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WHAT MAKES A SUPERFOOD

Why Baobab

All About The Tree Of Life

Why the huge interest in a harsh dry region growing tree that stocks water up to 26,000 gallons in its lifetime? Crack the greenish pods from the baobab and inside is a white baobab fruit considered a nutrients powerhouse. In Africa, the baobab tree products have been consumed for millennia, but in the western part of the world they mostly appear in cereal bars and smoothies among other foods.

The leaves of the baobab are consumed with relish while the fruit once dissolved in water or milk forms a unique traditional drink similar to baobab tea. Baobab seeds also provide edible oil beyond the fact that they can be eaten roasted or raw. The leaves, including the bark and the fruit are extensively used in the treatment of medical complications such as kidney diseases. Across Africa, the fruit of the baobab has been used extensively in dealing with deficiencies of vitamin C, gastrointestinal issues to malaria and fevers.

In 2008, FDA received a submission to the effect that baobab dry fruit is generally recognised as safe (GRAS) and forthwith approved the use of the fruit in blended fruits drinks and fruit cereal bars in September 2010. The approval of the baobab fruit powder and its related products in both the EU and United States comes at the backdrop of extensive scientific research for decades.

Across the UK and the United States, the citrus flavoured tangy fruit and other baobab tree products was unknown until the benefits went mainstream. Baobab tree products, particularly the fruit are highly endowed with vitamin C while the integral antioxidant level of pulp from the baobab fruit was found to be ten times more than orange pulp’s.

Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties have also been described as critical in beverage applications as an efficient prebiotic ingredient. The fruit pulp as well as the seeds of the baobab tree has also been studied and excellent magnesium, calcium and potassium levels found; baobab fruit is being used as a natural calcium supplementation for the elderly, children, breastfeeding and pregnant women.

As a result of its high nutritional value, baobab tree products, from the leaves, seeds to the fruit are endowed with crucial health benefits. The baobab fruit is rich in vitamin C, which help the body to create elastin and collagen, structural proteins that leave the skin healthy and youthful looking. Its high antioxidant levels make the fruit the best to deal with fine lines and wrinkles appearing on the skin by neutralising unstable molecules, atoms and free radicals stopping them from damaging body cells.

The body requires minerals to synergistically and independently carry out diverse functions in the body. Baobab fruit mineral concentration is one of its kind with such minerals as zinc, calcium, copper, sodium, iron, potassium and magnesium. For those who want a quick way to take baobab then baobab powder capsules are well thought off.

Clinical studies have also been done to ascertain the efficacy of baobab solution in the treatment and prevention of acute infant dehydration during diarhoea. The study found out that the use of the solution from the Adansonia digitata or baobab was found to have extra advantages culturally, economically and nutritionally and recommended for use at home.

Weight loss has always been an issue and the products of the baobab tree can help. Baobab fruit pulp and so baobab powder contains lots of vitamin C effective in carnitine production, a compound needed to compel the body to transform fat into energy in contrast with storing it in the body. Baobab fruit also has an effect on glycemic response and digestion of starch, which can help obese and overweight individuals reduce their body weight especially using specialist baobab powder recipes.

Cardiovascular health highly depends on vitamin C, naturally occurring in baobab fruits. An intake of the vitamin lessens the onslaught of varicose veins. Baobab fruit pulp also contains hepatoprotective properties through beta amyrin palmintate, ursolic acid, beta sitosterol and triterpenoids, protecting the liver against damage.

Managing blood sugar levels has always been a problem. A study however suggested that baobab fruit extracts can help in the formulation of functional foods. The glycemic response of consuming white break is significantly lowered by taking beverages containing baobab such as baobab tea.

Such effects are connected to baobab’s high content of polyphenol and fibre. Also, addition of baobab fruit pulp to normal white bread was found to reduce digestible starch from white bread. Release of sugar and breakdown of starch went down with the addition of baobab powder in bread.

Baobab Fruit Benefits

While there are many herbs and trees used for medicinal and food purposes across Africa, it’s the baobab that stands out for its now famous fruit powder. Baobab benefits your health and this have been observed over hundreds of years; benefits include protection for all manner of diseases from gastrointestinal complications, malaria to malnutrition and including lots of health issues related to the deficiency of vitamin C.

