Mangosteen is a tropical fruit predominantly found in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam and Thailand. It has a unique appearance and taste (1). But what are the benefits of mangosteen?
Traditionally, this fruit was used to treat kidney ailments, diabetes, high blood pressure, and skin conditions (2). So why have Western countries banned the use or sale of mangosteen? Keep reading to find out!
In This Article
What Is Mangosteen?
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical fruit cultivated mainly in Southeast Asia. It is now grown in the tropical areas of East Indies, India, China, and Sri Lanka as well (1).
The mangosteen tree has deep green leaves and a dark purple berry-like fruit. The fruit has a 1½-inch thick rind enclosing its flesh (2).
Its flesh is so delicate that it melts in your mouth almost like ice cream! The fruit’s pulp is white or yellowish, with crimson veins. Mangosteen fruit produces a yellow latex-like juice that is uber-flavorful (1), (2).
For obvious reasons, locals enjoy this fruit. Mangosteen juice and brewed tea are also equally popular. Wondering why? Find out in the next section.
Why Is Mangosteen Popular?
Mangosteen is not only delicious but also extremely healthy. Traditional medicine uses its pulp, juice, and rind to treat chronic inflammatory disorders (2).
Recent scientific studies suggest that this fruit possesses strong antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (3).
The credit goes to its rich phytonutritional profile.
The active compounds in mangosteen play a crucial role in battling cancer, diabetes, heart, and brain diseases.
To know how mangosteen treats such conditions, keep reading.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Mangosteen?
Mangosteen is effective against inflammatory conditions like diabetes, constipation, skin diseases, and potentially arthritis. Its antioxidant activity may help fight cancer.
1. Controls Diabetes
Oxidative stress and insulin resistance can cause diabetes. Hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose levels) is often the result of free radical damage. Free radicals are active chemical ions that interfere with the functionality of your organs – in this case, the pancreas (4).
Antioxidants counter-attack free radicals. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods like mangosteen can boost the antioxidant levels in your body.
Mangosteen contains phytochemicals, including xanthones and mangostins. These are potent antioxidants that can neutralize free radical activity. Mice studies suggest that mangostins and xanthones can bring down fasting blood glucose levels (4), (5).
They can also improve the health of insulin-producing pancreatic cells (β-cells of the islets of Langerhans) in diabetic mice. Therefore, mangosteen is a promising antidiabetic and anti-hyperglycemic agent (4), (5).
2. Treats Acne And Microbial Infections
Extracts of this tropical fruit possess excellent antimicrobial properties. Bacterial strains, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium, Propionibacterium acnes, and Bacillus subtilis, are susceptible to mangosteen phytochemicals (6), (7).
Mangosteen xanthones – mangostin, gartanin, and isomangostin – can reduce the inflammation caused by Propionibacterium acnes infection, which is commonly known as acne (6).
In a study conducted in Thailand, patients with acne applied mangosteen fruit rind extract on their face for 12 weeks. Mangosteen fruit rind extract showed about 67% reduction of comedonal skin-colored bumps, inflammatory lesions, and scars in these subjects (8).
The xanthones in this fruit also inhibit fungi from Epidermophyton, Alternaria, Mucor, Rhizopus, and Aspergillus species (6).
3. Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
The principle bioactive compound in mangosteen fruit, alpha-mangostin, has potent anti-inflammatory effects. It inhibits the secretion of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers in your body (9).
Alpha-mangostin can interact with the genes producing these compounds (such as interleukins and nitric oxide) in your body and control the severity of chronic inflammatory diseases (9).
Mangosteen also has strong anti-allergy effects. You can apply mangosteen-based products or extracts topically to control eczema. Eating this fruit may also help in reducing the severity of heart and lung diseases. It is also effective against diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, chronic ulcers, and neurodegenerative conditions (3), (6).
4. May Prevent Cancer
Mangosteen xanthones have a variety of biological activities. The most studied property is its anticancer effect. Alpha-mangostin, beta-mangostin, and gamma-mangostin were effective on various human cancer cells (10).
These xanthones have been proven to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancerous cells. They have also shown preventive effects against breast, prostate, and colon cancers in laboratory experiments (11), (12).
