Unique Product of the Day: Baobab Powder, Baobab Fruit & Baobab Extracts

thumb_aduna_baobab_treeThe Baobab Tree

The majestic baobab tree is an icon of the African continent and lies at the heart of many traditional African remedies and folklore.

The baobab is a prehistoric species which predates both mankind and the splitting of the continents over 200 million years ago. Native to the African savannah where the climate is extremely dry and arid, it is a symbol of life and positivity in a landscape where little else can thrive. Over time, the Baobab has adapted to its environment. It is a succulent, which means that during the rainy season it absorbs and stores water in its vast trunk, enabling it to produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when all around is dry and arid. This is how it became known as “The Tree of Life”.

Baobab trees grow in 32 African countries. They can live for up to 5,000 years, reach up to 30 metres high and up to an enormous 50 metres in circumference. Baobab trees can provide shelter, food and water for animals and humans, which is why many savannah communities have made their homes near Baobab trees.

Health Benefits

In Africa, the baobab fruit has been used medicinally for centuries to treat everything from fevers, malaria and gastrointestinal problems to vitamin C deficiency. In countries like the US and UK, however, this somewhat tangy fruit with a citrusy flavor has remained largely unknown – until recently. As more scientific research on the remarkable nutritional value and health benefits of the baobab fruit emerges, people across the world are beginning to show interest in products made from this up-and-coming superfood (pure baobab fruit powder made from the dried fruit and baobab seeds are just a few examples of baobab products that can now be found in health food stores in the UK and the US).

Interestingly, the Baobab’s Integral Antioxidant Capacity (IAC) “is ten times higher than orange pulp due to the abundant presence of ascorbic, citric, malic and succinic acids.” The IAC represents the combined capacity of hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants; one study found that all parts of the Baobab (including the pulp, leaves and seeds) not only have higher IACs than orange pulp, but also higher IACs than strawberry, bilberry and kiwi pulp. The Baobab is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Yet another study listed extracts of Adansonia digitata as being an antioxidant and displaying “significant radical scavenging properties.” Of fourteen species of “wild edible fruits,” those from Adansonia digitata came in second place for highest phenolic and flavonoid content.

New studies also show that baobab fruit extracts may also help those with diabetes. Functional beverages with baobab significantly reduced the glycemic response to eating white bread, with the effects linked to the fiber and polyphenol content of the baobab. In addition, adding baobab fruit extract to white bread led to a reduction in rapidly digestible starch from white brea samples, according to findings published in Nutrition Research.

“The baobab fruit is a rich source of bioaccessible polyphenols, and the current study shows the potential for baobab for reducing the glycemic response to carbohydrate-rich foods in vitro and in vivo,” wrote researchers from Oxford Brookes University (UK) and Monash University (Australia).

Commercial Uses

Nutritional Applications
Since baobab obtained approval from EU regulators in 2008 as a novel food ingredient, the United Kingdom has been increasing imports of powdered baobab fruit for use as a healthy additive to snack foods and beverages. In the UK, the amount of baobab dried pulp that can be added to foods, such as cereal bars and smoothies, ranges from 10-20{bfa08a400c7550404055ff04715e84c9172815d33c25eb3b84e230636ecdc007} (typically 5-10 g).16 This should be kept in mind when assessing baobab’s contribution to the product’s overall nutritional intake.

A 2008 report by the UK-based Natural Resources Institute estimated that trade in baobab fruit could be worth up to $961 million per year for African producers — it is currently valued at $11 million.13 African producers export approximately 20 tons of baobab each year, and the growing industry is crucial in bringing money to local people who harvest and process the fruit.

Baobab fruit pulp is currently available as a milled and sifted, free-flowing, light-colored powder, as well as a de-pectinized extract, and in the form of leaf extracts, fruit fiber (funicles), or fruit seed oil. The powder can be taken in its pure form as is done traditionally, but it can also be stirred into porridge, yogurt, or smoothies to appeal to a Western diet. Companies in Europe and North America offer baobab food products in a variety of forms, including sauces, jams, bars, and fruit chews, among others.

Skin and Cosmetic Benefits
In addition to its nutritional value, baobab has been shown to be beneficial for skin care. Studies suggest that baobab preparations can promote skin cell regeneration and tone, tighten, and moisturize the skin. These effects may be due, in part, to baobab’s vitamin A, D, and E content. The fruit pulp provides a complex of vitamins that exerts a variety of positive, synergistic actions, including the following: emollient effects (vitamin A), the control of sebaceous gland excretion (vitamin B6), the induction of melanin synthesis (vitamin B1/B2 complex), antioxidant defense and collagen synthesis stimulation (vitamin C), improvement of cutaneous circulation (vitamin B4), action against lipid peroxidation (vitamin E), and defense from tissue matrix degradation (triterpenic compounds).

Fiber contained in the pulp also promotes anti-aging and antioxidant effects on the skin. Leaf extracts have antioxidant, emollient, and soothing properties, keeping skin soft and elastic while also exerting antibacterial activity. The fatty oil from the seeds improves the firmness, hydration, and lightness of the skin. It also has soothing and anti-inflammatory effects due to essential oils, hydrocarbons, and sterols, making it an ideal treatment for dry skin and the prevention of wrinkles. Baobab seed oil can heal abrasions, sunburns, and hematomas, and promote tissue regeneration.

Where to Buy?

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