The baobab fruit (also called monkey bread) has over 300 uses, according to the tradition of various African countries. It can be used to find relief from sore mola and fever, but even as a pesticide. The main use, however, is probably that of food. Out of 8 species, the best known is Adansonia digitata, a variant of the fruit and superfood.
This gigantic tree is the protagonist of ancient legends which describe its arrogance and which narrate that this plant was assigned by God to the hyena who, considering it useless, threw it away; thus landed with the roots towards the sky. The origin of the name is Arabic and means “father of many seeds”.
The fruit of the baobab (or monkey bread) grows inside an ovoid and resistant sheath, which contains inside the pulp with seeds with a sweet and sour taste. A group of experts confirmed its valuable nutritional values.
It is commercially available in the form of powder and can cross borders, but being a novelty for some countries, studies on its potential risks are still underway. Read on to learn more about this fascinating fruit, its benefits, and any risks.
Nutritional values of the baobab fruit or monkey bread
A study has indicated the baobab fruit as a “superfruit” because some nutrients stand out in its nutritional profile, such as vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids in high quantities.
The baobab fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C and fiber. According to a group of drug experts, its pulp contains between 7 and 10 times more vitamin C than an orange, with values ranging between 280 and 300 milligrams per 100 grams of fruit.
Consuming 40 grams of baobab fruit pulp is enough to meet 100% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C for pregnant women. Besides that, this fruit stands out for its vitamin B1 and B6 content.
Minerals in the baobab fruit
As for minerals, some researchers claim that the calcium content fluctuates between 211 and 655 milligrams per 100 grams of pulp. This means that it contains more or less twice as much as milk.
Potassium is also present in abundance: it is estimated that the baobab contains between 1240 and 1578 milligrams or 4 times more than the banana. The magnesium content, on the other hand, is 5 times higher than that of avocado.
Other studies claim that 36% of the nutrients are represented by carbohydrates (such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose), which give a sweet taste to the seeds.
Another part is made up of soluble fiber, especially pectin. As if that were not enough, a study was also conducted on the high concentration of essential fatty acids present in the baobab fruit, such as omega 6 and omega 9.
Despite its nutritional properties, most experts agree on one aspect: it is necessary to deepen the study of the bioavailability of the nutrients of the baobab fruit and its derivatives since the data in this regard are scarce.
The baobab fruit can be purchased in different formulations, but it must be remembered that studies on its consumption in the form of a supplement are lacking.
Possible benefits of the baobab fruit
The high concentration of nutrients and other active phytochemicals in the baobab fruit is associated with several health benefits:
Skin. Several scholars have observed that the oil of the baobab fruit promotes cell renewal of the skin. And this thanks to the presence of vitamin A. Vitamin E, for its part, acts as an antioxidant.
Blood pressure. The high potassium content offers a vasodilating effect. By regulating the pressure, the risk of pulmonary embolism and heart disease is reduced.
Immune system. The rich contribution of vitamin C contributes to an increase in the levels of white blood cells. This results in a stronger immune system.
Bones. High calcium and magnesium content promote bone health; for this reason, it is indicated in diets to prevent osteoporosis.
Analgesic and anti-inflammatory: an analgesic and antipyretic effect of the hot extract of the baobab fruit was observed. A study in guinea pigs demonstrated the anti-inflammatory activity of the pulp.
Antioxidant. The high phenolic content of this fruit offers antioxidant properties. Some authors, in fact, recommend taking it as a food supplement.
Hepatoprotector. The results of a study in guinea pigs suggest that the consumption of this fruit could offer a protective effect for the liver, thanks to its triterpene or sterol compounds.
Gastrointestinal health. The baobab fruit is used by African communities to provide relief from constipation, gastroenteritis, and diarrhea. The presence of soluble fiber can stimulate the proliferation of healthy bacteria for the intestine.
How can we consume it?
The baobab fruit is considered a staple of the diet of many areas of Central Africa. The pulp is diluted in water or milk to be then consumed as a drink and sauce. In addition to this, it is used as a fermenting agent in the preparation of local beer and is a valid substitute for cream of tartar used in pastry.
The pulp can also be used in the preparation of ice creams, juices, and jams. It should never be cooked and should be added at the end of the preparation when the mixture is at room temperature.
The seeds can be eaten fresh or dried, but also ground into flour to add to soups and stews for a thicker texture. Likewise, they can be toasted before being ground and made into a paste; then they will have to undergo a fermentation and drying process.
Typically, the baobab fruit is available in powder form, used as a sports supplement. As well as in nutritional formulas to add to smoothies, cereals, energy bars, yogurt, milk, and juices.
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