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Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata L) Parts: Nutrition, Applications in Food and Uses in Ethno-medicine – A Review

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A Review Article on Adansonia dijitata (baobab)
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Citation: Zahra’u B, Mohammed AS, Ghazali HM and Karim R. Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata L) Parts:
Nutrition, Applications in Food and Uses in Ethno-medicine – A Review. Ann Nutr Disord & Ther. 2014;1(3): 1011.
Ann Nutr Disord & Ther - Volume 1 Issue 3 - 2014
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Annals of Nutritional Disorders & Therapy
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Full Text Article
Abstract
Baobab (Adansonia digitata) is a multi-purpose tree with tender root, tubers,
twigs, fruit, seeds, leaves and owers which are edible. Owing to the nutritional
and medicinal benets of baobab tree parts, it have been used for various
purposes for the past two centuries in Africa, and some parts of Asia. This has
in recent times led to some statutory bodies approving its use in certain food
products. This paper presents a review on the nutritional benets of the baobab
tree parts vis-à-vis its fruit pulp, seeds and leaves. In addition, the medicinal
applications of the tree parts as well as the medicinal compounds contained are
discussed. This paper nally concludes with the nutritional benets of the seed
oil for possible use as a premium oil.
Keywords: Adansonia digitata L; Baobab tree; Baobab leaves; Baobab fruit
pulp; Baobab seeds
and shing [3]. Every part of the baobab tree is reported to be useful
[10] cited in [11] and [3]. e baobab has an extensive root system
and high water holding capacity. Its mean annual temperature range
is 20–30°C, but it can tolerate well high temperatures up to 40–42°C
(in West Africa), it’s resistant to re, and survive low temperature
as long as there is no frost. It is drought tolerant and frost sensitive.
is adaptation allows it to grow in zones with 100–1000 mm annual
rainfall, but trees are oen stunted in the lower rainfall areas [12]. e
tender root, tubers, twigs, fruit, seeds, leaves and owers are all edible
and they are common ingredients in traditional dishes in rural areas
in Africa.
e fruit is said to have high vitamin C content 10 times that of
an orange, while leaves are high in mineral content and pro-vitamin
A. the oils extracted from the seeds are said to be edible due to the
fatty acid composition. Knowledge of all this properties is limited due
to the consumers and researchers. is paper will focus on review of
seeds, fruit pulp and leaves of Adansonia digitata L.
Applications of Baobab Tree Parts
Leaves
e leaves are staple food for many populations in Africa most
especially the central region of the continent [13,3]. In Malawi they are
boiled with potash [14]. In Zimbabwe, they provide fresh vegetables
that are substituted for the commercially grown leafy vegetables such
as cabbages and lettuce [15]. In the northern part of Nigeria, the
Hausas use the leaves for soup e.g. miyan kuka [13]. In Mali, the leaves
are called lalo and they are used in making sauce and they usually
mix it with seeds of Parkiabig lobosa, onion, okra, pepper, ginger,
sometimes meat, but more oen sh. e sauce is used with a thick
porridge made from millet, sorghum or maize, but also for couscous
and rice [16]. A survey in southern Mali regarding the use of baobab
leaves in both rural and urban areas was conducted by Nordeide [16].
Introduction
Africa has an abundant novel plant species which are known
to be rich in health-promoting compounds, many of which remain
undiscovered or unused by the western society [1]. e Baobab
(Adansonia digitata L.) is widely distributed throughout the sub-
Saharan Africa and Western Madagascar areas and has many uses,
such as medicine, food, and beverages [2,3]. e name Adansonia
digitata was given by Linnaeus, the generic name honouring Michel
Adanson who had been to Senegal in the eighteenth century and
described Baobab [4]. e history of the African baobab is well
documented in Baum [5]. Darwin documented baobab trees on
the St Jago in the Cape Verde Islands in 1832 and he commented
on their size and longevity [6]. Adansonia digitata L. is the most
widely spread of the Adansonia species on the African continent
which belongs to the family of Bombacaceae a sub family of the
Malvaceae. Adansonia species comprises of 8 dierent species with
large, spectacular, nocturnal owers [5]. One of these species is the
A. digitata L., it occurs throughout the drier parts of Africa. A second
species is restricted to North-Western Australia (A. gibbosa), and the
remaining six species are endemic to Madagascar [7]. e African
baobab is known by a very large number of local names: English
(Baobab, Monkey bread tree, Ethiopian sour gourd, Cream of tartar
tree, Senegal calabash fruit, Upside-down tree), French (pain de singe,
arbre aux calebasses), Portuguese (Cabaçevre), Arabic (Buhibab,
hamao-hamaraya, Habhab, Hamar, Tebeldi,), Afrikaans (Kremetart),
Hausa (Kuka), sotho (Seboi), tswana (Mowana), Tsonga (Shimuwu),
venda (Muvhuyu) (Burkill, 1985).
