Ancient fruit answer to modern health woes?

It’s amazing that traditional cultures know the nutritional and medicinal benefits of plant ingredients.

What’s even more amazing is they have known the powerful influences of plants long before the need for the type of scientific research that modern medicine requires.

Still, it is good to know that there are powerful plant medicines that have the backing of both traditional and modern medicine alike.

And the baobab tree is probably one such plant medicine you hear very little about, at least in the states…

In legend, the baobab tree, also known as the boab, boaboa, tabaldi, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree, is commonly termed as the “Tree Of Life” – the word baobab literally meaning “the time when man began.”

Found predominantly in Africa and Australia, we’ve all seen images of their extraordinary grandeur, the trees having deep spiritual significance for many tribes. What most of us are unaware of is the medicine this tree beholds — both in its leaves and in the fruit it bears.

Resembling a gourd and hosting sinewy fibers, oil-rich seeds and a dry powdery nutrition-packed pulp, local tribes have been consuming the sweet, tangy, pear-like-flavored fruit for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They also eat the incredibly nutritious leaves, which provide an edible vegetable that resembles spinach when cooked.

Women in the tribes along the Limpopo believed the baobab leaves consumed in a soup increased their fertility. Doctors have since confirmed that this is true.

Other traditional uses for the leaves include treating kidney and bladder diseases, relieving asthma, and treating insect bites. Traditional uses of the fruit include treating a wide variety of stomach conditions, fevers, malaria, aches and pains, arthritis, and hangovers.

With all these supposed benefits, it comes as no surprise that the baobab fruit has been hailed as a modern ‘superfood’ — being shown in research to be a ‘complete’ nutrient dense food.

As a plant medicine, take a look at its properties:

Protein 2.6 percent – The amino acid profile compares to that of an ‘ideal’ protein, which you don’t find much in plant sources. These amino acids include valine (5.9 percent), phenylalanine + tyrosine (9.6 percent), isoleucine (6.3 percent), lysine (5.7 percent), arginine (8.5 percent), threonine (3.9 percent), cysteine + methionine (4.8 percent), tryptophan (1.5 percent).

Fat 0.2 percent – containing mostly oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, that has extremely potent anti-inflammatory abilities. The seeds contain even larger quantities of these medicinal fats.

Pectin 52 percent – a soluble fiber – meaning it can aid constipation, being an incredibly effective natural laxative.

Fiber 5.7 percent – mostly soluble as outlined above.

Along with:

  • Vitamin C – 300 mg
  • Iron – 8.6 mg
  • Calcium – 655 mg
  • Phosphorus – 50.8 mg

Because of the balance of nutrients the baobab provides, the World Health Organization now uses the powder in third world countries to help undernourished children rehydrate and gain nourishment!

For you, the powder can be purchased from health food stores or places like Amazon. Add it to cereals, soups, or stews. Or add the baobab superfood powder to one of Kelley’s 7 delicious smoothie recipes.

  1. Baobab — (2017). Retrieved 15 June, 2017
  2. Yazzie D, et al. The Amino Acid and Mineral Content of Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) Leaves. — Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 1994;7(3):189-193.
  3. Osman MA. Chemical and Nutrient Analysis of Baobab (Adansonia digitata) Fruit and Seed Protein Solubility. — Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2004;59(1):29-33.
  4. Arumugam, N. (2011). The Superfruit That’s Truly Super: Baobab Boosts Health, Poor African Families & Gin — Forbes. Retrieved 15 June, 2017
  5. Image courtesy Steve Jurvetson
Jedha Dening

By Jedha Dening

Jedha Dening is a qualified nutritionist (MNutr), researcher, author, freelance writer, and founder of type 2 diabetic nutrition site Diabetes Meal Plans. Her masters thesis on nutrition and inflammation was published and then presented at a national scientific conference. She has millions of words published in the health industry across various print and online publications. Having been in the field for over 15 years, she’s incredibly passionate about delving into the latest research to share the myths and truths surrounding nutrition and health. She believes when armed with the right knowledge, we’re empowered to make informed choices that can truly make a difference.