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Baobab Powder | Benefits & Side Effects

Casey Walker
Writer and expert7 years ago
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Written by Christopher Tack

Baobab Benefits

Baobab is the hottest new super food on the health food market. This tree native to the hot and drier regions of tropical Africa, produces fruits which are jam packed with minerals and vitamins to the extent that it has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries (1). We will delve into this amazing plant here to explain to you how your nutrition plan and health may be boosted by baobab.

benefits of baobab

What Is Baobab? 


Also known as Adansonia digitata (L.) the baobab is a huge tree which can live for centuries. Interestingly, it is reported that each part of the plant is useful for health and wellness (2). Whether using the leaves is a soup, roasting the seeds and eating as a snack, or even making a drink from the pulp of the fruit; there are many ways to consume baobab.


Chemical examination of this superfood has shown that it is made up of various potentially bioactive ingredients, which include triterpenoids, flavonoids and phenol compounds (3).  Other studies have additionally shown that baobab also contains sterols and saponins (4). All of these various organic compounds are the underlying reasons for the health benefits seen with consuming this plant.

How Does Baobab Help You? 


Obviously, the quality of any baobab supplement can vary. Mostly this will be influenced by the age and provenance of the plant used, pre-treatment of the plant, storage conditions, and processing method (3). However, if the quality is assured you can expect a variety of positive health benefits from adding baobab to your nutritional regime.


#1 Benefits Of Baobab As An Anti-Oxidant


Due, in part, to its high levels of vitamin C, the fruit of the baobab tree has a well-documented capacity to work as an anti-oxidant (5-9). Consuming an anti-oxidant foodstuff or supplement can prevent oxidative stress from free radical molecules(8,10). This makes it a worthwhile addition to any diet.

Baobab specifically has been found to have the highest content of vitamin C of a variety of fruits (kiwi, orange, apple and strawberry) with up to 300mg per 100g. This is approximately 6 times the amount found in 100g of orange (5) showing the huge capacity of baobab fruit to work as an anti-oxidant.

vitamin c

 #2 Benefits Of Baobab As An Anti-Inflammatory


Anti-inflammatories are often used to counteract the negative effects of injury or illness by working to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. However, many people dislike taking anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. ibuprofen or nurofen) citing negative effects on the gastrointestinal system (11). The most common side effects being stomach pain, bloating and constipation.


The pulp of the baobab fruit has been shown to have similar anti-inflammatory properties as a strong anti-inflammatory called phenylbutazone (12). This particular drug was previously used with people with rheumatoid arthritis, which is disease characterised by joint inflammation. However, subsequently its use in humans was discontinued, although it remains used by veterinarians. Specifically, the use of 800mg of per kg of bodyweight of baobab pulp is seen to be equally effective as 15mg per kg of phenylbutazone; with the benefits being ascribed to its high content of the natural compounds sterols, saponins and triterpenes (9).

#3 Benefits Of Baobab To Reduce Fever


A mash containing dried baobab tree bark has been suggested to have been used widely across Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies to treat fever (9,13). As such both the fruit and seeds are widely used as anti-pyretic agents (12-13). For example, baobab fruit pulp has been shown to reduce elevated body temperature by 1.94°C and shows similar effect as a usually administered anti-pyretic drug, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) (12). This benefit shows the significant effect consuming this superfood can have on fever should you be unwell.

causes of joint pain

# 4 Other Benefits Of Baobab 


The reams of scientific research investigating this super fruit demonstrate that the positive effects of baobab do not stop here. It has been found that baobab extract also as anti-microbial (15-16) and anti-viral medicinal properties (3, 17). It is little wonder then why tribes throughout history have acclaimed this fruit for having such beneficial properties for their health.

Baobab Side Effects And Safety


There is some suggestion in the scientific literature that baobab can contain some potential anti-nutrients in its dried fruit pulp. These are cyanide (19) and organic acids (20). However, in both cases it has been subsequently shown that these are below the level of detection (21-22). Additionally, it is also suggested that the oil of baobab seeds contain cyclopropene fatty acids which can negatively effect fatty acid synthesis (23-24). However, the use of baobab seed oil has shown no ill effects in humans as when the oils is cooked the negative components (malvalic and sterculic acid) are destroyed (25).

It is apparent then that despite some scientific concerns regarding its consumption, baobab is actually free of side effects and toxicity issues.

protein powders



Most (if not all) studies have demonstrated health benefits of baobab extract at a dosage of 800mg per kg of the consumers bodyweight for anti-disease benefits. The daily requirement is likely to be around 23g of powder per day for optimal health.

Take Home Message


Often with super foods the degree of smoke generated in popular media far exceeds the fire. Baobab is not one of these examples. This fruit (even extracted and used as a supplement) can provide real benefits through its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic capabilities which can leave you healthier and less prone to disease. Certainly this shows that baobab is a good choice of a new super food or supplement to add to your daily nutrition plan.