African baobab is a very long-lived tree with multipurpose uses. It
is thought that some trees are over 1000 years old. Since it is not grown
agronomical nor properly domesticated [8,9]. It has been introduced
to areas outside Africa and grown successfully. e tree provides
food, shelter, clothing and medicine as well as material for hunting
Review Article
Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata L) Parts: Nutrition,
Applications in Food and Uses in Ethno-medicine – A
Review
Zahrau Bamalli, Abdulkarim Sabo Mohammed*,
Hasanah Mohd Ghazali and Roselina Karim
Department of Food Science, Faculty of Food Science and
Technology, Universiti Putra, Malaysia
*Corresponding author: Abdulkarim SM, Department
of Food Science, Faculty of Food Science and Technology,
Universiti PutraMalaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor,
Malaysia, Tel: +603-8946 8537; Fax: +603-89423552;
Email: ak@food.upm.edu.my
Received: August 18, 2014; Accepted: September 29,
2014; Published: September 29, 2014
Austin
Publishing Group
A
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e result shows that out of over 100 rural households, 26% used
baobab leaves in the rainy season, and 56% in the dry season and out
of over 150 urban households, 6% used baobab leaves in the rainy
season and 13% in the dry season.
e leaves contain 13-15% protein, 60-70% carbohydrate, 4-10%
fat and around 11% bre and 16% ash [17]. Energy value varies from
1180-1900kJ/100g of which 80% is metabolized energy. e leaves are
rich in pro-vitamins A and C. In terms of protein content and WHO
standards, leaves of baobab can be rated ‘good’ in that they score well
for 5 of the 8 essential amino acids as shown in Table 1.
e highest level of pro-vitamin A was detected in young leaves
especially when used as dried material [20], expressed in retinol
equivalent it was between 9 and 27 mg/kg. Nordeide [16] recorded
that the level of pro-vitamin A was about one-third the content in
Amaranthus dried leaves. Becker [21] noted the absence of vitamin
C but a signicant content of vitamin B2. Scheuring [22] published
the analysis of dried leaf samples carried out by Homan-La Roche,
Switzerland, for pro-vitamin A (Table 2).
In terms of mineral content, baobab leaf is said to be an excellent
source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese,
molybdenum, phosphorus, and zinc [13]. A research was conducted
by [18] and he point out that baobab leaves have a high content of
iron compared to numerous other wild-gathered foods, and are a rich
source of calcium. Table 3 shows the mineral content of the baobab
leaf from Burkina Faso according to [18] and from Nigeria according
to [13].
e data of the research shows that in terms of both quality and
quantity, A. digitata leaf could serve as a signicant protein and
mineral source in the staple food of the local population. Several
plant parts of A. digitata have anti-oxidant, anti-inammatory
antimicrobial, anti-viral, ant-hepatotoxicity, anti-diarrhoeal, and
trypanocidal properties, and baobab leaf has been used extensively
since ancient times in traditional medicine.
Mucilage (Baobab leaves): Numerous foodstus in West Africa
are mucilaginous; this provides a desired slimy consistency to local
soups and stews. Woolfe et al., [23] in Ghana conducted a detailed
study of the mucilage produced from baobab leaves. e most
interesting feature about the leave mucilage was the high protein
and mineral content both in crude and puried mucilage. e
mucilage contains a very small amount of neutral sugars: rhamnose
and galactose. Uronic acid is present as a mixture of galacturonic
and glucuronic acids. e relatively high proportion of uronic acids
classies the mucilage as a galacturonorhamnan polysaccharide
which is acidic. e Viscosity depends on the mix of carbohydrates,
proteins and minerals in the mucilage and is lowered with cooking at
high temperatures. Nonetheless, baobab mucilage has great potential
as a thickening agent.e study by [23] on the Mucilage’s extracted
from okra fruits and baobab leaves conrm their role as eective
thickening agent.
Fruit pulp
e fruit pulp is one of the most important parts of the tree that
Amino acid composition Fruit pulp
(mg/g dry weight)
leaves
(mg/g dry weight) Seed
(mg/g dry weight) % of total protein WHO ideal
A* B**
Aspartic acid 2.96 10.3 12.9 21.1 -
Glutamic acid 3.94 13.4 11.4 48.9 -
Serine 1.18 4.7 4.6 11.4 -
Glycine 1.21 6.0 5.6 10.4 -
Histidine 0.42 2.1 2.2 5.05 -
Arginine 2.28 8.5 7.1 2.21 -
Leucine - 8.7 8.7 14.0 7.0
Threonine 0.65 4.1 3.6 6.98 4.0
Proline 2.35 5.6 6.8 9.55 -
Tyrosine 1.06 4.5 4.1 5.59 -
Valine 1.62 6.3 6.5 11.6 5.0
Methionine 0.14 2.4 1.0 2.29 -
Isoleucine 1.37 6.7 5.5 8.27 4.0
Phenylalanine 2.06 5.7 6.0 10.3 -
Cysteic acid 1.09 2.7 2.1 3.60 -
Lysine 1.63 6.1 6.1 11.2 5.5
Tryptophan 0.18 1.6 2.0 2.81 4.0
Alanine 2.21 6.2 6.7 10.6 -
Phenylalanine + tyrosine - - - - 16.0
Methionine + cystine - - - - 3.5
Table 1: Amino acid composition of baobab parts (mg/g dry weight) [13,18,19,42,103].
*Data from Burkina Faso.
**Data from Maiduguri, Nigeria.
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is used as food. Ripped fruit pulps are removed from the bers and
seeds by kneading in cold water: the resulting emulsion is sieved. is
is then added to thick grain preparations to make thinner gruels. e
dry pulp is either eaten fresh or used to add to gruels on cooling aer
cooking and that is also a good way of preserving the vitamin content.
e pulp is also ground to make a refreshing drink with a pleasing
wine-gum avor. More so, in Tanzania, it is added to aid fermentation
of sugar cane for beer making [24,25]. e cattle-owning Fulani and
the Hausa of the northern Nigeria use the fruit pulp emulsion to
mix with milk as a drink. Pulp can be stored for fairly long period of
time for use in so drink production but it needs airtight containers.
