Baobab Powder: Benefits, Nutrition, Side Effects and More

Baobab tree
Baobab tree

Editor’s note: This is one of the most popular posts on Be Healthy Now blog and has been originally published in February 2015. This has been republished to benefit new readers who may have missed this post.

Have you heard of baobab before? Maybe you’ve heard of baobab fruit powder or baobab oil? I found out about baobab when I got contacted by Minvita who offered me to try their baobab fruit powder. I was really curious about it so I decided to give it a go. Since then I learnt a lot about baobab health benefits, baobab nutrition and even baobab side effects. Here is where I share my findings with you:

Quick navigation:
How is baobab fruit powder made?
Baobab fruit powder nutrition
What does baobab powder taste like?
Baobab fruit powder health benefits
Baobab fruit powder side effects
How to use baobab powder
Is baobab powder good for you?
Can baobab powder help you lose weight?
Where can you buy baobab fruit pulp powder from?

What is baobab?

Baobab tree or so-called ‘the tree of life’ is native to Africa, but it’s also found in Australia and India. It’s a massive tree that can grow up to 20 meters tall and about 15 meters wide. It is one of the longest living trees on earth and there is evidence that some baobab trees have lived for over 2,000 years, while other reports indicate trees that may have lived in excess of 3,000 years.

Various parts of the tree can be used for different purposes: its bark can be turned into rope and clothing, fresh leaves can be eaten to boost the immune system and of course, there’s an edible baobab fruit pulp with many health benefits. The fruit pulp has been used in Africa for different kind of health issues for a long time.

baobab fruit

The baobab fruit pulp has become available in the UK in 2008 when it won approval from EU food regulators.

How is baobab fruit powder made?

Baobab powder is made from baobab fruit which naturally dehydrates on baobab tree.
During the harvest, all the suitable fruits are handpicked and their hard shells are cracked open to reveal dried fruit pulp which is then separated from seeds and ground into a powder. This process is not complicated and does not require any heating so all the nutrients are preserved. The final product is 100% natural with nothing added to it.

Baobab fruit powder nutrition

Baobab fruit powder contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. Gram per gram it contains six times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much calcium as milk and even more iron than red meat. It is also rich in potassium and has plenty of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants. What’s more, the fruit pulp is rich in soluble fibre and it has more fibre than other fruits such as apples, peaches and apricots.

Minvita baobab fruit powder

I can see this powder great for vegetarians or vegans as its vitamin C will aid iron absorption in various foods. Although the calcium content in 2 teaspoons wouldn’t be massive, it would still contribute towards the recommended daily allowance, something particularly important for vegans as they don’t eat dairy products.

Baobab fruit powder taste

Before I tried baobab powder I was slightly concerned that I may not like the taste but surprisingly it tastes really good. Not like some green powders which are actually disgusting (spirulina, for example).

This is what I really like about baobab powder – the taste is great, it’s a pleasant tangy, zingy flavour and something you can easily enjoy in your food or drinks. I would say it’s slightly sweet while at the same time kind of lemony. For this reason, it can be used in a variety of dishes and added to drinks as well. What’s not to love?

Baobab fruit powder health benefits

There are more studies needed to establish the exact health benefits of baobab fruit powder, but at the moment we know that it can help manage blood sugar levels by counteracting the negative sugar level spikes that come from eating carbohydrate-rich foods like white bread. (1) UPDATE 31.01.17: This means that when you eat baobab powder together with high GI foods you won’t get the usual sugar spike in your blood. This could be especially beneficial to those suffering from type 2 diabetes, however, consuming the baobab powder will not cure you of the condition.

Being high in antioxidants, baobab powder helps to eliminate free radicals that can contribute to cancer, ageing, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. As it’s rich in various vitamins and minerals it may contribute towards improved general health and well-being. However, there may not be much effect on your body if you take only small quantities of it or you take it only once in a while. The problem is that currently it is not very clear what the appropriate dose of baobab fruit powder should be but companies that sell it normally recommend 1-2 teaspoons a day.

If you are looking to increase the amount of calcium-rich foods you eat, then baobab powder is definitely something worth considering. Although you can find calcium in other foods such as sardines, broccoli, oranges and figs, some people still struggle to get enough calcium through their diet, especially because of their busy lifestyle and the amount of processed food they eat.