In the western world the baobab fruit has been unknown for the longest time although history suggests it was used in America in the 19th to mid 20th century as a medicinal component. In Europe at about the same time baobab powder was used in cake making. Nonetheless, the citrus flavored tangy fruit from one of the most remarkable trees in Africa and other drier parts of the world was only recently discovered as a superfood with a powerful composition of nutrients.

While virtually the entire baobab tree is used in various ways, it’s the fruit that stands out, which once dried is made into the finest powders packed with immense benefits. The powder is unprocessed and usually packed without any additive to keep it natural and pure.

Healthy eating comes with its share of challenges and boosting the nutritional value of our meals and diets is of utmost importance. This is where the baobab powder comes in with the potential to boost the nutritional quality of any type of food, from a mere breakfast, lunch, snacks to dinner. Here is how baobab benefits your life.

Baobab Fruit Source of top minerals

One of the impressive baobab benefits is the amount of quality minerals it packs. By adding the powder in your dishes, smoothies and other favourite dishes, you will be supplying the body with such beneficial minerals as zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and copper, among others. Remember that either together or alone the minerals carry out lots of functions in your body.

Baobab Fruit Benefits for heart diseases

Due to the heavy vitamin C in baobab powder, it’s one of the best foods to use to keep the cardiovascular system working perfectly and healthy. Studies have indicated taking vitamin C in supplement form everyday for 60 days dips the levels of C-reactive protein plasma. Research has also indicated levels of C-reactive protein are perhaps a better way of measuring the risk to a heart complication than checking the levels of cholesterol.

Baobab Fruit & Varicose Veins

Venous insufficiency and varicose veins also indicate additional heart complications that an intake of vitamin C in food can alleviate. Vitamin C also comes in handy in the manufacture of elastin and collagen, which are also connective tissues mandated with ensuring veins across the body are not just toned up but strong while boosting circulation across the body.

As such, those with below par vitamin C levels are usually affected by varicose veins. Including baobab powder in your meals, smoothies and other foods will definitely bring this nutrient to the right level.

Baobab Fruit benefits Weight loss

Baobab benefits weight loss by enhancing the fat burning abilities of the body, especially while working out mostly through the addition of Vitamin C in meals. This follows a scientific study that has indicated individuals with low vitamin C concentrations in their blood were found to have burned 25% less fat in an hour’s workout at a treadmill, in contrast to individuals whose blood had the right vitamin C levels. Since carnitine production requires vitamin C, the weight reduction potential of baobab extracts cannot be under-emphasized.

Carnitine encourages the body to make fuel out of fat in contrast to storing it as fat. Baobab powder has some positive effects on glycemic response and digestion of starch, which has been touted as helpful for those who are obese or overweight.

Baobab Fruit benefits the skin

An anti-wrinkle diet is highly influenced by vitamin C and any food adding this important nutrient is highly welcome. Baobab powder contains immense levels of vitamin C. On its part, the vitamin gives the body the impetus it needs to create both elastin and collagen, unique structural proteins adding to the elasticity of the skin and its total health. The huge levels of antioxidants in baobab fruit powder also boost the skin health of the user; free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants, including unstable molecules and atoms capable of bringing a lot of damage in the cells of the body; this raises the threat of degenerative complications plus fine lines, aging and wrinkles.

Baobab Fruit benefits cleansing and as a potential detoxifier

Studies have indicated that baobab extracts contain significant level of liver damage protective effects. This is due to the presence of hepatoprotective properties within the baobab powder as a result of ursolic acid, beta-amyrin palmitate, beta-sitosterol and triterpenoids present in the extract. The health of the liver is improved in the process as the detoxification of toxic substances takes place.

Baobab Fruit - A Gluten free alternative

Baobab powder is a gluten-free and vegan functional type of food whose versatility is evident in a kitchen. Adding baobab to delicious bake blends, smoothies and dressings adds some unique flavor to the mix including additional nutrients. Due to its natural thickening characteristic, baobab powder is ideal as a gluten-free alternative particularly in thickening sauces rather than the use of tarter cream, corn starch or flour. Adding some baobab fruit powder to a roux, sauce or dressing will thicken it.

