Baobab Fruit: The New Superfood
New Kaibae Brings Health Benefits of Baobab to America
Superfood. It is that special category of foods found in nature that are big in nutrients—nutrients that are crucial for the body to lead a long and healthy life. Common superfoods such as apples, bananas, carrots, and yes, even dark chocolate are readily available in every local grocery store. Interestingly, one not-so-common fruit is gaining rapid recognition as the new must-have superfood because of its high antioxidant, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium content. It’s called Baobab. Stemming from the remarkable Baobab tree, the Baobab fruit has exclusively been a source of life in African communities for centuries and is now finally available to all who want to enjoy its benefits thanks to the findings of Dr. Luc Maes and his company Kaibae® that produce 100% Pure Baobab Fruit Powder.
For the communities around them, the Baobab is more than just a fruit tree—it is a lifeline. The Baobab trees have provided food, shelter, and fiber for years to generations of families living in their shadows.
So why is the antioxidant power of Baobab so important? Quite simply, antioxidants keep free radicals at bay. "We live a very high-stress lifestyle that requires good nutrition," explained Maes. "We are exposed to more environmental pollutants and chemicals than ever. All of these, along with the demands of our lifestyle, creates unhealthy reactions at the cellular level and depletes our bodies of vital nutrients." Free radicals are the result—renegades that can undermine health and wellness.
"In excess, they create the undercurrent for an insidious state of inflammation," Maes continued. "Research has shown that underneath heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other conditions, we find higher levels of inflammation." Further research also has proven that higher levels of antioxidants can minimize the damage caused by free radicals.
As a fruit rich in fiber, Baobab also promotes the growth of probiotics. Probiotics are important for healthy digestive and immune systems, which keeps the skin healthy, as well.
Kaibae is a nutricosmetic company aimed at bringing the health benefits of Baobab to Santa Barbara. More than that, though, it also brings jobs and economic growth to the small community in Ghana, where the fruit is harvested.
Founded on the principles of social entrepreneurship, Kaibae's mantra is health, community, and planet, and every business decision is based on those ideals. "We intentionally sought out a community that needs economic development," he said. "We found an ingredient that's full of health benefits that grows naturally and abundantly, and that people there can harvest sustainably. In that way we're making a difference. The idea is to create a means through which people can better their lives without damaging the area, in the process."
While Baobab Trees grow across Africa, Maes has focused on Bawku, an area in northern Ghana where they have sacred meaning for communities who live among them. The giant trees produce hundreds of pods every season, and when they turn brown they're ready to be harvested. The fruit pulp dries by itself in the pods, and harvesters use long sticks to knock the pods to the ground. The pods are cracked open and the fruit powder is scraped out and separated from the seeds. Then it gets run through a sieve, steamed, and packaged. "The seeds are high in fatty acids," noted Maes. "They can also be cold pressed into a high quality oil used in skin care."
Following a strict set of rules to make his operation USDA organic, Maes produces pure Baobab powder, which can be used on practically anything—sprinkled on yogurt, mixed into drinks. "We're also making varieties of chews that are high in calcium, probiotics, and antioxidants. It's a product line that provides a convenient way to integrate healthy habits."
For Maes, a long-time student of plant chemistry, the fruit is nothing short of miraculous. "The antioxidant levels of Baobab are beyond those of any fruit I've come across in the world," he said. "It's like nature's multivitamin." He was so impressed by Baobab's nutritional value that he decided to make it the foundation of his business venture —Kaibae.
"My dream is to find other plants in Africa and South America," Maes said. "And always remember to value of health-community-planet."
Kaibae’s Social Responsibility
Baobab's superfood status derives not only from its health benefits, but also from the economic benefits it provides for those involved in the harvest. "There's no source of income for people in northern Ghana other than their goats, cows, and fowl," noted Maes. "They grow some millet and some corn, but the Baobab Tree is an opportunity for them. It's a wild and natural resource, and they know how to harvest it."
"The beauty of harvesting Baobab is that it happens during the off season from farming, enabling several hundred community members and their families to realize some income from a sustainable, local resources that is already a foundation of their communities," Cole continued. "Not only are they able to secure an income from these trees, all those engaged in the wild harvesting and processing of the fruit are trained in the technical aspects of the process, and most learn a basic level of business skills that are transferable to any enterprise they may choose to pursue later on."
Unlike purely extractive industries across much of Africa, the wild harvesting of Baobab preserves the long-term health and viability of the trees. "This kind of environmental stewardship will ensure that these trees will be around to sustain and nurture the next 500 years of these communities," Cole said.