Tree of life

Another recent study shows that extracts from the fruit of the African baobab tree may also offer blood sugar benefits.

As a food, baobab fruit’s antioxidant power and nutrient profile are impressive. It’s packed with polyphenols and fiber. And it’s a rich source vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, pectin, and citric, malic, and succinic acids.

So it’s no surprise that baobab fruit also has a long history of traditional use in its native country. One that’s increasingly supported by modern science.

This particular study found that baobab fruit extracts can blunt blood sugar spikes at both low and high doses. (High doses had the greatest effect on glycemic response in the first hour, while low doses benefited blood sugar over 180 minutes.)

The researchers also examined baobab’s potential as a functional ingredient, by baking it into white bread. Results suggested that baobab extracts were able to block starch breakdown and sugar release, possibly turning off carb-digesting enzymes like alpha-glucosidase. (Yes, that’s the same mechanism by which the DNJ in mulberry leaf supposedly works.)

By now, you know how skeptical I am of the notion of “protected carbs.” (I’m looking at you, Dreamfields.) Better to just stay off bread altogether. But it will still be interesting to see where this research on baobab fruit leads.

The baobab is often called the “tree of life.” And I’d say that moniker is more fitting now than ever.

“The polyphenol-rich baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L.) reduces starch digestion and glycemic response in humans.” Published online ahead of print. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.08.002.