Just when you thought you knew every health-promoting fruit out there, another odd-looking purple fruit is making headlines for its powerful anti-cancer properties.
While this exotic fruit may not be as well-known as others, the mangosteen is definitely one you will want to get to know.
Mangosteens (Garcinia Mangostana) grow on tropical evergreen trees believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia.
Today, while they are not as common in North America, this juicy and sweet, yet tangy, fruit is common in the rainforest areas of Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia where it is revered as the “queen of fruits” or the “fruit of the gods.”
The outer rind of a mangosteen is thick and rubbery. Inside, it is divided into numerous, stark-white segments that look similar to an orange. Each of these segments also contains 1-4 bitter-tasting seeds.
One reason why this amazing fruit is not already part of your daily fruit selection, is that until recently, it was actually banned in the US. Until 2007, officials at the US Department of Agriculture believed the tasty mangosteen to be a carrier for Asian fruit flies. (1) But new shipping methods and technology thankfully made importing mangosteens more feasible.
So, Why All the Hype about Mangosteens?
Well, apart from the delicious fruit itself, the entire mangosteen contains some very powerful healing properties that include anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, ant-viral and even anti-histamine just to name a few. Here are just 10 of the most potent health benefits attributed to eating mangosteens.
1. Powerful Anti-Cancer Agent
One mangosteen contains at least 56 different xanthones, the highest of any fruit. (2) Xanthones are phytonutrients that are potent antioxidants.
In fact, xanthones have been shown to be more potent than vitamin E and five times more potent than vitamin C.
There are an array of studies touting the benefits of antioxidants, including their ability to fight cancer. But the Xanthones, alpha-mangosteen and gamma-mangosteen, in particular, are linked to a variety of cancer-fighting properties.
A 2014 study, for example, showed that α-Mangostin suppresses pancreatic cancer cells. (3) A 2008 study found that gamma-mangosteen has aromatase inhibitory activity (fights breast cancer). (4)
Another study found that xanthones in mangosteens slow the progress of prostate cancer. And yet another study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that mangosteen extract has powerful anti-skin cancer effects on skin cancer cell lines, making it a potential natural skin cancer treatment. (5)
A 2011 study again showed the potency of alpha-mangostin, revealing it can eradicate leukemia cells. (6) A further 2012 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that xanthone extracts from mangosteens has anti-colon cancer effects. (7)
The most recent study published in 2016 in the Journal of Oncology, also showed that β-mangostin is able to kill cervical cancer cells. (8) While studies continue, evidence to date clearly shows mangosteen is a powerful cancer fighter.
2. Supports Cardiovascular Heart
Mangosteens are rich in many nutrients and vitamins, including magnesium and potassium, which are key to healthy heart function and blood pressure. As well, the xanthones in mangosteens are not only powerful anti-cancer agents, but they are also shown to prevent atherosclerosis. (9)
Other studies have noted that oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) is linked to atherosclerosis. Australian researchers have shown that gamma-mangostin can protect LDL from oxidation by free radicals and thus protect against the disease. (10)
Further, researchers suggest gamma-mangostin may even help to lower LDL, thereby avoiding the potentially serious side effects caused by anti-cholesterol medications.
3. Potent Anti-inflammatory
The xanthones in mangosteens are responsible for yet another key health benefit. These important nutrients are amazing anti-inflammatory agents. In fact, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that the xanthones in mangosteens are even more potent than a number of anti-inflammatory drugs currently being used for arthritis and gout. (11)
Scientists determined the xanthones stop inflammation by inhibiting your body’s production of the COX-2 enzyme and thus blocking the process that leads to inflammation. (12)
And the most valuable property of these natural anti-inflammatory agents is that the xanthones work without the harmful side effects caused by traditional NSAIDs. Japanese researchers have even stated that gamma-mangostin would make a suitable natural anti-inflammatory medication.
4. Natural Antihistamine
Asthma and other allergen-related diseases are on the rise worldwide. Researchers have also noted that the “complexity and severity of allergic diseases, including asthma, continue to increase especially in children and young adults, who are bearing the greatest burden of these trends.” (13)
Currently, it is estimated that close to 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma and between 200 and 250 million suffer from food allergies. (14)
The good news is that numerous studies show that gamma-mangostin is an effective natural antihistamine. (15, 16) Once again, the powerful xanthones in mangosteen are responsible for its ability to significantly reduce airway inflammation and “hyper-responsiveness” in allergic asthma. (17)
5. Natural Diabetes Remedy
Research shows that mangosteen can not only help to prevent diabetes, but it can also help to control blood sugar levels in those suffering from the disease.
One study shows that mangosteen acts as an alpha-amylase inhibitor (it inhibits the enzymes that cause starches to break down into glucose).
In fact, the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, actually shows that mangosteen contains similar compounds to acarbose, a prescription medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. (18)
6. Alzheimer’s Treatment
It has been shown that mangosteen is an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Other study, however, also suggest that gamma-mangostin has anti-inflammatory effects on brain cells, making it a potential treatment for inflammatory conditions of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease. (19)
7. Improves Digestion
Mangosteen is not only delicious, but it is naturally high in fiber. Eating this type of fiber is known to also increase your intake of prebiotics, a non-digestible food ingredient that promotes the growth of beneficial probiotics.
Essentially, prebiotics serve as the “food” for probiotics, the live microorganisms that live inside your gastrointestinal tract and aid your digestion by essentially cleaning out your gut to ensure things flow properly. A healthy gut is key to overall well-being.
A study also confirmed that the xanthones in mangosteen can help to heal stomach ulcers. (20)
8. Natural Acne Treatment
Mangosteen is used as a natural remedy for acne. One study revealed that because mangosteen possesses significant antioxidant properties, and can further reduce the production of a reactive oxygen species—two factors that affect the growth of acne—it is highly effective as an acne treatment. (21)
It was further found that mangosteen can suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that contribute to acne formation.
9. Natural Anti-Depressant
Interestingly, mangosteen has also been shown to be helpful in cases of depression. For instance, a Japanese study noted that gamma-mangostin is a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist. It responds in a similar fashion to tryptophan, which makes it potentially helpful for depression and/or other anxiety symptoms. (22)
Another 2012 study found similar results, suggesting that mangosteen may be a valuable natural remedy for these types of cases. (23)
10. Powerful Weight Loss Treatment
Mangosteen fruit is juicy, yet quite tart. It is actually this tartness that makes it an effective weight loss remedy. The flesh of the mangosteen contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is a known “fat burner.” (24)
HCA has also been reported to increase the release or availability of serotonin in your brain, thereby making it an effective appetite suppressant. (25) You can drink mangosteen juice or eat the fruit like an orange.