The baobab tree is native to the African savannah and grows wild in more than thirty countries across the continent. Because it thrives in such a harsh environment and stores water to produce fruit during the dry season, some people call it “The Tree of Life.” Consumers are showing increasing interest in the baobab fruit for its nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value.
A hard pod, approximately one-quarter inch thick, surrounds the fruit’s seeds and flesh, which is pinkish or ivory in color. The seeds are held together by fibers, similar to a pumpkin and grow around the flesh. The leaves, seeds, fibers, and flesh all have nutritional value. When mature, the flesh is completely dry.
Approximately fifty percent of the flesh is fiber, a nutrient vital to good digestive health at any age. In the intestines, soluble fiber becomes a gel. As it passes through the digestive tract it absorbs water, which slows down digestion. This allows the body to absorb nutrients more efficiently and derive the most benefit from food. Its probiotic properties ensure the digestive system maintains the proper amount of bacteria for normal function.
The fruit contains a variety of important vitamins and minerals. Among them are calcium and potassium as well as vitamins B1, B6 and C. In addition to its role in building strong bones and teeth, calcium contributes to digestive health by aiding in the function of certain digestive enzymes. Potassium is important for maintaining normal blood pressure, which reduces stress.
The body needs the vitamins in baobab to produce the energy necessary for normal function of all physiological systems. Vitamins C and B6 reduce fatigue and play roles in keeping the immune system healthy. Vitamin C makes non-heme iron from vegetables more soluble, which aid in its absorption through the intestinal lining.
The fruit from this tree is packed with antioxidants, substances that prevent molecules from oxidizing. Free radicals are byproducts of oxidation and can trigger chain reactions in various cells that lead to their death. Free radicals may contribute to the aging process and a variety of health disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke. Vitamin C offers protection for cells against the stress of oxidation and aids in the regeneration of Vitamin E.
The leaves of the baobab are useful in cooking in for making herbal remedies. After the leaf is dried, it is crushed into a coarse or fine powder that contains potassium, tartrate, mucilage, glutamic acid, tannins, calcium, catechins, and uronic acids. The powder can be useful as an expectorant for treating a cough as well as treating fatigue, asthma, kidney problems, insect bites and gallbladder disorders.
As one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, it is easy to see why so many people are excited about the baobab fruit. Suppliers market it as the most effective of all the so-called superfruits because it offers more nutritional value than acai berries and pomegranates. The extensive range of benefits includes aiding with energy metabolism, improving skin, and promoting good digestive health.