- Known in Asia as the “queen of fruits,” mangosteens are relatively unknown in the U.S., but they’re a staple in tropical regions of the world such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia
- Resembling a large plum, but with white, the sectioned fruit inside like an orange, mangosteens are unique; sweet and juicy, the taste is described as a combination of strawberry, peach, and vanilla ice cream
- Xanthones in mangosteen have been found in clinical trials to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, as well as being antiviral and antitumor, studies reveal
- Traditional uses for dried or extracted mangosteen include treating skin infections, acne, wounds, chronic diarrhea, cystitis, gonorrhea, thrush and urinary disorders
- One of the most important functions scientists have discovered about xanthones is their chemopreventive capabilities, which researchers have clinically tested on a number of different cancer types with great success
By Dr. Mercola
It seems the American public is becoming more aware of the health advantages of eating plenty of plant-based foods and so is discovering more types of fruit than the typical bananas, apples, and berries people usually choose when they’re shopping for food.
One that’s been gaining an upsurge in interest in recent years is the mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), known in Asia as the “queen of fruits.”
Common in the rainforest areas of Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, this fruit looks a little like a giant plum on the outside.
The rind, aka endocarp, comes in muted shades of dark red or purple topped with thick “petals” known in botanical circles as a calyx.
Under the skin is a thick, reddish endocarp layer and inside that, the pure white fruit is sectioned similarly to an orange, but that’s where the likeness ends.
Besides eating them raw as fresh, thirst-quenching fruit, described as “delectably sweet” and “like a combination of strawberry, peach, vanilla ice cream, they’re relatively low in calories.
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Mangosteen fruit can be preserved by canning them as jelly, preserves or jam, sometimes spiced with cloves or ginger, but the process may alter the flavor somewhat.
The rind is rich in pectin, the twigs are often used as “chew sticks” in Ghana and China, and the rosin is used to tan leather, according to the horticulture department at Purdue University, which adds:
“Mangosteens are usually eaten fresh as dessert. One need only hold the fruit with the stem-end downward, take a sharp knife and cut around the middle completely through the rind, and lift off the top half, which leaves the fleshy segments exposed in the colorful ‘cup’ — the bottom half of the rind. The segments are lifted out by fork.”
Because the trees can grow up to 60 feet high, traditional harvesting methods in the tropical regions where it’s grown involve going after the fruit with long, telescoping poles with nets or baskets attached, although farmers sometimes climb the trees or use tall ladders.
Once purchased or gathered, they should be placed in a cool well-ventilated place for up to two weeks or refrigerated to keep them longer.
Nutrition and You note that scuffs or cuts to the mangosteen’s outer skin can “leak” the flavor of the skin’s “bitter latex” into the fruit itself, which renders the whole fruit bitter and inedible.
The traditional harvesting methods may be a labor-intensive process, but are worth it, both for the food and flavor profile, as well as for the nutritional aspects, which, as you’ll read, are considerable.
So What Makes Mangosteen Beneficial?
People in the areas they’re grown find them useful for treating skin infections, acne, wounds, chronic diarrhea, and cholera.
Dried mangosteen is used in China for maladies such as dysentery and to make an ointment for eczema and other skin disorders.
A broth of sorts made from the rind is also used for cystitis and gonorrhea, as well as to treat thrush and urinary disorders. In Malaysia, an infusion is taken to regulate menstruation.
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Besides the aforementioned xanthones, other compounds in mangosteen include terpenes, anthocyanins, tannins, and phenols.
Modern clinical uses for extracts of mangosteen include making essential minerals, green tea, aloe vera and multivitamins, and by cancer patients as a dietary supplement.
Tellingly, mangosteens have been tapped to make one of the world’s top-selling plant-based supplements.
Just one 3.5-ounce serving provides more than 5 grams of fiber, which is one of this fruit’s most valuable components.
Fiber is the nutrient that bulks up the food you eat to move it through your colon for disposal as a waste product in a timely manner, which is crucial for good health.
Additional vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, C, an array of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folate, and minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.
As for the benefits the compounds in mangosteens impart, there are several diseases, disorders, and conditions they positively affect:
|Improved vision||Blood pressure|
|Accelerated healing||Boosted immunity|
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From Alleviated Histamine Intolerance to Improved Brain Function
One of the problems mangosteen is noted for improving is fungal infections, including Candida albicans, which is often due to the consumption of too much sugar and grains, high-stress levels and coming into contact with certain parasites, fungi, and viruses.
Fungal overgrowth, in turn, can lead to histamine intolerance. The Alternative Daily lists a number of symptoms below, and further explanation:
|Itching or sudden rash after eating certain foods||A runny nose after eating|
|Multiple food allergies||Eczema|
|Sugar cravings||Frequent fungal outbreaks|
|Fatigue in spite of eight hours of sleep||Candida and/or yeast overgrowth|
|Constant illness for no apparent reason||Moodiness or anxiety after eating certain foods|
“These situations can lead to an overgrowth of yeast in the body which our good bacteria cannot compete with. One of the side effects of fungal overgrowth is known as histamine intolerance.
