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Herb of the month: Baobab

My Magazine 2022/12
3 min
Author: Verena Braren
When coming to The Gambia, most people will notice the majestic baobab trees with their wide grey trunks that can grow up to 25m tall and are said to reach a maximum age of 1,500 years! Known as "The Tree of Life", baobab trees produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when everything around them is dry and arid. Their large, egg-shaped fruit is protected by a hard shell that is covered by a brown velvet-like texture. On the inside, you will find white powdery chunks that resemble dry bread, and each contains a brown seed.

How to Use Baobab Fruit

The baobab fruit chunks have a sherbet-like, zingy flavour and are versatile to use. They can be enjoyed the way they are as a healthy snack or pounded into powder – a process during which the hard seeds are removed. You can stir a few spoons of the baobab fruit powder into water, juice or milk to create a healthy, refreshing drink. Also, add it to smoothies, cereal, or freeze the baobab juice to make popsicles. A drink you will often see offered in The Gambia is wonjo-baobab, whereby the thick baobab juice is layered beneath the fruity red hibiscus infusion called wonjo.

Health Benefits of the Baobab Fruit

It is not without reason that baobab fruit powder is increasingly becoming known as a "superfood" in the Western world. Packed with nutrients, the baobab fruit has one of the highest antioxidant profiles of any fruit on the planet. As well as being a rich source of Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium, it also contains 50% dietary fibre, which research has shown to have a prebiotic effect. Regularly consuming baobab fruit may aid weight loss, help balance blood sugar levels, prevent early ageing, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.

Benefits to the Community and Environment

Baobab fruit grows on mature trees with high longevity, which does not require watering, pesticides or fertiliser. This makes it a very sustainable food source and a valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife. There is also no such thing as a baobab plantation; every tree is community or family-owned and wild-harvested. After drying naturally on the trees, the fruit is sold by the women at local markets, generating extra income for the communities.

Where to Buy Baobab Fruit or powder

Big rice bags packed with baobab fruit chunks are a common sight at most local food markets. You can find smaller packing in several shops, such as Top-Shop at Senegambia Beach HotelFarm FreshTaste Of NatureYusupha’s Natural ProductsMyFarm, and many more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Verena Braren
My name is Verena Braren, and I am the writer behind some of the My Magazine articles. I was born in The Gambia, and my parents are the founders of TOP-SHOP. So, I grew up surrounded by African arts, traditional carvings, colourful prints and the like. The Gambia has always been the place that I call home and the place I missed when I was elsewhere. Unsurprisingly, moving back here and joining our family business a few years ago was an easy decision to make! I've been running our social media channels ever since and love getting creative with new products and designs.

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Trip of the month: Exploring The South
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