Baobab Fruit Is About to Be Everywhere — and for Good Reason

If you've started seeing baobab powder as an ingredient in more and more products, you're not alone. Find out what makes this fruit so special, according to nutrition experts.

The next time you're at the grocery store, you might want to keep an eye out for baobab. With its impressive nutrient profile and delightfully tangy flavor, the fruit is on its way to becoming the go-to ingredient for juices, cookies, and more. But what is baobab, exactly — and is all the buzz legit? Read on to learn about all the baobab benefits, its many different forms (i.e. baobab powder), and how to use it at home.

What Is Baobab?

Native to Africa, baobab is actually a tree that produces large, brown-yellow, oval-shaped fruits, which are also referred to as baobab. Baobab fruit pulp (which is powdery and dry) is generally used to make juice, snacks, and porridge, according to Scientific Reports. It can also be further dehydrated into a powder, called baobab flour. And while the seeds and leaves are also edible, the pulp (both fresh and powered) is the real star when cracking open and chowing down on one of these bad boys.

Baobab Nutrition

Baobab fruit pulp is packed with vitamin C and polyphenols, plant compounds with antioxidant properties, according to research published in the journal Molecules. It's also a stellar source of minerals — such as magnesium, calcium, and iron — along with fiber, an essential nutrient for healthy bowel movements, blood cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control. In fact, 100 grams of baobab powder (which, again, is made from baobab fruit pulp) offers 44.5 grams of fiber, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. (

Check out the nutritional profile of 100 grams of baobab powder, according to the USDA:

  • 250 calories
  • 4 grams protein
  • <1 gram fat
  • 80 grams carbohydrate
  • 44.5 grams fiber

Baobab Health Benefits

If you're new to baobab, it might be time to add it to your wellness routine. Let's dive into the health benefits of baobab fruit pulp (and therefore, the powder), according to research and registered dietitians.

Supports Digestive Health

ICYMI: Baobab fruit is chock full of fiber. This includes insoluble fiber, which doesn't dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation by increasing gut motility and bulking up the stool, according to Alison Acerra, M.S., R.D.N., registered dietitian and founder of Strategic Nutrition Design. The fiber in baobab also acts as a prebiotic, aka "food" for good bacteria in the gut, notes Acerra. This stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria, helping prevent gut dysbiosis, an imbalanced gut microbiome. This is key because gut dysbiosis can trigger symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, cramps, and abdominal pain, according to Colorado State University. It's also the root cause for various GI conditions, including small intestine bowel overgrowth (SIBO), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), says Acerra.

Increases Satiety

Want to kick hanger to the curb? A 2017 study found that baobab can boost satiety thanks to its high fiber content. Here's why: fiber reduces hunger by absorbing water in the gastrointestinal tract, which increases the volume of food matter in your stomach, explains registered dietitian nutritionist Annamaria Louloudis, M.S., R.D.N. "It also takes longer to pass through the gastrointestinal tract," which helps you feel full for a long time. Not only can this help control hunger on busy days, but it can aid healthy weight loss and management, too. (

Staves Off Chronic Diseases

Baobab offers a generous dose of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals (harmful molecules that can lead to cell and tissue damage), according to findings published in the journal Nutrients. This helps combat oxidative stress, which in excess can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

And get this: 100 grams of baobab powder boasts approximately 173 milligrams of vitamin C. That's about two times the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C of 75 milligrams for non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding women. (FWIW, the serving size of most baobab powders is about 1 tablespoon or 7 grams; so if you do the math, 1 tablespoon of baobab powder has about 12 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about one-sixth of the RDA of vitamin C.)

Controls Blood Sugar

Thanks to all that fiber, baobab can also lend a hand in managing blood sugar. Since fiber moves slowly through the gastrointestinal tract, it also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates from the rest of your meal, says Louloudis. (In fact, a study in Nutrition Research found that baobab fruit extract can do just that.) This may help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent those dreaded post-meal energy crashes, explains Louloudis. In the long term, the regulating effects of fiber can help you avoid the complications of frequent blood sugar spikes, including "metabolic issues such as diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, and high blood pressure," adds Acerra. (

Supports Immune System

As a fruit high in vitamin C, baobab may help keep your immune system in check. And while experts haven't specifically studied the link between baobab and immunity, there's ample evidence to back up the role of vitamin C in immune function. The nutrient enhances the proliferation (i.e., multiplication) of lymphocytes or white blood cells that make antibodies and destroy harmful cells, according to findings published in the journal Nutrients. Vitamin C also helps synthesize collagen, which is key for proper wound healing. Plus, as mentioned earlier, it has antioxidant properties; this protects healthy cells from damage due to oxidative stress which can lead to chronic conditions.