Baobab Fruit benefits Diabetes and Blood sugar levels control

Both insoluble and soluble fibers are found in baobab powder. It’s packed as it was harvested without any additive and this makes sure all nutrients are well maintained. The fiber in the powder helps a lot in the control of levels of blood sugar. Baobab benefits your health as insoluble fibers are also important in improving digestion by the creation of roughage within the digestive tract.

Remember teeth, gums, blood vessels, bones and skin all require vitamin C if they are to remain as healthy as possible, and this is how baobab benefits them. Absorption of iron in the body also requires an intake of vitamin C, including fighting off fevers and colds. Baobab fruit powder’s high vitamin C content, which is six times that of the most nutritious oranges, makes it the wonderful choice to go for.

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Baobab Tree Myths and Legends

There are several different stories and myths that surround why the baobab tree looks as though it is growing upside down. The story of the god, Thora and the baobab tree is a short and simply one. Thora, also known as Cagn, Kaang and Kho, was the god who created the world and as he was out walking in his garden one day, he saw the baobab tree growing and didn’t like it. So he ripped it from the ground and threw it over the wall of Paradise, where it fell to Earth. The baobab tree landed upside down, but instead of dying, it simply continued to grow.

Another tale of why the baobab tree grows “upside down” is that God (Jehovah or Yahweh) was creating the world and planted the baobab tree, except when He planted the tree, it kept moving, walking across the earth. So God pulled it up and turned it upside down, then replanted it, all so the baobab tree would stop moving.

A different myth about the appearance of the baobab tree also involves God, but is slightly different to the one above. In this story, God is planting the trees on the earth and decides to get each of the animals to help him. So God gave every animal a different tree to plant and they all went about their tasks quite happily, all except for the hyena. The hyena was given the baobab tree and he didn’t plant it with care. Instead he shoved it into the earth, upside down.

Now everyone knows how stupid the hyena is. When he went out, he planted the baobab tree upside down. That is why the roots look like they are growing in the air and the leaves are buried out of sight in the ground.

The fourth story about the baobab tree and its root-like branches is one that many can relate to due to the parallels of body image that can be drawn. The story says that the first baobab tree was growing next to a small lake. When it was small it didn’t notice what the other trees around it looked like, but as it grew taller it began to see that the other trees all looked very different to it. There were some that were tall and slender, others had large leaves and there were even some with brightly colored flowers, but when the baobab tree looked at its reflection in the lake, it did not see a beautiful slender tree with large leaves and colourful flowers. Instead the baobab tree saw a fat trunk with wrinkled and ugly bark, instead of brightly colored flowers, there were pale and cream flowers and its leaves were not big, they were tiny.

The baobab tree got quite upset and went to the creator and asked “Why did you make me so ugly? Why couldn’t you make me elegant like the palm tree with its slender and straight trunk? Why did you have to make me so big and fat? Look at the masses of bright and beautiful flowers of the flame tree! What about me? Why couldn’t you give me flowers like that?” The baobab complained for hours and days about how unfair the creator had been and its complaints became worse when it saw the fruit on the fig tree.

The creator listened to the baobab tree as it complained until he could listen no longer to the constant complaints that he seized the baobab tree from the ground and determined that the baobab should no longer be able to complain, turned it upside down and planted back in the ground.

The baobab tree could no longer see its reflection, nor could it complain and because it complained for so long and frustrated the creator, it is now the most helpful and useful tree, trying to amend for offending the creator.

 

Madagascar has an interesting baobab legend that comes from one of the six species of baobab tree that can be found on the island. The Baobab Amoureux is a species of baobab where two Adansonia za trees have twisted around each other as they have grown.

It is believed that the Baobab Amoureux came into being because of a tragic love story. The legend says that centuries ago there lived a young man and a young woman. The lived in villages that were close to each other and, over time, the two fell in love and wanted to be together forever.