If you are a vegan or avoid dairy products, then you should especially pay more attention to your calcium intake. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and getting enough of it is important for the prevention of osteoporosis. Consuming baobab powder is an easy and more natural way of increasing your calcium intake (as opposed to taking supplements). In fact, some pregnant women in Africa consume baobab powder just for that reason.

Baobab fruit powder side effects

Many people wonder whether baobab powder is actually safe and whether there are any side effects.

Alternative medicine expert, Cathy Wong points out that ‘while baobab is generally considered safe, little is known about the safety of long-term use of supplements containing baobab.’ (2) Cathy also mentions that ‘the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Baobab fruit powder and pregnancy

It’s worth mentioning that baobab fruit pulp has been actually consumed by pregnant women and children in Senegal due to its calcium content. A study of pregnant women in Gambia reported that eating the fruit pulp in season (December to April) without the seeds once a day, contributed 30mg/day calcium to the diet. (3)

No known toxicity of baobab powder

The results of a questionnaire administered to people attending the PhytoTrade Africa AGM were that there are no known toxicity or safety concerns with the consumption of Baobab fruit products. (3)

There has been no evidence or reports about allergenic effects caused by direct consumption of baobab fruit pulp.

How to use baobab powder

There are several different ways of how you can use baobab powder and here is what I do with it:

  • mix it into a porridge
  • add it to muesli
  • add it to the smoothie
  • use it in herbal tea instead of lemon (good decision, great taste!)
  • mix it with yoghurt and had it as a snack
  • add it to a sauce to thicken it (it works due to high pectin content)
  • make baobab pancakes
Baobab porridge with blueberries, almond butter and natural yoghurt
Baobab porridge with blueberries, almond butter and natural yoghurt
Baobab powder can be added to herbal tea and used instead of lemon
Baobab powder can be added to herbal tea and used instead of lemon

I read somewhere that you could even use it in baba ganoush but also in your baking if you like, and in any other ways, you can think of. It’s so versatile and this is what I really love about it.

Is baobab powder good for you?

I see baobab powder as one of the most natural ways to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet. This is better than taking synthetic vitamins as natural foods are easier to absorb by your body. Just to keep in mind that baobab powder will make only a small contribution to your overall daily nutritional needs – a couple of tablespoons should make more difference than just having one teaspoon a day. So yes, baobab powder is good for you.

Baobab powder is a source of calcium

One of the reasons why I started consuming baobab powder was because I was slightly concerned that I may not be getting enough calcium as I wasn’t drinking cow’s milk. Calcium is important for healthy bones and for prevention of osteoporosis so we do need to try and make sure we get enough of it through our diet.

While it shouldn’t be too difficult to get enough calcium through your diet, certain people need a higher intake, for example, pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, it’s important to know that calcium won’t get absorbed by your body if you are not getting enough of vitamin D and certain minerals such as magnesium. Luckily, baobab powder does contain some magnesium.

Apart from dairy products, you can find calcium in other foods such as sardines, figs, broccoli, tahini, almonds and oranges. If you are looking to increase the amount of calcium-rich foods you eat, then baobab powder is definitely something worth considering. In fact, some pregnant women in Africa consume baobab powder just for that reason.

Baobab powder for vegetarians

If you are a vegetarian or vegan you may find baobab powder especially beneficial due to both, its calcium and iron content. It’s just another way of adding a proportion of the recommended daily dose of these essential minerals to your diet.

Are you eating enough vegetables and fruits?

Those of you who are not eating enough vegetables or fruits (maybe you don’t like them!) will really gain from consuming baobab powder daily as it will give you a good dose of vitamin C which is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system and important for healthy skin.

If you are extremely busy and under lots of stress your body needs extra vitamin C which you can get through your normal fruits and veg or you could decide to get this from baobab powder.

Remember, multivitamin tablets and various ‘superfoods’ cannot substitute a healthy and balanced diet. The first thing anybody who wants to be healthier, should do, is trying to improve their diet by introducing more fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks but also reduce the amount of processed foods they eat. So first, get your diet sorted and then see how you can improve it by introducing nutritionally-rich foods such as baobab (if needed).