Storage is improved by the use of sodium metabisulphite [26]. It can
also be frozen if ground to a powder [27]. Baobab powder mixtures
are commonly available in many public markets but quality can be
poor and some can be fraudulent. Fruit pulp is usually sundried,
but occasionally fermented, for use in cooking or as a substitute for
cream of tartar in baking. e fruit pulp is important in local diets as a
seasoning component and appetizer [28]. e fruit pods are also good
for burning and a potash-rich vegetable salt may be obtained from
this ash for making soap [29].
e fruit pulp is said to have very high vitamin C content; almost
ten times that of an oranges [17]. Ighodalo et al. [30] recorded 337 mg
ascorbic acid/100g of the pulp for fruits in Nigeria. e Baobab Fruit
Company in 2002 recorded 34-200mg/100g of ascorbic acid; and [31]
stated levels were higher than in orange. Special attention has been
given to measuring vitamin C in baobab fruit pulp due to occasional
reports of high content. ere was a joint eort between the Malian
Agronomic Research Institute and the Novartis Foundation for
Sustainable Development reveals a range from 1505-4991 mg/kg [20].
However the vitamin C content of the bulk fruit pulp varied from
1623mgkg–1 in one tree to 4991mgkg–1 in another [20]. Proximate
analysis of ripe fruit shows an average of 8.7% moisture with 2.7%
protein, 0.2% fat, 73.7% carbohydrate, 8.9% bers and 5.8% ash [32].
e pulp sweetness is provided by fructose, sucrose and glucose
contents. Fruit pulp is acidic due to the presence of organic acids
including citric, tartaric, malic, succinic as well as ascorbic acid [33].
e energy value of pulp is similar to that of baobab leaves [21].
Tables 1, 4 and 5 show the amino acid composition,mineral contents
andchemical compositionof the baobab fruit pulp respectively.
Research on the fruit pulp has been conducted by some researchers.
Osman [35] studied the chemical and nutritional component of the
Adansonia digitata L. fruit pulp and seed protein solubility. Results
from his study showed that the Adansonia digitata L. kernel is rich in
energy, protein and mineral content and also has a potential usefulness
as a food protein source in tropical and subtropical region. e fruit
pulp serves as a calcium supplement due to its high calcium content.
More so, the high protein solubility at acidic and alkaline pH suggests
that the baobab seed protein could be a desirable food ingredient as
well. A study on the chemical composition of baobab fruit (Adansonia
digitata L.) was conducted by [34], the researchers concluded that the
pectin of baobab fruit pulp has a low degree of esterication and low
intrinsic viscosity and therefore, probably not given it a good media
to form jelly with high solid content due to rapid precipitation and
therefore form an irregular gels. In addition, the pectin of the baobab
was lower quality compared to that of commercial apple pectin
and citrus wast pectin. Charles et al. [36] studied the Variability of
Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) fruits, its physical characteristics and
nutrient content in the West African Sahel. ey concluded that the
variation of vitamin C, sugar and the proximate composition of seeds
Leaves Sun dried Shade dried
1 2 3 1 2 3
Young trees,
Small leaves 5.7 74.5 12.9 12.9 156.5 27.2
Young trees,
Large leaves 6.7 54.0 9.3 5.1 130.0 22.0
Old trees,
Small leaves 9.9 87.0 15.3 19.4 147.5 26.2
Old trees,
Large leaves 4.1 69.0 11.5 7.1 107.0 18.5
Table 2: Pro-vitamin A contents of baobab leaves.
1 = μ/g α carotene; 2 = μ/g β carotene; 3 = RE μ/g
Minerals A* B** C** D**
Aluminum - 1230 228 2870
Barium - 187 182 454
Calcium 20000 26400 3070 3150
Copper 11.6 1 - -
Magnesium 5490 3120 4360 5350
Manganese 31 43.8 79.5 89.3
Molybdenum - 9.1 19.8 17.6
Phosphorus 3020 1480 2880 1200
Potassium - 10800 5400 3210
Sodium 1630 - - -
Table 3: Mineral contents of baobab leave(µg/100gdryweight).
*Data from [18]
**Data from [13]
Mineral Seeds
µg/g dry weight Fruit pulp
µg/g dry weight
Iron 18.3 17
Calcium 3950 3410
Magnesium 3520 2090
Manganese 10.6 -
Zinc 25.7 10.4
Sodium 19.6 54.6
Phosphorus 6140 733
Table 4: Mineral contents of baobab fruit pulp and seed (µg/g dry weight) [18,46].
Constituent (%)
Total soluble solids 79.3
Alcohol soluble solids 57.3
Total sugars 23.2
Reducing sugars 18.9
Total pectin 56.2
Total starch 0
Proteins (%Nx6.25) 2.6
Fat 0.2
Fibre 5.7
Ash 5.3
Table 5: Chemical composition of baobab fruit pulp [34].
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within populations observed is a rst indication that valuable gains
could be made by selection of good varieties. Shelly et al., [37] study
the polyphenol-rich baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L.) in terms
of reduction of starch digestion and glycemic response in humans.
ese result concluded that the Adansonia digitata L. fruit is a rich
source of bio-accessible polyphenols, and the current study shows
the potential of baobab for reducing the Glycemic Response (GR) to
carbohydrate-rich foods both in vitro and in vivo.
A lot of studies have shown that Adansonia digitata L fruit pulp is
rich in vitamins and minerals [3,17,35,38] and contains a high amount
of both the soluble and insoluble dietary ber [3,17,35,38,32,39].
e vitamin C content present in the fruit is what contributes to its
overall antioxidant capacity (lamienet al.), and is a good source of
polyphenols, including certain avonoids [1,40] and tannins [41].
e fruit is of increasing nutritional interest because it may be a
signicant contributor to the daily intake of important nutrient and
non-nutrient compounds [34].
Seeds
e Seeds are used as a thickening agent in soups; they are also
fermented and used as a avoring agent, or roasted and eaten as
snacks [31,42]. When they are roasted, they are sometimes used as
a substitute for coee. In some cases, seeds are de-hulled by boiling,
rubbing by hand, and then sun drying the kernels before grinding.
