If you are thinking that you are reading health benefits of some exotic variety of mango, you are wrong. Then, what is mangosteen? Mangosteen is purple coloured fruit native to islands of Indonesia and Malaysia. Today it is cultivated in parts of Southeast Asian and South Asian countries.
Purple Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) belongs to plant of genus Garcinia, which also includes other species Cherapu / Button Mangosteen (Garcinia prainiana), Chaircheulo / Lemon drop mangosteens (Garcinia madruno), African mangosteen or Imbe (Garcinia livingstonei) and Kokum (Garcinia indica). Kokum is well known fruit in Ayurveda and has found many industrial, culinary and medicinal uses.
Mangosteen fruits are deep purple coloured, cricket ball shaped fruits. The outer rind is tough similar to pomegranate and is about 5-10 mm thick. The manogsteen pericarp / rind bears yellow coloured latex, bitter in taste and stains clothes black. The fruit bears white coloured, in very much contrast to its rind, 4-10 soft, fleshy and juicy arils similar to oranges. Seeds, about 1-4 in each aril, are bitter in taste and inedible. Arils are sweet, fragrant, tangy, juicy and are delicacy. This unique appearance and flavor of Mangosteen got it named as “queen of tropical fruits” and grab attention in other fruit markets. This queen fruit was believed to be favorite fruit of Queen Victoria during the colonial period.
Mangosteen cultivation is done mainly in tropical Asia and fruits are exported globally. Apart from its use as fruits, its peel, rind and hull have medicinal use. Other parts which are useful are its bark and roots. Mangosteen tree is tropical evergreen and grows upto 20-80 feet tall. Trees bear fruits during monsoon – ranging from June till October. Leaves of mangosteen are very similar to mango, hence possibly the name.
USDA ban on this fruit in early 2006 somehow could not reduce the excitement about this exotic fruit. Today Xango juice (commercial whole mangosteen fruit juice) is popular amongst health conscious Americans.
Uses of Mangosteen
Fresh mangosteen fruit are very commonly eaten raw. They are often served as desserts in Thai restaurants. Today canned or frozen mangosteens are also available. Freeze dried and dehydrated arils of mangosteen fruits are also consumed. Though they do not offer quite the same unique flavor as fresh mangosteen, but it increases shelf life of mangosteen products. In Malaysia, seedless arils are boiled in equal amount of sugar and few cloves for 10-20 minutes to make mangosteen jam. Mangosteen seeds are sometimes eaten after boiling or roasting. Mangosteen pericarp with its high pectin content is treated with salt and used to make purpulish jelly.
Mangosteen twigs are used as chew sticks in Ghana. Mangosteen wood is dark brown and heavy and used for making furniture. The rind contains black dye which is used in China for tanning leather. It finds its used in paints and lacquer industries. A gum resin – Gamboge, is obtained from its bark and used as pigment. Mangosteen kernels have high fatty acid content and are ground to produce a vegetable butter.
Various parts of the plant are used for making traditional medicines in south east Asia and has health benefits for various ailments. It is used as powder made from dried fruits, or dired rind, or decoction of rind, leaves or bark.
Nutritional Value of Mangosteen
Often the fruit is not eaten for its nutritional content but its flavor, which is very unique. Apart from its delicious taste, it offers good source of fibers, vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, potassium and calcium. Arils of the fruit are rich in dietary fibers and contains saccharose, dextrose and kerrelose.
The part of the fruit which has found to be good source of phytonutrients and bioactive chemicals with health benefits is its peel. Mangosteen pericarp is rich source of polyphenols including xanthones and tannins. These chemicals protect the plant from insects, fungus and bacterias, but are of great health benefits. Mangostin is class of xanthonoids derived from Mangosteen peel, benefits of which are popularly researched. Research have shown Mangostin to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer and antiviral properties. Often whole fruit juice is used to enjoy health benefits of these polyphenols in Mangosteen pericarp, which also offers purple colour to the juice. Around 60 different xanthones with different health benefits have been isolated from mangosteen pericarp, bark and roots so far. As rightly pointed out, mangosteen fruit is unique in that it is the most abundant source of a diverse “natural” chemical library of xanthones and is largely responsible for their health promoting properties. The rind of the fruit is also rich in protein pectin. Seeds of Mangosteen bear fatty acids around 3% by weight. They also contain Vitamin C and other phytonutrients.
Health benefits of Mangosteen
While native people have been enjoying health benefits of mangosteen, medicinal uses of mangosteen have been popular only since 18th century. Tough not very much a superfruit, it is rich in phytochemicals. Various parts of mangosteen offers health benefits and potential cure for many ailments. While scientific evidence is very limited in health benefits of mangosteen, as not much human clinical trial studies are done. Still some of these Mangosteen benefits are discussed below:
Antioxidant property of Mangosteen
Mangosteen, especially the rind contains high amount of naturally occurring polyphenols. Mangosteen Xanthones, Catechins, Polyphenols, Proanthocyanidins and Sterols are believed to be responsible for antioxidant properties of Mangosteen and thus prevents body from free radicals and other harmful substance. Like other antioxidants they are helpful in health of internal organs including cardio vascular system and brain. Antioxidant rich Mangosteen is believed to be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms. Drinking whole mangostene juice is good way of enjoying antioxidants in Mangosteen.
Mangosteen as an anti-allergic
Initial reports suggest anti allergic property of Mangosteen. It is helpful in supporting immune system and preventing allergies. However this seems to be contradicting in nature, as allergies caused by mangosteen have been reported as well.