How to Use and Eat Baobab

In the United States, baobab is still somewhat of a new kid on the block, so you may not find fresh, whole baobab fruit on your next supermarket jaunt. Instead, you're more likely to find it in a ready-to-eat powder form, says Cordialis Msora-Kasago, M.A, R.D.N., registered dietitian and founder of The African Pot Nutrition.

You can find baobab powder in tubs or bags — i.e. KAIBAE Organic Baobab Fruit Powder (Buy It, $25, amazon.com)— such as at natural food stores, African or international supermarkets, or online or as an ingredient in packaged foods — i.e. VIVOO Energy Fruit Bite with Baobab (Buy It, $34 for 24 bites, amazon.com) such as juices, bars, and snacks. Occasionally, you might also find a packaged product with actual baobab fruit pulp, such as Powbab Baobab Superfruit Chews (Buy It, $16 for 30 chews, amazon.com). Either way, thanks to its impressive nutrient profile and fiber content, baobab is becoming more common in packaged products, says Louloudis — so there's a good chance you'll start seeing more of it in the grocery aisle.

On that note, when shopping for baobab powder or packaged goods, there are a few things to keep in mind. When it comes to the powder or flour, the product should only list one ingredient: baobab fruit powder, according to Louloudis. Avoid any products with added sugars and sugar alcohols, which can cause gastrointestinal distress, advises Acerra. (Tip: Sugar alcohols often end in "-ol," like mannitol, erythritol, and xylitol.)

If you're lucky enough to get your hands on whole baobab fruit, you'll be glad to know that it has an impressive shelf life of about two years, according to Msora-Kasago. But heads up — you'll need to put in some elbow grease to eat it. "Baobab comes in a hard shell that protects the actual edible fruit," explains Msora-Kasago. And often, this shell can't be opened with a knife, so it's common for people to throw the fruit against a hard surface or use a hammer to crack it open, she says. Inside, you'll find clusters of powdery fruit chunks tangled in an inedible, stringy, wood-like web. Each chunk contains a seed. You can pick one out, suck on the pulp, then discard the seed, says Msora-Kasago. (If you're looking for a new fruit that's a little bit easier to start experimenting with — read: no hammer needed — then check out papaya or mango.)

As for the taste? The flavor of fresh baobab and baobab powder is sweet, tart, and tastes like grapefruit mixed with vanilla, according to Michigan State University. (BRB, drooling.) Needless to say, if you're looking to add a citrus-y flavor or extra nutrients to your homemade concoctions, baobab might be your gal. Here's how to use baobab fruit pulp and powder at home:

As a drink. The simplest way to enjoy baobab powder is in the form of a refreshing drink. Mix 1 or 2 tablespoons into a glass of cold water, juice, or iced tea. Sweeten with honey or agave, if you'd like, then drink up. (And thanks to its impressive potassium content, baobab powder might also help deliver electrolytes and ample hydration when mixed into a drink.)

In pancakes. Make a fiber-packed brunch spread with a batch of baobab pancakes. Simply take your go-to pancake recipe and replace half the flour with baobab powder, suggests Louloudis. Alternatively, use the fresh pulp and make these baobab fruit pancakes from the food blog Zimbo Kitchen.

In baked goods. "You can also use baobab [powder] in baked goods such as muffins and banana bread for a nutrient boost," notes Louloudis. Add one tablespoon to the batter or try these vegan baobab muffins by food blog Plant Based Folk. The powder can also be used as a substitute for cream of tartar in baked goods, notes Msora-Kasago.

As a topping. Add baobab fruit pulp or powder onto oatmeal, waffles, fruit, cereal, ice cream, or yogurt. Acerra is all about mixing baobab powder into yogurt bowls with fresh berries and gluten-free granola.

In smoothies. Elevate your fave smoothie recipe with one or two tablespoons of baobab powder or a handful of fruit pulp (without the seeds). The tart flavor will taste amazing in tropical concoctions, such as a mango papaya coconut smoothie.

As a thickener. Need to thicken a sauce or soup sans gluten? Try baobab flour, recommends Acerra. Start with one teaspoon and gradually add more as needed. The sweet, tangy flavor would work especially well in a BBQ sauce for shredded BBQ seitan. (ICYDK, seitan is a protein-packed, plant-based meat that's perfect for vegan, vegetarians, and everyone in between.)

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