Fermentation of powdered de-hulled seeds is known to increase
protein digestibility. It also reduces the trypsin inhibition activity
but increases tannin content [43]. e baobab seeds are ground
with peanuts and water and sugar added to make a sauce used with
porridge [44]. Seed pulp is sometimes known as monkey bread and
is eaten and traded in the dierent regions [15]. e seeds have an
energy value of 1803 kJ/100g approximately 50% higher than leaves,
moisture 8.1%, protein 33.7%, and fat 30.6%, carbohydrates 4.8%,
bre 16.9% and ash 5.9% [32]. e vitamin C content of the baobab
seeds has not been researched extensively but they are known to
contain high levels of lysine, thiamine, Ca and Fe [45]. Nkafamiyaet
al. [46] reported that the phosphorous, calcium and magnesium are
the major mineral elements present in baobab seeds (Table 4).
Seeds are also said to be a good source of cooking oil but this
is not widespread, although there has been interest in expanding
such use due to decits of vegetable oils. e oils are extracted by
pounding the seeds. Glew et al.[18] study the essential amino acids
of the baobab seed from Burkina faso, while [42] studied the seeds
from Maiduguri Nigeria and the results are presented in Table 1. e
results showed similarities between samples from Burkina Faso and
from Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Seed oils
e oils have been used for centuries by local communities for
the purpose of food, medicine, cosmetic applications and production
of lubricants, soaps and personal care products. e oils were used in
topical treatment of various conditions such as hair dandru,muscle
spasms, varicose veins and wounds [47,48]. e baobab seeds oils
contained high proportions of linoleic and oleic acid as well as
palmitic and α-linolenic acid [18,49]. Osman [35] reported that the
baobab seed oil is an excellent source of mono-and polyunsaturated
fatty acids. e principal fatty acids in baobab oil are linoleic
and oleic acid, 39.42% and 26.07% respectively of the total fatty
acids 73.11% which is unsaturated while 26.89% is saturated [29].
Polyunsaturated fatty acid plays an important role in modulating
human metabolism. erefore, the high linoleic acid content is
of nutritive signicance because of the ability of some unsaturated
vegetable oils to reduce cholesterol levels [29]. is high content of
mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids suggests that baobab seed
oil would be useful as food oil [35]. e saponication value is high,
suggesting that baobab oil may be suitable for soap making [46] as
well. Essien and Fetuga [50] provided basic information on the
physical and chemical characteristics of the seed oil and they observed
that the iodine value showed a similar degree of unsaturation when
compared with corn oil. e low peroxide value points to a higher
level of unsaturated fatty acids. is study, in Nigeria, also showed
that β-carotene content was 43.36μg/100g, twice that of palm kernel
oil and 7 times that of corn oil. is characterization of the baobab
seed oil makes it unique anddesirable oil especially in domestic and
industrial cooking/ frying and other application such as soap making.
e Baobab Fruit Company [51] has collated data from a series of
publications and provides the most comprehensive overview of seed
oil properties and constituents as shown in Table 6.
In recent years, demand for seed oils as ingredients for food,
Composition Quantity
Specic Gravity (SG)
25/25oC 0.937
Refractive index(RI)
40oC 1.4596-1.4633
Iodine value 55-96
Saponiable Value 133-195
Unsaponiable matter% 2.8-3.8
Volatile matter% 1.65
Moisture% 2.08
Fatty acid Composition (%)
12:0 0-0.3
14:0 0.3-1.5
16:0 25-46
16:1 0.3-1.7
18:1 21-59
18:2 12-29
18:3 0-8
20:0 0.5-1.0
20:1 0-3.6
Others Others
Malvalic 1-7
Sterculic 1-8
Dihydrosterculic 2-5
Sterol Composition (%) Sterol Composition (%)
Cholesterol 2
Camperterol 6
Stigma sterol 1-2
β-Sitosterol 75
5-Avenasterol 0.5
7-Stigmasterol 0.6
7-Avenasterol 12
Table 6: Properties and constituents of the seed oil of baobab.
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cosmetics and biofuel has increased greatly as industry seeks natural
alternatives. A study on the production of biodiesel production and
fuel properties was conducted by [52]. e result of the experiment
shows that it was feasible to produce biodiesel from baobab seed oil
(Adansonia digitata L.) using a one-step trans esterication process
using sodium methoxides as the homogenous catalyst. Optimum
conditions obtained for the biodiesel production were: reaction
temperature (60oC), reaction time (1h), catalyst to the oil ratio (1.4wt
%) and methanol to oil ratio (30wt %) and they obtained an optimum
biodiesel yield of 96wt %.e world production of seed oils has
increased drastically and therefore creating pressure on countries that
are providing the raw material to meet the growing demands.
Non-Food Application of Baobab
Apart from food application the baobab can also be used so many
purposes. Fibre from the inner bark is strong and it’s widely used for
making rope, basket nets, snares, shing lines and is even used for
weaving. In East Africa roots are used to make a soluble red dye. e
green bark is also used as a dye and for decoration [53]. e hard
fruit shells are used in the manufacture of pots for food and drink.
e wood is a poor source of fuel; however, fruit shells are used as
fuel in Tanzania and they are used as water dippers [54]. Shells from
the fruits and the seedcake, le aer pounding to extract seed oil, are
usually fed to animal stock.
