Baobab industry welcomes study linking the fruit to good gut health
The research, conducted by Ghent University in Belgium, found Baobab fruit fibre is as powerful a prebiotic as inulin, which has been shown to stimulate the growth of the beneficial probiotic bacteria, but at half the dose.
Despite abundant commercial claims on the health effects of baobab, scientific data to support this are scarce. “To our knowledge, this is the first evidence demonstrating the potential of baobab fruit pulp powder to modulate the human gut microbiota,” the authors of the study wrote. They added the findings strongly support further research toward the potential of baobab fruit pulp powder as a prebiotic substrate.
“This study supports further research toward the prebiotic potential of baobab fruit pulp powder and other pectin-based products, as well as their potential health-promoting effects,” they said.
The research findings were cheered by UK botanical extract manufacturer Blue Sky Botanics, which has launched what it claims is the world’s first organic baobab fruit purée.
Baobab is a tree that grows in Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. Baobab fruit occurs naturally as a dry powder as plant’s fruit pods dehydrate and harden on the branches throughout the dry season. It is thought that this process of dehydration naturally concentrates the nutrients in the pods, producing one of the most nutrient-dense fruits on the planet. Baobab is claimed to be a very rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and fibre.
Baobab Fruit Powder is known as the African Superfruit due to its nutrient-dense and exceptionally high dietary fibre content, said Blue Sky Botanics, adding: “There are approximately 36,000 plant species which naturally contain inulin fiber, the most abundant source being chicory root. But there is a new kid on the block that may soon be challenging inulin as the most potent prebiotic fibre source.”
The company claimed that the Ghent University finding is supported by multiple studies into the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania who consume large amounts of Baobab Fruit throughout the year. These studies found that the Hadza have one of the most diverse gut microbiomes on the planet, and researchers have suggested that this is due to the high soluble fibre content in their diet.
While baobab fruit occurs naturally as a raw powder, this can be a challenge when it comes to formulation, said Blue Sky Botanics. “The hydrophobic nature of Baobab Powder makes blending into liquid formulations on an industrial scale both challenging and time-consuming without specialist mixing equipment. Baobab Fruit Purée eliminates these challenges as the mechanical forces needed to incorporate the powder smoothly and consistently into a solution have already been applied”, said Caroline Brevitt, Managing Director of Blue Sky Botanics.
“We love the fact that Baobab Fruit comes as a 100% natural raw powder without needing to be processed or modified. But there are times when a formulation calls for a liquid ingredient and we have had many customers ask if we could supply Baobab in this format. The good news is we now have a solution”.
Head of Food and Beverage Division for Blue Sky Daniel Jones added that baobab boasts more dietary fibre than rival fruits. “Consumers and product developers are increasingly aware of dietary fiber’s multiple health benefits particularly with the gut microbiome, but most fruit purées fall short in their ability to deliver on fiber content. Our Baobab Fruit Purée contains over 11g/100g of total dietary fibre, several times more than other fruit purées”, says Daniel Jones, Head of Food and Beverage Division for Blue Sky.
A Pectin-Rich, Baobab Fruit Pulp Powder Exerts Prebiotic Potential on the Human Gut Microbiome In Vitro