However, this could not be, as both the young man and young woman were already betrothed to people from their own villages, but neither would give up their impossible dream of marrying and having a child. So they secretly asked their god for help.

Though their god did not allow them to marry, he brought the two baobab trees into existence that grew together over the centuries, together as a single entity for all eternity as the young man and young woman had wished to be.

As the baobab tree flowers bloom during the night, there is a myth that has been created surrounding them. It I believed by Bushmen that whoever plucks the flowers from the baobab tree will be torn apart by lions because the flowers are not simply flowers; they are flowers that are inhabited by spirits.

The pips of the baobab tree are also thought to have magical properties. It is said that if you drink water made from the ground pips of the baobab tree you will become mighty and be protected from crocodiles.

Some Of The Science Behind Baobab

Baobab Fruit is “a source of soluble fibers with PREBIOTIC-LIKE activity”
Manfredini S. (2002) The Health Properties of Baobab (Adansonia Digitata), University of Ferrara.

“The baobab fruit is a rich source of bioaccessible polyphenols, and the current study shows the potential of baobab for reducing the glycemic response to carbohydrate-rich foods both in vitro and in vivo”.
SA Coe et al. “The polyphenol-rich baobab fruit reduces starch digestion and glycemic response in humans”. Nutrition Research. 2013 Nov; 33[11]:888-96

“The seed and fruit pulp are excellent sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium … the high calcium content makes the baobab fruit attractive as a natural source of calcium supplementation for pregnant and lactating women as well as for children and the elderly.”
Osman. Chemical and Nutrient Analysis of Baobab (Adansonia digitata). Fruit and Seed Protein Solubility. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (2004) 59: 29-33.

“The baobab’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it valuable for a variety of applications in beverages, it has also proven to be an effective prebiotic ingredient.”
Gruenwald. Novel Botanical Ingredients for Beverages. Clinics in Dermatology (2009) 27: 210-216

“The integral antioxidant capacity of baobab fruit pulp was more than ten times higher than that of orange pulp.”
Vertuani et al. Antioxidant Capacity of Adansonia digitata Fruit Pulp and Leaves. Acta Phytotherapeutica (2002) 2: 86-90.

“It is very high in Vitamin C, up to 5000 parts per million.”
Sidibe et al. More on Baobab’s Homegrown Vitamin C. Agroforestry Today. (1998) 10 (4): 7-9.

“The flesh of baobab constitutes an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source also of calcium and thiamin.”
Wehemeyer. The Nutrient Composition of Some Edible Wild Fruits Found in the Transvaal. S.A. Medical Journal. (1966). 104: 1102

Diarra B (2006) Book review, Baobab – Adanonia digitata, M. Sidibe ́, J.T. Williams, International Centre for Underutilized Crops, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, 2002. Agricultural Systems 89, 478-481.

Obizoba IC & Anyika JU (1994) Nutritive value of baobab milk (gubdi) and mixtures of baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) and hungry rice, acha (Digitaria exilis) flours. Plants Foods Hum Nutr 46, 157-165.

Nour AA, Magboul BI & Kheiri NH (1980) Chemical composition of baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L). Trop Sci 22, 383-388.

Gebauer J, El-Siddig K & Ebert G (2002) Baobab (Adansonia digitata): a Review on a Multipurpose Tree with Promising Future in the Sudan. Gartenbauwissenschaft 67, 155- 160.

Odetokun SM (1996) The nutritive value of Baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata). Riv Ital Sost Grasse 73, 371-373.

Baobab Tree Facts

All baobab trees belong to the same genus Adansonia; there are 6 baobab tree species in Madagascar, two from Africa and one from Australia.

Baobab trees can be up to 36 feet in diameter and over 90 feet high

Baobab tree fruit weigh up to 1.5kg

Baobab trees can store up to 100,000 litres of water within their trunk.

 

Baobab trees can reach an age of 3,000 years.

Baobab trees flower at night, with their flowers pollinated by bats.

The Baobab Tree is known as the tree of life – providing food, water and shelter to humans and animals

Due to the huge trunk of the baobab tree they have been used as poachers hideouts, bars, prisons, post offices and even as a toilet.