Medicinal Applications of Baobab
Traditional medicine
e bark, roots, leaves, fruits and seeds of baobab are widely used
by indigenous peoples for human and animal medicines. Leaves and
fruit pulp are used in folk medicine as an antipyretic or febrifuge
to overcome fevers. e powdered leaves can be used as anti-stress
properties. ey are variously used to treat fatigue, as a tonic and for
insect bites, guinea worm and internal pains and to treat dysentery.
e fruit pulp and powdered seeds are used in cases of dysentery and
to promote perspiration. Seeds are also used in cases of hiccough. Oil
extracted from seeds is used for inamed gums and to ease diseased
teeth. Maybe the widest use in folk medicine is the use of the bark as a
substitute for quinine in cases of fever or as a prophylactic. Decoction
of the bark decomposes rapidly due to the mucilaginous substances
present. In Malawi, hangovers and constipation are treated with a
traditional drink known as dambedza, made by soaking fruit pulp in
water [55].
e witchdoctors in Senegal treat endu/oedema (numbness of the
limbs) with incantations and a salve of A. digitata. Baobab bark forms
part of a concoction used in Namibia for treating swollen limbs [56].
e bark, leaf, fruit pulp and seed are used in India to reduce swellings
[57]. Baobab fruit pulp improves the iron status of children with low
iron levels in their blood [58]. An aqueous bark extract of A. digitata is
traditionally used in Nigeria for treating sickle-cell anaemia. However,
Adesanya et al.[59] found that although water and methanol bark
extracts possessed reversal anti-sickling properties, the low reversal
activity of the extracts compared to p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and the
absence of any in vitro activity did not justify the local use of the
baobab for the prevention of sickling crisis by suerers. Baobab stem-
bark is considered benecial in Nigeria as a heart tonic with diuretic
properties [60]. In Senegal baobab leaves and the fruit pulp are used
for external bleeding; lalo (baobab leaf) is taken for anaemia and
also claimed to lower blood pressure [61,62]. In Benin the Otomari
prepare a decoction from the seeds known as mantofamen, it is used
to treat high blood pressure. e leaves and pulp are also used in the
treatment of haemorrhoids [63]. A drink made from fruit pulp and
seeds of A. digitata are given to treat haemoptysis [64].
In West Africa the sap, or a paste from roasted crushed seeds,
is applied to the diseased teeth and gums [45,62,65,66] while in
Tanzania the bark decoction is used as a mouthwash for toothache
[63,67]. e bark has been used for treating caries and the fruit stalk
used as a tooth stick in Mali [67] and India [68]. e Chewa of the
southern Malawi treat sore throats with a draught of an infusion
of baobab roots [69] and Children with sore gums (gingivitis) are
treated with roasted, powdered seeds [10]. e same condition is also
treated with bark in India [68]. In West Africa, eye complaints, such
as conjunctivitis, are treated by bathing the eyes in a decoction of
baobab bark from young trees, an infusion of the leaves and owers
[62,66]. In Tanzania the stem-bark and leaves are boiled with meat
and used against a condition locally known as kambaku, resembling
sinusitis [70].
In Benin a preparation of the baobab seed is taken to relieve
stomach ache in adults [63]. e roots of A. digitata are used
in Tanzania for treating stomach ache as well. e fruit pulp in
water or milk is taken alone with gruel of millet, or a decoction of
the crushed or roasted seeds and water, is used to treat intestinal
inammations, diarrhoea and dysentery throughout much part of
Africa [28,41,45,64–66,71–74].
e Fulani in Guinea-Bissau treat urinary diseases with the root
of A. digitata [75]. In Somalia, fresh or dried roots are boiled in two
to four glasses of water and two cups are taken in the morning as a
remedy for urine retention [76]. In West African,a solution of the
baobab fruit matrix and water, or preferably rice water in which iron
rust has been boiled, was used to treat smallpox. Patients with measles
had a thick paste of baobab pulp, cereal our and water placed on
their eyes several times a day. Before smallpox was eliminated its
victims used to receive the same treatment [28,45,62,65,66,72,77].
In Tanzania people who are HIV positive drink the liquid obtained
by boiling baobab roots, bark and fruit pulp [78]. In South Africa
the Venda use a baobab bark decoction together with the root of
Osyrislanceolatato treat sexually transmissible diseases [79]. e
bark, leaf, fruit rind, pulp and seed are also used in India for treating
venereal diseases [57].
In Senegal enteritis (due to dust, fungi, etc.) is treated either by
bathing in laloor with a decoction of crushed seeds, or the fruit pulp
in water [62]. A poultice of leaves crushed in hot water is used in
Nigeria for healing circumcision wounds [10,41]. Wounds may also
be treated with an application of a seed paste [74].e gum and a
powder scraped from the outside of the baobab fruit are used for
cleansing wounds and sores and promoting granulation in Senegal
and Mali [65,74]. In many parts of the African countries, there is a
common but unconrmed belief that baobab bark, pulp and seeds
are an antidote to Strophanthusspp., (an arrow poison) [80]. us,
in Tanzania, a specially delegated member of any Shangaan hunting
party is made responsible for carrying some baobab bark, pulp and
seeds. In Senegal and Malawi, hunters squeeze the sap from baobab
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bark into the wound of an animal killed by a poisoned arrow to
neutralise the poison [66,81]. According to [82] the active principle of
the arrow poison is strophanthin, consisting of a mixture of glycosides,
including K-strophanthin, B. cymarin, etc. ‘Adansonin’, present in
the stem-bark is considered to have a cardiotonic eects [62,70],
while the tannins in the baobab bark precipitate the glycosides [83].
