The buzz around Baobab has been building and we predict 2016 is the year things really take off for the hottest superfood on the block.
Blossoming as one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world, the Baobab tree is an icon in many parts of southern Africa. Traditionally used in African medicine, since approval for sale in the UK in 2008 demand for the plant and the legend of its’ nutritional powers have rocketed.
As a natural medicine it’s easy to access and affordable. Baobab fruit, seeds, roots, and oil are used to treat pain, infections, and malaria-induced fever. The pulp contains a whopping 50% fibre so it’s also ideal as a treatment for an upset stomach too.
As a food, the Baobab stands up against some nutritional heavy-hitters, offering six times more vitamin C than an orange, twice as much calcium as a glass of milk, and more iron than a steak! Besides being full of fibre – which acts like a hoover for any nasties hanging around in your digestive system and slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, which makes you feel fuller for longer – Baobab has prebiotic qualities too (prebiotics are a food source for probiotics; the “good bacteria” you’ve probably heard of).
Besides being deployed in traditional African medicines, Baobab has been used for centuries for cosmetics. The oil contains loads of fatty acids (many of which occur naturally in our skin) so it’s great as a bath oil, body moisturiser and hair conditioner.
Whilst it was used in traditional medicine as a wound ointment, the natural anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties make it perfect for those of us wanting to fight acne or just the occasional zit without resorting to harsh chemicals.
How we use it
How does this exciting ingredient fit in to our everyday eating habits? Baobab is an acquired taste on its own, but it’s also easily mixed in to smoothies and juices (the pectin content means it works like a natural thickener, so you might want to dilute your drink with more water or milk than usual).
Though everyone interprets the taste slightly differently, we think Baobab is a little bit like a mixture of pineapple and grapefruit. If you start the day with a mug of hot water with lemon, try adding a spoonful to for a fruity tang. The powdered form of Baobab is ideal for sprinkling on to cereal, porridge or yogurt at breakfast, too. You can even add it to coconut water for a post work-out electrolyte kick!
How else can I use it?
Superfood connoisseurs can go a step further in incorporating this impressive food in to their wellbeing routine by being scrubbed, massaged, and pampered with them too…
Nestled in a quiet corner of bustling west London, the K West hotel’s subterranean spa is one of the first luxury establishments to harness the fruit’s goodness in a full-body beauty treatment, so we headed down to find out how this superfood can offer much more than just a tangy addition to your morning smoothie.
The Baobab Feel Good treatment began with a combination of holistic methods to prise our minds and muscles away from the packed schedule and the chilly, unseasonal weather that day. The therapist deployed warming aromatherapy and pressure point rebalancing to get our energy flowing more calmly and to transport us to a more centred place almost immediately.
The ritual features products packed with the wonder fruit. Used in traditional medicine as a wound ointment, its’ natural anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties make it perfect for those of fighting acne or skin inflammation. Vitamin A boosts retinol, which supports even tone and Vitamin E repairs damaged or tired tissue, whilst Vitamin C supports the production of firming collagen, all of which make it the perfect ingredient on which to base a beauty treatment.
First a gritty seed-filled scrub gives an invigorating full body exfoliation to reveal fresh, smooth skin before essential oil (infused with the superfood of course) is used to massage in deep, broad strokes which encourage your lymphatic system to detox. In order to support the circulatory system, the lower limbs – which play a vital role in healthy circulation – receive an energising leg therapy using cooling Baobab gel. To get the digestive system involved in the holistic therapy too, the ritual is completed by sipping down a fresh Baobab smoothie!
Whilst the Feel Good treatment in itself is enough to make you feel fantastic on the outside and inside, it’s worth knowing that £2 is donated from each treatment to the Aduna Foundation which supports African small scale producers of Baobab fruit. When it comes to ‘feel good’ factor, it doesn’t get much better than that.
words by Caroline Kent – Twitter @carolinekent carolineannekent.com