  1. FAO (1988). Traditional food plants. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome, 24: 63-67.
  2. Igboeli LC, Addy EOH, Salami LI (1997). Effects of some processing techniques on the antinutrient contents of baobab seeds (Adansoniadigitata). Biores. Technol., 59: 29-31.
  3. Chadare FJ, Linnemann AR, Hounhouigan JD, Nout MJR, Van Boekel MAJS (2009). Baobab Food Products: A Review on their Composition and Nutritional Value. Critic. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr., 49: 254-274.
  4. Masola SN, Mosha RD, Wambura PN (2009). Assessment of antimicrobial activity of crude extracts of stem and root barks from Adansonia digitata (Bombacaceae) (African baobab). Afr. J. Biotechnol., 8: 5076-5083.
  5. Vertuani S, Braccioli E, Buzzoni V, Manfredini S (2002). Antioxidant capacity of Adansonia digitata fruit pulp and leaves. Acta Phytotherapeutica, 86: 2-7.
  6. Besco E, Braccioli E, Vertuani S, Ziosi P, Brazzo F, Bruni R, Sacchetti G, Manfredini S (2007). The use of photochemiluminescence for the measurement of the integral antioxidant capacity of baobab products. Food Chem., 102: 1352-1356.
  7. Lamien-Meda A, Lamien CE, Compaoré MMY, Meda RNT, Kiendrebeogo M, Zeba B, Millogo JF (2008). Polyphenol content and antioxidant activity of fourteen wild edible fruits from Burkina Faso. Molecules, 13: 581-594.
  8. Blomhoff R, Carlsen M, Halvorsen B, Holte K, Bohn S, Dragland S, Sampson L, Willey C, Senoo H, Umezono Y, Sanada C, Barikmo I, Berhe N, Willett W, Phillips K, Jacobs D (2010). The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutr. J., 9: 3.
  9. Brady O (2011). The characterization and bioactivity determination of Adansonia digitata L. fruit pulp, for commercial product development. Thesis of bachelor of Science in Nutraceuticals for Health and Nutrition Dublin Institute of Technology, Cathal Brugha Street, 117 p.
  10. Kaur C, Kapoor HC, (2001). Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. Int. J. Food Sci. Technol., 36: 703-725
  11. Bjarnason, I., Hayllar, J., Macpherson, A.J. and Russell, A.S., 1993. Side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on the small and large intestine in humans. Gastroenterology, 104(6), pp.1832-1847.
  12. Ramadan A, Harraz FM, El-Mougy SA (1993). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effects of the fruit pulp of Adansoniadigitata. Fitoterapia, 65: 418-422
  13. Wickens GE, Lowe P (2008). The Baobabs: Pachycauls of Africa, Madagascar and Australia, Springer.
  14. Al-Qarawi AA, Al-Damegh MA, El-Mougy SA (2003). Hepatoprotective Influence of Adansonia digitata Pulp. J. Herbs Spices Med. Plants, 10: 1-6
  15. Afolabi OR, Popoola TOS (2005). The effects of baobab pulp powder on the micro flora involved in tempe fermentation. Eur. Food Res. Technol., 220: 187-190.
  16. Yagoub S (2008). Antimicrobial activity of Tamarindus indica and Adansonia digitata extracts against E. coli isolated from urine and water specimens. Res. J. Microbiol., 3: 193-197.
  17. Vimalanathan S, Hudson JB (2009). Multiple inflammatory and antiviral activities in Adansonia digitata (Baobab) leaves, fruits and seeds. J. Med. Plants Res., 3: 576-582.
  18. Tal-Dia A, Toure K, Sarr O, Sarr M, Cisse MF, Garnier P, Wone I (1997). A baobab solution for the prevention and treatment of acute dehydration in infantile diarrhoea. Dakar Med., 42: 68-73.
  19. Ghani, A; Abejule, A; (1 986) A pharmacognostic study of the fruits of Adansonia digitata L. In The state of medicinal plants research in Nigeria (1 st edition). Ibadan University press, Ife, Nigeria.
  20. Airan, TW; Desai, RM; (1954) Sugars and organic acids in Adansonia digitata L. Journal of the University of Bombay 22 pp 23 - 27.
  21. FDA (2008) Phyto Trade Africa:  Baobab Dried Fruit Pulp A GRAS Notification for use as a food ingredient in fruit bars and fruit smoothies. (
  22. Cao, JM; Blond, JP; Bezard, J; (1993) Inhibition of fatty acid delta 6 and delta 5 desaturation by cyclopropene fatty acids in rat liver microsomes. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1210 pp 24 - 34.
  23. Cao, JM; Gresti, J; Blond, JP; Bezard, J; (1996) Effects of cyclopropenoid fatty acids on the fatty acid profile of lipids from different tissues in the rat. Journal of Food Lipids 3 pp 73 - 86.
  24. Aitzetmuller, K; (1996) Letter to the editor: Intended use of Mulvales Seed Oils in novel food formulations-a warning. Journal of the American Oil Chemistry Society 73 (12) pp 1737 - 1738.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Casey Walker
Writer and expert
View Casey Walker's profile
Casey Walker is an experienced sports nutrition new product development technologist. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Exercise Science and a Master of Science in Sports Sciences and Physiology. Casey’s scientific research area of expertise lies in the effects of dietary nitrates on sprint performance and exercise-induced muscle damage. He has also worked as a sports scientist for a medal-winning Paralympic track cyclist, with a goal of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Find out more about Casey’s experience here: In his spare time, Casey is a keen middle-distance runner with an interest in triathlon. He’s always looking out for the latest blends and supplements to improve his half-marathon time and recovery.