In Nigeria, to prevent post-coital seminal expulsion during visits
to the toilet, a decoction, prepared from baobab stem-bark and
a sliced lime fruit (Citrus aurantifolia), is boiled in a clay pot with
fermented maize water. Half a glassful of the mixture is drunk three or
four times a week. Alternatively, the nely powdered, burnt ashes of
baobab fruit and a pod of melegueta pepper (Aframomummelegueta)
are placed in a bottle containing honey and one teaspoonful is taken
in water once a day for 7 days [84]. Pregnant women in Malawi drank
baobab juice made from fruit pulp mixed with water [55]. Australian
Aboriginal mothers with newborn babies also used to drink boab
fruit pulp crushed into water [85]. Baobab roots and owers have
unspecied gynaecological applications in Mali [67] but in Benin the
owers are used to speed the ejection of the foetus [63]. In Tanzania
the Maasai use the bark and leaves for treating aerbirth retention
[86]. Mukamuri and Kozanayi [87] reported that pregnant women in
Zimbabwe use the bark from mature baobabs to enlarge their birth
canals in order to reduce pain during delivery. In India, to relieve
delivery pains, pregnant women bathe in water in which baobab
bark has been boiled [88]. Senegal use a mixture of the powdered
roots of A. digitataand Sterculiasetigeraplus bulrush millet bran
(Penisetumglaucum) to stimulate lactation [62], while in Mali, the
fruit pulp is eaten to stimulate lactation [67]; the seeds are similarly
used in Benin [63].
In Senegal, kwashiorkor is treated using a mixture of the
powdered roots of A. digitata, Acacia albida, Bauhinia rufescens,
Waltheriaindica, Mitracarpusvillosus(syn. M. scaber) and the
leaves of Chrozophorasenegalensisin milk; the same draught is also
recommended for pellagra or fox-evil [62]. While in southern Malawi
treat kwashiorkor is also treated by drinking an infusion of baobab
root [89]. In Senegalreport the use of baobab bark as a remedy against
rickets and as a tonic [62]. A decoction of the bark is also used in the
Republic of the Congo and East Africa to bathe rickety children. A
root decoction is given as a tonic for lassitude and as a strengthening
medicine [69,86,90,91]. e pulp is eaten as an appetizer in Benin
[63], while in Namibia the pounded seeds are used as a tonic [56].
Gelfand [92] stated that David Livingstone successfully treated
indolent sores with poultices of powdered baobab leaf and considered
that Livingstone’s ulcers may have been of dietetic origin. e Chewa
of southern Malawi treats vitamin C deciency by eating pulp and
they also considered the pulp to be an appetizer [69]. In Benin, a
decoction known as tutonakankount is prepared from baobab leaves
crushed in boiling water to which a few grammes of potash are added;
it is used to cure iron and calcium deciencies [63]. e bark, leaf,
fruit pulp and seed are used in India for relieving body and joint pains
[57].
Medicinal compounds
In the late 16th century the powdered pulp of A. digitata was
reputedly imported to Europe as a substitute for, or an addition
to, the medicinal earth known as terra lemnia or terra sigillata. In
many medicinal uses, stem bark is used. When prepared it is made
into a decoction for internal use and functions due to its soluble and
insoluble tannin, gummy and albuminious constituents. e bark
has anti-haemorrhagic properties (due to the tannin), as well as being
diaphoretic, antipyretic and anti-ophthalmic [62]. In Nigeria baobab
stem-bark is regarded as a ‘heart tonic’ with diuretic properties. is
was tested by [60]. ey found that an ethanolic extract of the bark
improved contractions of heart muscles in rats. e avonol glycoside
quercetin-7-O-β-d-xylopyranoside in A. digitata is an antioxidant
with anti-carcinogenic, anti-HIV and antibiotic properties.
etriterpenoid 7-baueren-3-acetate and derivatives of betulinic
acid, also present in the baobab’s bark, may also possess anti-HIV
activity [93]. A methanol extract of the dried and powdered stem-
bark showed anti-microbial activity against the bacteria Streptococcus
sp. and Pseudomonas aeruginoa, and the fungus A. niger [94]. e
root-bark and leaves were active against the bacteria B. subtilis, E. coli,
Mycobacterium phlei, S. aureusand Streptococcus faecalisbut resistant
to Klebsiellapneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella
typhimurium and the fungus C. albicans [95].
e Leaf preparations also have hypotensive, antihistaminic,
calmative and emollient eects [66]. e anti-asthmatic eect of
baobab leaves is attributed to the avonosidedehydroxyavane [96].
e Baobab fruit pulp acts as a palliative and diaphoretic for fevers
and dysentery, the fruit bres (funicles) act as an emmenagogue, and
the seeds are anti-inammatory [62,65].
A clinical trial was set up in Dakar [97] to compare the clinical
ecacy of a baobab pulp solution with the standard WHO solution to
treat children aged 6 months or older (mean age: 16.6 ± 8.8 months)
with diarrhoea and associated mild to moderate dehydration.
Seventy-nine children received the WHO solution and 82 the
baobab solution. e eects on the diarrhoea and subsequent weight
gain were followed for 4-48 h. e WHO solution was found to be
superior but not statistically signicant, while the baobab solution
had additional nutritional, economic and cultural benets, and was
therefore recommended for home use. A similar study in Khartoum
was conducted on 160 children with a mean age of 8 months. ey
found out that an aqueous solution of baobab pulp was signicantly
more eective than the traditional WHO solution for the rehydration
of children aected by diarrhoea [98] (cited by [51]). Köhler et al.
[99] investigated the anti-plasmodal activity of an aqueous extract of
baobab pulp against chloroqinine-sensitive and -resistant strains of
Plasmodium falciparum (malarial sporozoa). ey obtained an IC50
value of >50 μg mg−1 (concentration at which growth is inhibited by
50%), which was considered as being inactive.