Anti-inflammatory property of Mangostano
Extract of Mangosteen pericarp have reported to have showed anti-inflammatory properties. This is beneficial for people with inflammatory pain like arthritis, sciatica, joint pain. As astringent and anti-inflammatory, Thia traditional medicines have been using mangosteen fruit hull for treating intestinal inflammation.
Mangosteen prevents microbes
Bioactive Mangosteen Xanthones have reported to have antimicrobial property. It prevents growth of bacteria, virus and fungus. Dried powder of mangosteen rind is used in treaing eczema, acne and skin infection. In Malaysia, ointment made from mangosteen leaves, raw banana and benzoin is applied for curing male circumcision wound. Various Thai medicines have been using mangosteen extracts for healing of wounds. A study has reported antibacterial activity of mangosteen pericarp on controlling bacteria causing leptospirosis and tuberculosis.
Home remedy for Gastro intestinal disorders
Traditionally, mangosteen has been used in treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal worms, urinary disorders, gastric and intestinal ulcers, abdominal pain, amoebic dysentery, gonorrhea, gleet, cystitis, etc. Often decoction made from mangosteen rind, leaves and bark are used for the purpose. The health benefit can be attributed to Astringent, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial property of Mangosteen.
Benefits of mangosteen for women
Decoction of Mangosteen root has been used traditionally to regulate menstruation. Mangosteen with necessary vitamins and minerals is also helpful in reducing premenstrual symptoms like dizziness, mood swings, hypertension, etc.
Natural cure for Cancer
Very recent claims from preliminary research and mangosteen juice marketers talk about anti cancer properties of mangosteen xanthones. Mangostin is class of chemicals which have shown promising results on treating cancers and tumours, including prostate cancer and breast cancer. Research on Xanthones is promising in cancer treatment options. However more human studies are manifested to establish this link in treatment of cancer. Further this health benefit can also be attributed to antioxidant property of Mangosteen.
Mangosteen benefits for skin
Benefits of mangosteen products to skin can be attributed to its astringent nature and antimicrobial property. Mangosteen products are found to be effective in treatment of acne, eczema and other skin infections. Mangosteen extracts are now common in soaps, creams, face wash and other skin cosmetic products.
Mangosteen in Oral Care products
Mangosteen has been used in herbal toothpaste. As an antibacterial agent, it helps prevent gum diseases. Mangosteen juice serves as mouth wash, while mangosteen gel is used in cure of gum problems.
Other benefits of mangosteen
There are unproven claims of Mangosteen helpful for reducing cholesterol and weight loss. Similarly, mangostin is believed to have anti-daibetic effect, but high sugar content in mangosteen overweighs this health benefit. Mangostin is also considered as central nervous system depressant and can cause increase in blood pressure. Some believe this excotic fruit increases your sexual libido.
Are there health benefits of Xango Juice?
We are not writing any review for Xango juice or making any case for health benefits of xango juice. However, customers should make their own judgement before consumption of such products and mangosteen supplements. Often information communicated in multi-level marketing products cannot be relied upon. Same is true with Xango products. Read / contribute this Wikipedia authors discussion on Xango if you feel Xango is fraud. It should be understood that not many clinical trials have been conducted on mangosteen and its health benefits, as compared to other superfoods.
Side effects of Mangosteen
Research suggests interference of mangosteen xanthones with blood clotting or blood thinning medications. Xanthones may depress nervous system and excessive dose of mangosteen supplements should be avoided. While people in Southeast Asia use it as anti-allergic substance, consumption of mangosteen has reported allergies, skin irritation or hypersensitity in some people.
Mangosteen and Pregnancy – Though it is found safe during pregnancy, its consumption during pregnance should be under consultation of physician.
Where to Find Mangosteen?
So you want to try this exotic fruit. Just rush to nearest local grocery stores, look for ones which have supplies from China, Thailand or other south east asian countries. You can definitely buy mangosteen and mangosteen products online.
How to select good quality fruit? One with highest number of stigma lobes on top are ones you should choose. They ought to have more fleshy segments and less seeds.
How To Eat A Mangosteen
Wash mangosteen fruit with running water to remove all chemical residue, or grab some organic Mangosteens. With a sharp knife apply a cut in the rind around circumference. Cut should be deep enough for the rind which is generally around 7-10 mm thick. This will result in two purple cups of mangosteen, one with white arils. Fleshy arils are loosely held inside the fruit and can be easily removed by spoon. Look for this video on how to eat mangosteen.
- English: Mangosteen, mango steen, mangostene,
- Malay – manggusta, Mangusta or manggistanl, mesetor, semetah, or sementah
- Portuguese – mangostao
- Sinhalese – Mangus
- Tamil – Sulambali
- Hindi- Mangustan, Manggis, mangostan, Mangostin, Mengut,
- German – Maogostane
- Burmese – Mengkop, Mengut. Mimbu, Young-zalai;
- French – mangostanier, mangoustanier, mangouste or mangostier;
- Dutch – manggis or manggistan
- Vietnamese – mang cut
- Philippines – mangis or mangostan
- Other names – Amibiasine, Fruit des Rois, Garcinia mangostana, Jus de Xango,
Some Mangosteen recipes
Mangosteen Jam: Start with about 200 grams of mangosteem pulp or puree. Add sugar syrup prepared heating around 70 grams of sugar with equal amount of water. Boil until soft. Add 2 tablespoon of lime juice for tangy taste and 1 tabplespoon of pectin for jelly structure. Stirr this until your jam is thick enough. Store in airtight container.
Mangosteen smoothie – Blend about 250 grams of mangosteen puree with 100 grms of milk cream and a cup full of water. Add sugar as per taste and serve.Image Credits: Flickr - Matsuyuki, Flickr - Haynes