Mangosteen xanthones employ several cell signaling pathways to stop cancer progression. However, they need in-depth research to be applied to humans. It is best to observe caution before consuming mangosteen products, especially if you are battling cancer (11), (13).
5. Helps In Weight Loss
The production of pro-inflammatory compounds increases with an increase in fat deposition. These compounds cause collateral and chronic damage to vital organs, such as the heart, kidneys, brain, lungs, and liver (5), (14).
East Asian medicine used native fruits like mangosteen to treat obesity and related conditions. The active molecules in it, like alpha-mangostin, inhibit the pancreatic enzymes that are responsible for fat accumulation (5).
Various clinical trials investigated the role of mangosteen in weight loss and inflammation. Along with decreasing total cholesterol and LDL levels, mangosteen extracts may also promote HDL (good cholesterol) levels in your body (5), (14).
6. Makes Skin Look Younger And Healthier
A build-up of free radicals in your accelerates aging. High level of oxidative stress affects most of your body’s organs, including your skin. Your skin starts to show symptoms of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation (15).
Having a diet rich in antioxidants can maintain the appearance of your skin to an extent. Fruits like mangosteen have a strong antioxidant profile. Their active phytochemicals, such as xanthones, scavenge the free radicals from the skin cells (15), (16).
Mangosteen xanthones inhibit the accumulation of collagen-inhibitory compounds (like pentosidine) in your skin. This allows ample collagen to boost the elasticity and moisture-holding capacity of your skin (16).
7. Regulates Blood Pressure
The xanthones in this tropical fruit also demonstrate cardioprotective effects. They fight free radicals and cholesterol accumulation in blood vessels (18).
The antioxidant property of xanthones can bring down the risk of atherosclerosis and ischemic heart attack. This is why having mangosteen may offer protection from hypertension and bleeding disorders (18).
8. A Potent Antioxidant
The pericarp, flesh, and peel of mangosteen contain varying amounts of xanthones. These biomolecules are potent antioxidants. Protocatechuic acid, coumaric acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid are the most abundant phenolic acids found in mangosteen peel (19), (15).
Anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, epicatechin, xanthones, cyanidin-3-sophoroside, and cyanidin-3-glucoside are few of the flavonoids identified in it (15).
Therefore, mangosteen (and its extracts) is used extensively in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. The antioxidants in it are responsible for its analgesic, anti-cancer, anti-aging, and antiobesity effects of mangosteen fruit (15).
Does mangosteen only contain xanthones? Are there no other nutrients in it?
No! Like any other exotic fruit, mangosteen has excellent nutritional value. Find out more details in the following section!
Nutrition Details of Mangosteen
|Nutrients||Unit||1 Value per 100g||1.0 cup, drained 196g||1.0 cup, 216g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.58||1.14||1.25|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||17.91||35.10||38.69|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||1.8||3.5||3.9|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||2.9||5.7||6.3|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||2||4||4|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||35||69||76|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||µg||0.0||0.0||0.0|
That’s the profile of canned mangosteen.
Eating whole fresh mangosteens provides impressive phytonutrition. The flesh, pericarp, and skin of mangosteen contain xanthones, anthocyanins, and several flavonoids. It also contains phenolic acids like caffeic acid and ferulic acid.
All these active molecules in mangosteen work cumulatively to bring about its health benefits.
Now, let’s find out how to enjoy this fruit!
How To Eat Mangosteen
The mangosteen fruit is as big as a tennis ball. It has a beautiful dark violet peel. It has a firm and fibrous shell before it ripens. On ripening, it becomes soft and almost mushy.
To open a mangosteen, you need to get rid of its shell with a sharp knife.
Hold the mangosteen in both hands and try to pry it open gently with your thumbs.
Once the rind cracks, you should be able to pull the halves apart easily.
Be careful when you are opening the fruit. Its purple juice may stain your clothes or skin.
Inside, you will find its creamy white pulp arranged in equal segments. This part of the fruit is soft, sweet, and sour, delicious, and heavenly!
You can relish this exotic fruit in different ways. The most preferred preparation is mangosteen juice.
