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. Baobab is very common here in nigeria, but many people dont know its health benefit, they sell the powdee mostly in schools as candy to children and we make drinks and use the leafs for cooking, glad i came across this. Now i need to know how to export this powder and make some money, lol!😄 Coz its plenty here.

    1. Really interesting to hear your experience with baobab powder. There are lots of companies selling it here in the UK so I believe the market is quite competitive.

  2. Very interesting! This is what our parents in the rural communities in Ghana used to feed us when we were young. We were always healthy even though raised in poor homes. God is so kind.

    This is very motivating to start a project to preserve these trees and foster collaborations for livelihood creation within our rural communities.

    1. So you were lucky to have this as a child, good to hear it kept you healthy, so it does work!

  3. There are two types of baobab – sugar and salt like type. So you can choose whatever you want if you are the type that does not like natural sugar.

  4. AISHA ,good to know baobab stuff is readily available around you.l am in eastern nigeria and need you to supply the powder , oil and lives across.thanks. from Sop.

  5. Hey everyone, am from india and there is no shipping to india @ Amazon.co. Kindly help me which is the best brand i can buy apart from minvita and which has shipping to india.

  6. Hi, I have a nearly a full packet of organic baobab powder left but it’s past it’s best before date (March 2017)
    Is it still safe to use? And how long is it good for past this date?
    Thank you

    1. I am not sure I can give you a good advice on this but from my experience I’ve used baobab powder longer that it was recommended after opening it. It was recommended to use it within 3 months after you open it but I used it past that. As it is a powder and dry I don’t think it will become harmful after a while. I think the worst it can happen is that some nutrients will get lost.

    1. No, I don’t think that’s the case. Baobab powder contains vitamin C and this should actually HELP with wrinkles.

  7. I’ve never heard of this Baobab fruit but it really looks good. I hope i could try this but I don’t think I would be able to ship it to my country.

  8. I tried Baobab powder in yogurt for the first time and I had severe bloating and stomach pain. Has anyone else experienced this and if so did you try it again? I really want this to work for me but I’m afraid to try again. 😔

    1. Hi Erika, this is very unusual as baobab is known to have no toxicity or safety concerns, basically there shouldn’t be any side effects using it. Are you sure it was baobab and not the yogurt? Have you ever had any issues with dairy products? Was it a plain yogurt? How much of baobab powder did you use? (hopefully not too much!) Did you eat anything else on the day that could give you these issues?
      I personally haven’t had any issues with it whatsoever but I know everybody is different.

  9. I own a couple of Baobab trees in my farm in Nigeria. I eat the pulp all the time and enjoy the rich cream feel in my mouth. The nursing women from the community, where the farm is, use the fruit both for themselves,their babies and children. With regards to dosage, I can crack a small baobab open and eat half of the pod and I have never had any issues (should make sense since it is natural and harvested straight from the wild). The only thing you should be mindful of is the fact that it makes your teeth somewhat sensitive if you consume too much at a time.

    1. That’s amazing! Thanks for confirming that baobab is safe when breastfeeding and even for babies and children. I didn’t know that it can make your teeth more sensitive. I will keep that in mind for the future.

  10. A very informative article on Baobab fruit, its benefits and uses. Thank you for this as well as some interesting facts like it having more calcium than milk.