Can baobab powder help you lose weight?

No, baobab powder on its own won’t help you lose weight. To lose weight, you need to do much more than just add some nutritionally-rich foods to your diet. You should also try to be more active, get enough sleep and drink plenty of water. All these will help you lose weight but baobab on its own won’t. For other weight loss tips, check out this post.

Where can I buy baobab fruit pulp powder from?

There are different companies selling baobab fruit powder such as Minvita (which I tried), Aduna and Organic Burst. Look for these companies in your local Holland and Barrett and see whether they stock their products, including baobab fruit powder. Alternatively, you can check Amazon UK or Amazon US to see whether they are doing any deals but make sure you buy organic and 100% pure baobab powder with nothing added to it.

Have you heard of baobab before? Have you used baobab fruit powder or baobab oil? What did you think of them?

References

(1) http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317(13)00188-7/abstract

(2) https://www.verywell.com/the-benefits-of-baobab-89414

(3) http://acnfp.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/mnt/drupal_data/sources/files/…

http://www.atacora.com/baobab-blog/bid/152356/The-Medicinal-Value-of-Baobab

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baobab

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/the-tree-of-life-and-its-super-fruit-869737.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7509077.stm

http://malawiproject.org/grotesquely-clawing-at-the-sky/

61 Comments

  1. Although I’ve heard of it I didn’t know anything about Baobab so this is really interesting. It sounds very nutritious

    1. I am glad you found it interesting! I didn’t know much about it before but I learnt a lot during my research. I think baobab fruit powder is great and I am definitely going to order it through Amazon.

    1. I am glad you found the post useful Besma and it’s good to see you already have a pot of baobab powder! Definitely a good decision!

  2. Super detailed post. I love baobab and use it mainly in smoothies and bircher muesli – I tend not to heat it as I think it loses some of the nutritional benefits. I’ve never tried the oil – I wonder if it can be eaten.

    1. Yes, I think it’s true, if you heat it up it probably does lose some value.
      I read that the baobab oil is only suitable for external use and it’s not intended for cooking or eating. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Ah, baobab powder is one of my wonder-products. Like you, I absolutely love the flavour! I was also blown away with how quickly it took effect on my energy levels. I’ve used both Organic Burst’s and Aduna’s now; will have to sample Minvita’s! I’m also now so intrigued to sample it as part of a topical hair and beauty regime, thanks to you Petra! xx

    1. It’s good to hear you are already using the baobab powder Gem, I think it’s definitely worth it. I wonder if there is any difference in flavour between different brands. I don’t think it should be though as the process is the same.
      There is so many different types of oils out there and baobab oil is definitely one to try. If you do try it, let me know how you got on!

  4. I’m from west Africa and I really love baobab fruit but I didn’t know it has all these benefits. I used to eat it everyday back in my country but when I mixed to the United States I couldn’t find it anywhere even online. In happy this fruit is getting the attention it deserves. I don’t think at the moment there is a non organic baobab tree in Africa as we do not use any chemicals to grow plants especially for trees like baobab tree, because they are sacred to us. I will definitely try these brands you mentioned. I usually have my mom shippevme few pots from Africa, but if I like one of these brands I will be saving some money :). Thank you so much for this article.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Aissatou! It’s so interesting to hear from a person who actually had baobab fruit available all the time. It’s good to know that no chemicals are used for growing these trees, so basically the baobab products you buy online don’t have to be certified organic..

  5. Hi Petra, I wanted to know what you thought of using the oil on your skin long term? Did you see a change? Did it help you stay moisturized? I had been using coconut oil however I never really saw it helping my skin long term. Turns out that it won’t after I did some research! So I’ve been looking for something else.
    Thanks in advance for your reply!
    JB

    1. Hi Jess, I actually don’t have any experience using baobab oil long term so I couldn’t say how it works for that, I only used a small sample to test it out. If you have issues with dry skin it’s always worth looking at your lifestyle and what you eat as this plays a big part in skin health. Make sure you get enough omega 3 in your diet and vitamins B – these nutrients really make difference in the way my skin looks, omega 3 especially (I supplement every day). Have you tried avocado oil yet? I heard it’s also good for moisturising skin.