Want to know how to make it?
How To Make Mangosteen Juice And Tea
Mangosteen juice is a simple and flavorful drink enjoyed by locals and tourists in Southeast Asia. All you need to make it is mangosteen flesh. Here’s how you can make it!
Simple And Quick Mangosteen Juice
What You Need
- Mangosteen fruits
- Other fruits of your choice
- Sharp knife
- Electric juice blender/juicer
- Honey or sweetener (optional)
- Milk or water (for consistency)
- Ice cubes or crushed ice (optional)
- Apron (to avoid staining your clothes)
Let’s Make It!
- Wash the fresh mangosteens thoroughly by running them under water.
- Get rid of the firm shells with the help of a sharp knife.
- Carefully cut through the rind. Beware of staining your clothes!
- Scoop out the white flesh from within.
- To a blender, add the mangosteen flesh, honey, and other fruits of your choice.
- Add milk (for a smoothie) or water to adjust the consistency. Blend until you get a smooth juice.
- Pour the juice into serving glasses.
- You can top the juice with crushed ice or ice cubes for a refreshing twist.
And tThere you go – your homemade mangosteen juice is done and waiting to refresh you!
This fruit’s flesh is already mildly sweet. Taste the raw juice before adding honey/sweetener.
Another way of having mangosteen is by brewing its tea.
Tasty And Healthy Mangosteen Tea
What You Need
- Mangosteen fruit or powder
- Sharp knife
- Boiling pot/teapot
- Food processor or dehydrator
- Drinking water
- Sugar/sweetener (optional)
Let’s Make It!
- Wash the fresh mangosteen fruit thoroughly under running water.
- Get rid of the firm shell with a sharp knife.
- Cut through the rind carefully. Don’t stain your clothes!
- Pull the skin apart using both your hands to separate the inner flesh from the purple rind.
- If you want to go the traditional way, you can sun-dry these rinds. You can also use a food dehydrator or processor to speed up this step.
- Collect the dried rind pieces and add to a pot of boiling water to purée them. You can also use a food processor for this step
- Turn off the heat to cool the rind purée.
- You can also use a food processor for this stepto make the rind-purée
- To a teapot, add the required amount of water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the puréed rind and sugar/sweetener. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let it steep.
- Add juices/spices of your choice (optional).
- Serve it warm or hot!
If you don’t like tea and juice, you can try having mangosteen extract capsules. This way, you won’t miss out on your daily fruit intake too!
But is it safe to have mangosteen every day? Will it trigger any side effects?
Find out in the next section.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Mangosteen?
Recent scientific literature claims that there are no side effects of having mangosteen. However, there is insufficient evidence for the same (16).
When used as a weight-loss supplement, mangosteen supplements did not cause any adverse effects. They only brought down body weight and cholesterol levels (20).
But a study reports drug interactions with its extracts. A few Thai fruits, including mangosteen, were able to modify the liver enzymes that are involved in metabolizing certain drugs (21).
If you are on blood thinners or heart-related medications, observe caution. You may need to avoid mangosteen if advised (21).
Researchers are also not sure about the safety of mangosteen during pregnancy or lactation.
However, these were small-scale and short-term studies.
The safety of mangosteen can only be established based on more data collected over an extended period.
In any case, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider about the safety of mangosteen.
Mangosteen is a Southeast Asian dark purple tropical fruit featured in many dishes. This exotic fruit is used in traditional medicine to treat many chronic inflammatory disorders. The benefits of mangosteen can be attributed to its rich phytonutrient content. It may help manage diabetes, aid in weight loss, and regulate blood pressure. In addition, its natural antibacterial properties and the broad range of antioxidants make it beneficial for your skin. However, excessive consumption may interfere with blood thinners or medications for heart problems. Since the safety standards have not been determined, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before consuming mangosteen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is mangosteen a Superfood?
Mangosteen is packed with powerful antioxidants that help treat many ailments. The presence of a wide variety of nutrients makes mangosteen a superfood.
How many mangosteens can I eat in a day?
There is no specific recommended dosage of mangosteen. However, intake of mangosteen two to three times a day is considered safe.
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