A favorite fruit of Queen Victoria, mangosteen is often eaten in jams and desserts. The tropical fruit grows mainly in Southeast Asia, India, Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Florida, and it is roughly the same size as a small orange.
With a thick, red rind, the flesh of the fruit is white. The rind of mangosteen is a deep purple when ripe, and the fruit is both tart and sweet. For centuries, the bark, rind, pulp, and juice of the mangosteen have been used for medicinal purposes, particularly in Southeast Asia.
Mangosteen juice is frequently sold in blended juice, and mangosteen supplements are available. Mangosteen extracts are also included in skincare products.
Health Benefits of Mangosteen
The health benefits described below are just a few of those associated with the mangosteen.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Mangosteen contains several antioxidants, including vitamin C and folate. Antioxidants reduce the damaging effects free radicals can have on the body.
Mangosteen is particularly rich in antioxidants known as xanthones, and these compounds have been shown to protect against diabetes, cancer, aging, and inflammation.
A Japanese study found xanthones reduce the growth of leukemia cells, and research conducted in Thailand showed these antioxidants are similarly effective in slowing the growth of bile duct cancer.
The anti-inflammatory effects of xanthones have been demonstrated in both animal and human studies.
A Thai study suggests the consumption of xanthones is associated with reduced inflammation among obese patients, and Chinese researchers have found patients who have had heart attacks have less heart damage if they are treated with xanthones.
2. Helps Control Blood Sugar
Mangosteen is a high-fiber food, and research suggests adequate fiber intake helps control blood sugar. A one-cup serving of mangosteen contains 3.5 grams of fiber, roughly fourteen percent of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Multiple studies have found soluble fiber (the type found in mangosteen) could aid in the prevention of diabetes. Adequate soluble fiber intake slows the body’s absorption of sugar, which could potentially enable patients with diabetes to have better glucose management and reduce the need for medications.
According to current guidelines, men who are fifty years old and younger need thirty-eight grams of fiber each day, and women of this age need twenty-five grams.
Men who are fifty-one years old and older should aim for thirty grams of daily fiber intake, while women in this age group need twenty-one grams. Laboratory and animal studies have both shown the xanthones in mangosteen are likely to benefit blood sugar regulation.
In addition, a twenty-six-week research study conducted on obese patients found the daily consumption of four hundred milligrams of mangosteen extract was associated with significant reductions in insulin resistance (one of the major risk factors for diabetes) as compared to a control group.
3. Boosts the Immune System
Current data suggests mangosteen boosts the immune system as a result of its fiber, vitamin, and antioxidant content. The fruit contains nine percent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of vitamin C, one of the key vitamins associated with improved immune function.
Vitamin C provides support to the immune system by protecting the integrity of the body’s cells and by stimulating the production of white blood cells to combat infections.
In fact, the cells within the body’s immune system have specialized receptors that accept and store vitamin C, releasing it into cells as needed.
Vitamin C helps T cells (natural killer cells) find and destroy foreign bodies and infections more easily, and the vitamin also helps neutrophils (bacteria-fighting cells) to eliminate bacterial infections from the body.
Numerous studies have shown vitamin C is effective in the prevention of respiratory infections such as the common cold. A small study of twenty-six patients compared the effects of one thousand milligrams of daily vitamin C supplements with a placebo.
The results indicated eighty-five percent of those in the placebo group contracted the common cold, but those who had taken the vitamin C contracted the common cold at a rate of only forty-seven percent.
Among patients in the vitamin C group who did get a cold, the length of their illness was fifty-nine percent shorter than that of the placebo group. In conjunction with other foods and supplements, mangosteen can be an important dietary source of vitamin C, especially for patients who do not enjoy other fruits.
4. May Help Cognitive Function
Although more research is needed, early studies conducted on animals suggest mangosteen extract may help cognitive function. For example, an eight-month study of mice published in 2014 investigated the use of mangosteen pericarp supplements.
At the end of the study, the mice treated with the supplements displayed significant reductions in cognitive impairment associated with aging, and they also had reduced levels of tau and amyloid-beta, two substances associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The mice in the study also had an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor; this substance supports the function and growth of neurons, and it is believed to have a protective effect against dementia.
5. Helps Clear Acne and Blemishes
The benefits of mangosteen are highly regarded as an traditional remedy for skin conditions, and research confirms it helps clear acne and blemishes.
Substances in the rind of the mangosteen are particularly effective in combating several types of bacteria that can cause acne. In a Thai study published in 2010, scientists extracted dichloromethane from the fruit rinds.
Next, they tested the dichloromethane and other rind extracts on both Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis, two of the most common types of acne-causing bacteria.
The results indicated the dichloromethane extract had the highest bacteria-fighting ability of all the tested substances. This extract is found in a variety of gels, lotions, and other skincare products designed to control blemishes.
Patients interested in using mangosteen as part of their skincare routine may wish to perform a patch test before using it over large areas. If irritation occurs, it might be beneficial to consult a dermatologist.