      1. Hi, Thanks for the tips. I have not heard of the omega 3 helping with dry skin. I’m pregnant so I’ll ask my OB about it.

        1. You can find omega 3 fatty acids naturally in various foods (for example flaxseeds, walnuts and avocados) but if you want to supplement and you are pregnant you definitely need to check with your doctor. I supplement with vegetarian omega 3 oil as I don’t trust fish oils – there could be all kind of stuff in those so I don’t recommend them.

  6. I am on my second tub of Minvita. I put three teaspoons it in a bottle with a freshly squeezed lemon, topped with water ; well shaken! It’s a bit like a lemonade. My energy levels have definitely improved, I am actually quite amazed by it. The second tub of Minvita was quite a lot darker than the first. Is it usual to get variants in colour?

    1. Great to hear you are enjoying baobab powder and that it works for you! I need to try the way you drink it, I normally just add it to my breakfast muesli or porridge. I almost finished a third tub of Minvita baobab powder and I also found the colour varies. The first tub of Minvita was quite light in colour while the last one is much darker. I guess it’s normal for the colour to vary.

        1. Hi Donna, I couldn’t find anything about this in my research. I wondered the same. Companies who sell baobab powder normally recommend 1 or 2 teaspoons a day, this is a safe dose, they say. The recommended maximum is not known.

  7. Thank you for the wonderful piece. Baobab is very common in my area, we use the leaves (both fresh and dry) in soups. The fruits are used in yogurt and also used to make juices. I’ll take it regularly as I have low calcium levels.

  8. Love this powder use it every morning in my breakfast smoothie but is there a cause for concern because of the sugar content ???? Love to hear about this. Gloria

    1. It does contain quite a bit of sugar but you have to remember it’s natural sugars you are consuming, I wouldn’t really be concerned. If you consume one tablespoon of baobab powder a day, that’s nothing really.It won’t be much sugar in that. Getting all the good nutrients from baobab powder outweighs the fact that it’s slightly high in natural sugars. But at the end of the day, it’s a type of fruit and lots of fruits are quite high in natural sugars but they are still good for you. They contain various minerals and vitamins and fibre which helps your digestion. Just make sure you don’t consume too much fruits. Too much of a good thing could turn into a bad thing!

  9. Have it in kenya usually cooked adding red colour mostly consumed by children but i have this idea of using the powder as a fortifying agent on packaged food like wheat and flour etc is a good idea ?again anybody interested in the powder and oil i can help.

    1. I think baobab powder would go well with various cereals but not sure about adding it to flour. I think it will only be suitable for certain foods as it does have this citrusy flavour.

  10. Wooooo am very happy to know that the baobab i know since childhood have this great significant nutrients,God is great.

  11. Reading all the comments on baobab powder, I felt I had to add a comment. I drink it daily with either soya milk or fresh milk and honey. I also use baobab oil daily, which I have mixed with shea butter and I can honestly say my skin looks good and feels soft. In the very dry harmattan season my skin remains well moisturised.

    1. Thanks for your contribution Helen. I haven’t used baobab oil much but I did love the sample.It’s great to hear that it works really well for preventing dry skin!

  12. wow! Ammm glad to know that this fruit has such great nutritional benefits. I’ve also been having it since childhood and I just finished one few days ago. They are in season now and are plenty here in zambia. l’ll make sure to have enough of it using different recipes.

    1. Hi Amit. You can use baobab powder in various different ways as mentioned in the article, see the section ‘Minvita baobab superfruit powder review’.
      As mentioned in the article ‘baobab is generally considered safe, little is known about the safety of long-term use of supplements containing baobab.’ I hope that helps.

  13. after reading this article from uk i’m coming to kenya to start a packaging factory for this product

      1. Hi Petra,
        I have been using baobab power since childhood. It is plenty here in the gambia and very cheap. Almost everyone use it as a beverage. It is very common. We use it almost everyday with no side effects. It is very effective for flu. We also use the leaves in cooking. The tree is all over the country. I can even send you some where every you are just for no cost. You can hold the fruit fresh and just be eating it. This is my e-mail address. mensahka1@yahoo.com

        1. Hi Mary, thanks for your kind offer. It must be amazing to have baobab powder at your disposal all the time. I currently use Minvita’s baobab powder which I have plenty of at home.