Baobab – An African Health and Wellness option

Baobab is the fruit of Africa’s ‘Tree of Life’. This is because the tree provides shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions. The cork-like bark and huge stem are fire resistant and are used for making cloth and rope. The leaves are used as condiments and medicines. The fruit, called “monkey bread”, is edible, and full of vitamin C.The tree can store hundreds of litres of water, which is an adaptation to the harsh drought conditions of its environment. The tree may be tapped in dry periods. Mature trees are usually hollow, providing living space for many animals and humans. Trees are even used as bars, barns, wine and beer shops and more.

According to Forbes, “Baobab fruit is the superfruit that’s truly Super”. National Geographic blog, states that the fruit “contains six times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much calcium as milk, and plenty of B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and antioxidants.”

In Africa, the fruit has been harvested for centuries for its medicinal qualities. It is considered a general cure-all tonic, but it’s also commonly used particularly to treat fevers, malaria, gastric problems, and vitamin C deficiency among other ailments.

According to Forbes, in the fall of 2009, the FDA approved the use of baobab in foods and drinks, and the dried fruit powder (which is the natural state of the fruit pulp) was assigned GRAS status. This means: generally regarded as safe. It is the only fruit in the world that dries on the branch and is harvested and sieved to produce a 100% natural and organic powder that is exceptionally nutrient-rich, supporting a wide range of benefits.

It can be used to make tasty dishes in the form of sauces and porridges and a refreshing lemonade-type beverage when combined with water and sugar. The leaves are pounded to form a kind of relish, and seeds are roasted, ground and treated like coffee.  Whitney Neil London Dry Gin made from the fruit received the Gin Trophy award in 2011 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition – the most well-regarded competition of its kind. The gin uses both the citrusy fruit pulp and the mocha-like seeds which, in combination, are said to be responsible for the distinctively bold and spritely character of the drink. The final product was so unique and excellent, that producer, Johnny Neill, has been credited with re-inventing gin.

It’s also a super-laxative. The fruit has a very high soluble fiber content – 5 grams of every 100 grams. Per 100 grams, baobab has more soluble fiber than psyllium, the active ingredient used in laxatives.

It is also an antioxidant. According to the Journal of Nutrition, it has the highest antioxidant content of any whole fruit. It has an ORAC value of 24,000 u mol TE/100g, baobab powder has 20x antioxidants of green tea and more than blueberries and pomegranates combined.

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Obie Agusiegbe
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