Histamine intolerance is not as heavily discussed today as other reactions to fungal overgrowth, such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, etc.
However, it is more prevalent than many people realize, and it is often mistaken for something else. The body can experience symptoms of histamine intolerance when the immune system has been weakened by yeast, or a health issue such as an autoimmune disorder.”
In studies, mangosteen extracts also protected the brain from damage done by glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain.
When there’s too much, it can result in neurological injury, aka nerve cell death and the production of more free radicals in the brain.
That’s another reason why mangosteen is lauded as “a promising therapeutic compound” for neurodegenerative inflammation such as the kind that causes Parkinson’s disease, similar to Alzheimer’s disease; it has a protein named alpha-synuclein that causes buildups and subsequent damage, Wellness Resources continues:
“In Parkinson’s disease, the protein damages dopamine-rich parts of the brain which leads to its classic symptoms of depression, flat affect, fatigue, constipation, tremors, balance and gait problems.”
Recent studies show that xanthones impede the buildup of amyloid beta protein that leads to neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease but also occurs in concussions and traumatic brain injury.
Altogether, these and other phytonutrients neutralize harmful free radicals and help the body fight infection. Studies have shown that mangosteens have the potential to slow the growth of cancer cells and may be chemopreventive.
Additional Information on Problems Improved by Mangosteen
Wellness Resources notes a number of other dramatic changes the xanthones and other compounds in mangosteens made in other areas of health, including the prevalence of deadly bacteria (“nightmare bacteria”) superbugs and staph infections, one of the most prominent being MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus).
One reason they’re so dangerous is that they’re resistant to antibiotics, recur alarmingly often in hospitals and kill more than 23,000 people in the U.S. annually. Further:
“These bacteria are now being found in healthy individuals, but occur without symptoms. Rather, the healthy individual is a carrier who unknowingly transfers the germ to another individual.
That person may be immunological susceptible and develop into an infection which can quickly transpire into a life-threatening situation. These killer bacteria can quickly evolve and mutate to avoid antibiotic treatment success.”
Biofilms are a type of dental plaque that contains a slimy buildup of bacteria on the surfaces of your teeth. One type is staph aureus, which includes MRSA.
Mangosteen extract damaged the bacteria’s cell membrane, leading to its destruction.
Xanthones in Mangosteen: Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, Chemoprotective
Health-wise, the mangosteen has been found to contain valuable phytonutrients such as powerful antioxidants, the principal one being xanthones, which scientists identify as chemopreventive.
Researchers from China and the U.S. cooperating in one clinical study noted that, although new cancer strategies are continually being developed, “The treatment and management of malignant tumors still remain a formidable challenge for public health.”
The study authors note that xanthones in nearly every part of the plant are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal.
As well as being antiviral and perhaps most importantly for their research, antitumor, potentially exerting chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity in all the stages of carcinogenesis, including its initiation, promotion, and progression.
As the study observes, xanthones are recognized as the controlling factors in cell division and growth, apoptosis, inflammation, and metastasis:
“Multiple lines of evidence from numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have confirmed that xanthones inhibit proliferation of a wide range of human tumor cell types by modulating various targets and signaling transduction pathways.”
One of the most potent aspects of xanthones is the antioxidant strength they exert when they come up against the excessive reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) produced by carcinogens, including those involved in the development of cancer, including hydroxyl radicals (OH•), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and the superoxide anion (O2−•), according to the study. Additionally:
“Aerobic organisms possess antioxidant systems that function to scavenge ROI. These systems include enzyme-based antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase and glutathione reductase.
Tissue damage, however, can arise from an imbalance in free radicals and antioxidants, resulting in the development of a variety of degenerative disorders.”
The researchers listed numerous cancer types that showed remarkable suppression of cell proliferation when exposed to the xanthones in mangosteens.
Those exhibiting the highest activity were against breast cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, tongue cancer, liver cancer, pheochromocytoma (a rare tumor in the adrenal gland) and colorectal carcinoma.
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Mangosteen Recipe: Mixed Spring Greens With Champagne-Citrus Vinaigrette
If you’d like to give mangosteens a try, here’s a healthy recipe that’s perfect for lunch or dinner:
Mixed Spring Greens with Champagne-Citrus Vinaigrette
- Mixed spring greens or spinach
- 2 mangosteens, peeled and segmented
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted
- Natural salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed mangosteen juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Use a sharp knife to cut around the outside middle of the mangosteen, about half an inch deep. Using both hands, use your thumbs to pry open the fruit and remove white fruit segments (not unlike an orange) at center.
- Spread chopped almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast lightly in the oven at 350 degrees F (about five minutes). Combine all but the oil in a small bowl.
- Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place spring greens in a large salad bowl, toss with vinaigrette and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Makes 4 servings.