In Nigeria 142 school children aged 6–8 years with a haemoglobin
(Hb) concentration <11 g dl−1 were dewormed. Half were fed cereals,
legumes and vegetables plus 250 mm baobab pulp drink; the control
received the same diet but without the baobab drink. e Hb
concentration of the rst group rose to 13 g dl−1, that of the control
to 11 g dl−1. e number of children with <12 g l−1 serum ferritin fell
from 75% to 30% for children receiving the baobab drink; the control
remained unchanged [58]. e lubricating, binding and thinning
properties of the carbohydrates and pectin present in the pulp make
it suitable for use by local pharmacists as a hydrophilic matrix for
paracetamol and theophyllin controlled-release tablets [100,101].
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A. digitataseeds contain O-acetylethanolamine, which is believed to
have anti-inammatory properties [102].
e adverse health eects of cyclopropenoic fatty acids (CPEFA)
in edible food are well documented [103]. Rats fed fresh baobab seed
oil containing 1.75% CPEFA showed retarded growth and enlarged
livers compared to rats fed heated seed oil containing 0.046% CPEFA.
e CPEFA in fresh oil either inhibited fatty acid desaturation
or specically inhibited the desaturation of substrate previously
incorporated into membrane phospholipids. e monounsaturated
fatty acid content of kidneys and liver signicantly decreased with
fresh oil, whereas there was virtually no eect on tissue fatty acid
prole from heated oil [78].
Conclusion
It is evident that the iconic baobab tree of Africa is an important
nutritional and medicinal resource. Several plant parts have interesting
anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-inammatory properties, and based
on the review, baobab has been used extensively since ancient times in
traditional medicine and food application. Numerous studies on the
biological activities of baobab have been conducted with promising
results. However, the major trend found is that baobab fruit pulp is
rich in vitamin C and the anti-oxidant capacity of the fruit pulp is
greater than that of other common fruits known for high anti-oxidant
activity. Baobab fruit pulp has been approved by statutory bodies
for use in certain nutritional products. Seed oils have been used
for topical skin application since ancient times and due to the toxic
eects of synthetic oils, there is a growing trend to replace them and
revert to the use of natural oils in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical
industries. Baobab seed oil is used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic
industries due to its fatty acid content known to have benecial eects
when applied onto the skin.
Based on the review, it can be seen that the baobab tree is
promising considering the nutritional benets of the fruit pulp
in terms of its vitamins C content, while the leaves based on their
mineral and vitamin A content. e seed oil’s fatty acid composition
and antioxidant activity is what makes it unique as functional oil.
Oleic acid is probable the most abundant monounsaturated fatty
acid in all the common edible oils compared with polyunsaturated
fatty acids, oleic acid is more stable towards oxidation both at high
temperatures and storage temperatures. erefore, oils with high
amounts of oleic acid are more oxidative stable during shelf life or
undergo oxidative decomposition during frying than those oils that
contain high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. e fatty acids
compositions in baobab oil are linoleic and oleic acid. Due to the fatty
acid composition of the oil, the oil can be classied as premium oil
and can be used in replacement of the other vegetable oils.
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Citation: Zahra’u B, Mohammed AS, Ghazali HM and Karim R. Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata L) Parts:
Nutrition, Applications in Food and Uses in Ethno-medicine – A Review. Ann Nutr Disord & Ther. 2014;1(3): 1011.
Ann Nutr Disord & Ther - Volume 1 Issue 3 - 2014
ISSN : 2381-8891 | www.austinpublishinggroup.com
Mohammed et al. © All rights are reserved
... Proximate nutritional compositions of different parts of baobab and cocoa by different authors are presented in Fig. 3 [64,[109][110][111]. In terms of proximate analysis, baobab pulp is richer in fibre and carbohydrate than cocoa powder while baobab kernel is also richer than cocoa powder in fat, protein and fibre (Fig. 3). ...
... Calcium is a very essential mineral in tooth formation and lowers the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which reduced bone mass, weakens the bone [63]. Due to its high calcium content, the baobab fruit pulp could serve as an attractive natural source of calcium supplement [64], particularly for pregnant and lactating women, as well as for children and the aged [65] as it could be used to improve tooth and bone strength. Similarly, magnesium is generally much higher in baobab pulp (12.57 ...
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... Sesame seeds have significant levels of oil content in the upward ranges of 48 to 55% (Hegde, 2012). Baobab fruit pulp is usually low in fat content, with some studies reporting contents in the average of 0.5 to 2% (Zahrau et al., 2014;Aluko et al., 2016). High fat content in the formulations was attributed to the roasted sesame seeds. ...
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Sorghum, sesame seeds and baobab fruit are commercially viable, underutilized crops in sub-Saharan Africa with potential for use in development of high-quality value-added products for food and nutritional security. This study evaluated effects of processing methods on the nutritional and sensory attributes of a ready to eat snack bar developed from sorghum supplemented with sesame and baobab fruit pulp powder. The moisture content ranged between 6.38 and 10.28%, total fiber content ranged between 5.59 and 10.455 g/100 g while protein and fat content ranged between 11.28 and 16.74 g/100 g and 9.65 g/100 g and 18.58 g/100 g, respectively. The carbohydrates content in the snack bars ranged between 46.37 and 60.31 g/100 g, while energy content averaged 426.33 kcal/100 g for raw materials and 414.38 kcal/100 g for formulated snack bars. Concentrations of iron, calcium and zinc ranged between 5.46 and 14.611 mg/100 g, 82 and 246 mg/100 g, and 1.377 and 4.98 mg/100 g, respectively. Sensory evaluation of the bars formulations was based on a 5-point hedonic scale and revealed significant differences (p<0.05) in color, taste and overall acceptability. The aroma and crunchiness of the snacks were not significant. The study found underutilized crops have the versatility to improve the range of products and spur innovation in new product development.
