Healthy Helpings: Should you baobab today?

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that dried baobab fruit pulp was generally recognized as safe for use as an ingredient in fruit drinks up to 10 percent and fruit bars up to 15 percent.

This means that 10 grams of baobab fruit is the maximum amount allowed in a 100-gram smoothie, and about 7 grams in a cereal bar.
Ten grams of baobab fruit pulp contains five grams of fiber, 12.5 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake for Vitamin C, 4 percent of the RDI for potassium, 5 percent of the RDI for iron for women, 12.5 percent of the RDI for iron for men and 2 percent of the RDI for calcium.

Baobab tree

The fruit pulp can have more Vitamin C than an orange and exceeds the calcium content of cow’s milk. It also contains carbohydrates in the form of sugars, as well as minimal protein and minimal fat.
But is there a drawback to consuming foods containing baobab fruit pulp or a baobab fruit supplement?
The fruit produced by the baobab tree — also known as the bottle tree, upside-down tree or monkey tree — has long been a staple in the diet of people living in Africa. Since 2008, there has been increasing interest for developing baobab as a raw material for consumer products.
Three food manufacturing companies now have products containing baobab fruit on the market, either in the form of supplements or as an ingredient in food bars or smoothies, and they claim the baobab fruit is the “King of Superfruits.”
So let’s look at baobab fruit. The baobab fruit is a large gourd-shaped fruit that contains a soft, powdery pulp and kidney-shaped seeds. Traditionally it was eaten as a sweet, consumed as a refreshing drink or used as an alternative to cream of tartar in recipes.
Traditional uses of the whole fruit outside of Africa are rare, as the pulp has to be dried and processed into a fine powder to be exported.
Due to its high fiber content, baobab fruit pulp may have a laxative effect. The five grams of fiber in 10 grams of fruit pulp are comparable to the amount of fiber in a single dose of psyllium taken as a laxative. The FDA does not presently regulate supplements (but it’s coming), so there is no guarantee that a capsule of dried baobab fruit pulp contains the amount of pulp or fiber indicated on the label.
So what’s the bottom line on baobab fruit? Consumer Lab identifies that its high fiber content, nutritional content and antioxidant properties may make it an attractive addition to one’s diet. But specific health claims have not been established, and consuming moderate to large amounts has a potential laxative effect.

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