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Strange African Fruit Baobab for Type 2 Diabetes

2013-09-19 11:02
Baobab for Type 2 Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes and you are interested in finding natural ways to deal with the disease, one answer may come from Africa. The baobab fruit possesses qualities that are helpful for people who have type 2 diabetes.

What is baobab fruit?
Baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L.) grows on trees belonging to the genus known as Adansonia. Although it is the national tree of Madagascar, it is also found in South Africa and Australia.

The fruit of the tree, which is also called the “tree of life” because the natives use parts of the tree for food, clothing, and shelter, is about 3 pounds each and the size of a coconut. Baobab fruit is commonly called monkey fruit and is a rich source of various polyphenols (plant nutrients) that have important health value.

Baobab fruit reportedly has antioxidant properties that are four times those found in apples and kiwi. Among the fruit’s nutrients are vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as riboflavin, niacin, pectin, citric, malic acid, and a fair amount of fiber.

The new baobab fruit study and diabetes
A new study by researchers at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom and Monash University in Australia has explored the value of the fruit’s polyphenols in diabetes. Past research has shown that polyphenols are helpful in reducing the sugar (glycemic) response, so the investigators wanted to identify the effect baobab fruit would have as well.

The scientists measured the antioxidant and polyphenol content of six extracts of baobab fruit from six different locations throughout Africa. To identify the ability of baobab fruit to break down starch, extracts of the fruit were added to beverages and baked into white bread at various doses.

Here’s what the researchers found:

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* The best dose of baobab extract to add to white bread was 1.88%, which significantly reduced starch breakdown during an in vitro digestion process.

* Both a low dose (18.5 g) and a high dose (37 g) of baobab extract added to water significantly reduced glycemic response.

* All the baobab extracts used in the study were good sources of polyphenols.

Researchers believe the polyphenols in baobab may interfere with the activity of certain digestive enzymes, which in turn prevents the breakdown of starch. They also propose that the fiber in baobab fruit helps reduce the release of sugar.

Why are the results of this study important? Because they provide evidence that baobab extract may be helpful when added to beverages and/or foods for people who have type 2 diabetes.

Thus functional foods containing baobab extract could be on your supermarket shelf in the future. For now, however, the researchers concluded that “further human studies on glycemic response would be essential for determining the optimal dose of baobab fruit extract in reducing postprandial glycemia.”

REFERENCE
Coe SA et al. The polyphenol-rich baobab fruit (Adansonia digitata L.) reduces starch digestion and glycemic response in humans. Nutrition Research 2013 September 11 published online