... Statutory bodies of different countries have approved the fruit pulp as a food supplement because of certain nutritional products (Sundarambal et al., 2015). For instance, the fruit pulp of A. digitata has high vitamin C content, 10 times that of an orange, and can be used for making juice (Bamalli et al., 2014). ...
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The baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L.) is found widely in the forests and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. The baobab fruit has a sour and slightly sweet taste and is widely consumed by the natives, thus containing a high nutritional value and providing a source of income for rural people. This study aimed to compare the nutritional composition of baobab fruit pulp from different localities in the Namibe province (Angola). Twenty samples of baobab pulp were collected in markets of the four municipalities of Namibe. The results obtained showed that there is some geographic location dependence on nutritional and functional composition. The municipality of Camucuio showed samples with higher fibre content (56.62 g/100 g) and vitamin C (288.9 mg/100 g). Samples from the Virei municipality stood out for their antioxidant activity (1936 mmol TE/100 g), high K content (42.4 mg/g) and higher values of protein (2.42 g/100 g). The samples collected in the municipality of Bibala stood out for their high contents of carbohydrates (28.1 g/100 g), total phenolic compounds (972 mg GAE/100 g) and Ca (3.80 mg/g). Despite the differences in origin, the high nutritional value of baobab fruit has the potential to improve the diet of thousands of people in Afric qualitatively.
Chapter
Adansonia digitata (African baobab) is a long-living angiosperm classified as a member of Bombacoideae, a subfamily of Malvaceae. Today, the presence of African baobab tree is documented not only in Africa but also in South America, Asia, and Australia among others. Every part of baobab has been reported to be useful nutritionally or medicinally. The ethnopharmacological use of baobab includes: antimalarial, antidiabetic, analgesic effects, etc. Polyphenols, flavonoids (catechin, vitexin, quercetin, retin, etc.), mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and organic acids are some of the secondary metabolites identified in A. digitata. Also, potassium and calcium are the most abundant minerals present while the prominent trace elements are zinc and manganese. An increasing number of scientific studies have confirmed baobab analgesic properties. Neuropathic pain mitigation by A. digitata is linked to its flavonoids and mineral constituents. These substances alleviate neuropathic pain by a panoply of mechanisms including the inhibition of NF-κB to suppress inflammation, upregulation of Nrf2 to improve oxidative defense, inhibition of TRPV1 transcript to reduce pain, inhibition of NR2B subunit of NMDA receptor to suppress pain, and interaction of appropriate ion component like zinc with NR2A subunit of NMDA receptors to cause decrease transmission of pain signals, which together result to pain-relieving effects.
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Baobab (Adansonia digitata L., Malvaceae) is a multi-purpose tree species native to Africa. Its fruit pulp has very high vitamin C content (ffi ten times that of orange), and can be used in seasoning, as an appetizer and to make juices. Seeds contain appreciable quantities of crude protein, digestible carbohydrates and oil, whereas they have high levels of lysine, thiamine, Ca and Fe. They can be eaten fresh or dried, ground into flour and thus added to soups and stews. Processing eliminates a number of anti-nutritional factors present in the seed. Baobab leaves are superior in nutritional quality to fruit pulp, and contain significant levels of vitamin A. The leaves are a staple for many populations in Africa, and are eaten fresh or dried. Several plant parts have interesting anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and baobab has been used extensively since ancient times in traditional medicine. Key words: Baobab, Adansonia digitata L., traditional use, phytochemistry, pharmacology, amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, anti-nutritional factors
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Proximate, mineral and selected physicochemical characteristics of baobab (Adansonia digitata) seed, pulp and seed- oil were determined using standard analytical methods. The proximate composition (%) of the seed and pulp were as follows; moisture (3.8 ± 0.2 and 11.2 ± 0.2), protein (19.5 ± 0.5 and 3.5 ± 0.1), fat (13.4 ± 0.1 and 0.4 ± 0.1), ash (3.1± 0.1 and 4.5 ± 0.5), crude fibre (15.6 ± 0.5 and 6.1 ± 0.1) and carbohydrate (44.6 and 74.3). Baobab seed, pulp and seed-oil are good source of macro and micro nutrients with potassium (K) being the most predominant element with magnessiun (Mg), calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) also present in appreciable quantities. The physicochemical properties also revealed slightly acidic P H for the pulp (5.6 ± 0.2) and oil (6.1 ± 0.1) while the seed was alkaline (8.2 ± 0.1). From the soluble solid content, the pulp contains more sugar than the seed while the titrable acidity of the oil with 3.51 ± 0.10 is higher than 0.65 ± 0.04 of the pulp. The saponification, iodine and acid values of the oil were 218.41 ± 0.20mgKOH/g, 92.10 ± 1.50mgI 2/100g and 6.52 ± 0.02 mgKOH/g respectively while the refractive index and specific gravity were 1.498 ± 0.002 and 0.928 ± 0.001. The results presented here established the edibility of the pulp, seed and oil as well as a pointer to its industrial usage. Keywords: Proximate, mineral, physicochemical, saponification, pulp, oil, seed, edible.
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Irrespective of varied names, it was uniformly reported during our investigations in different parts of Gujarat that the pulp of baobab fruit is used to prepare a soft drink (sherbet), which is recommended as a very effective refrigerant. The white dry crispy pulp, which binds the dark brown or black seeds in a fibrous network of vascular tissue of the fruit is eaten raw by children and used as a substitute for tamarind. The pulp mixed with milk and sugar is used to cure jaundice in some parts of South Gujarat while the bark extraction is used for the same purpose in Anand district of Central Gujarat. Bark decoction is also used to cure whooping cough (utaatiyo) especially in children in Anand. It is also believed that the tree starts bearing new foliage just one week or ten days before the onset of monsoon; and thus could be considered as a rain indicator.