of baobab
What is baobab powder, where does it come from and does it deserve the hype? Registered nutritionist Nicola Shubrook takes a closer look at the health claims.
What is baobab?
Baobab is the name of a fruit from the Adansonia genus of trees. It's found inside hard pods that hang upside-down from the trees. Baobab is usually consumed as a powder made from the harvested fruit that is dried and ground. It has a pleasant, citrussy flavour.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides and find out the top 5 benefits of cinnamon, moringa and manuka honey. Plus, check out our most popular healthy recipes, from our chicken and chorizo jambalaya to our ultimate fishcakes.
A 10g serving of baobab powder provides:
- 25Kcal / 105KJ
- 0.2g Protein
- 0.1g Fat
- 4.1g Carbohydrate
- 4.7g Fibre
- 198mg Potassium
- 27mg Vitamin C
Top 5 health benefits
1. May help manage blood sugar levels
There has been little research into the health benefits of baobab in humans, but a 2013 study looked at whether baobab could reduce glycaemic response (blood sugar levels) when baked into white bread or stirred into water. The study found that not only is baobab high in polyphenols – plant compounds with protective antioxidant properties – but that it did reduce starch digestion and glycaemic responses in humans.
However, these findings were later contradicted in a study in 2016 by Nutrition Research; this study found that baobab-enriched bread did not affect glycaemic response or hunger, but when the fruit extract was added to white bread, there was a reduction in the amount of insulin needed to manage the blood glucose response. More research is obviously needed in this area, but baobab does appear to have some positive attributes that may help those with diabetes or insulin sensitivity.
2. May treat fever and high temperatures
In Africa, a mash made of the dried bark of the baobab has been used as a herbal remedy to help treat fever and high temperatures. There has been some evidence that the fruit, pulp and seeds of the baobab does in fact have anti-fever properties and may lower elevated body temperature.
3. Is antimicrobial and antiviral
There have been a few papers looking at baobab for its antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, but more research is needed to confirm which part of the plant is most beneficial.
4. Rich in protective antioxidants
Baobab is packed with plant compounds, including polyphenols that protect cells from damage and help manage inflammation. A number of animal studies suggest that both the bark and fruit pulp may help reduce levels of inflammation. However, more research needs to evaluate the relevance, if any, for humans.
5. May promote fullness
Baobab is high in fibre, which makes it useful in helping curb appetite and possibly support weight management goals. One small study supported the use of baobab for reducing hunger and having a positive influence on weight management.
Is baobab safe for everyone?
Although the seeds and pulp of the fruit contain compounds like phytates and tannins, which may inhibit the absorption of important nutrients, levels are unlikely to be of concern when baobab is included as part of a balanced diet. However, if you are considering it as a supplement, it is best to check with your GP if you are taking prescribed medication, are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Baobab powder recipes
If you do want to try baobab powder, an easy way to incorporate it into your diet is by adding one tablespoon to your favourite smoothie or energy bites, or using it in baking. Here are a few recipes where you might include it:
This article was last reviewed on 6 October 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a postgraduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the past 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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