Mangosteen is a small purple fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. In recent years, news reports and internet influencers have said the fruit has a range of health benefits. It now has a reputation as a “superfood.”
This article will outline what a mangosteen is, look at the science behind the health benefit claims, and explain how to eat mangosteen.
Farmers tend to grow mangosteen in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Thailand. In these countries, people consume it as:
- traditional medicine
Fresh mangosteen is hard to find in the United States for two reasons.
First, mangosteen trees need a fully tropical climate and lots of time to grow. Small farms in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, started in the 1990s, are only now starting to bear fruit.
Second, fresh mangosteen can harbor quarantine pests or non-U.S. native bugs that could threaten the ecosystem. It means mangosteen importers must sterilize the fruit before it enters the country. This sometimes affects the quality, taste, or shelf life.
Mangosteen has many benefits. It contains a range of compounds and substances that are good for human health.
The benefits of mangosteen include:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all fruits provide nutrients that are vital for good health.
One cup of drained, canned mangosteen
Most fruits, including mangosteen, are low in fat, sodium, and calories, helping people maintain a moderate weight. They are also free from cholesterol, which can contribute to chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Fruit is also a good source of nutrients that people in the U.S. often lack, such as:
- potassium, a mineral needed to help maintain healthy blood pressure
- dietary fiber, which helps people maintain a healthy gut
- vitamin C, which helps the body to heal cuts and wounds and to keep teeth and gums healthy
Antioxidants fight free radicals or harmful substances that can build up inside the body. Free radicals can contribute to health problems including:
Studies have suggested that mangosteen contains antioxidants. One study
At the end of the 30 days, the mangosteen group had
Inflammation is a normal part of the immune system. It is the body’s way of removing foreign substances, like bacteria, viruses, or chemicals.
Sometimes, inflammation happens unnecessarily. Other times, it continues after the body has removed the threat. Doctors call this chronic inflammation. It can contribute to health problems including:
In the 2015 study outlined above, scientists found that mangosteen may also act as an anti-inflammatory. They concluded this by measuring the C-reactive protein, a substance that signals inflammation levels. Over the 30 days of the study, levels of this protein in the mangosteen group reduced by an
Some medicines include mangosteen as an ingredient, including:
It is important to note that studies on the health benefits of mangosteen have been small so far. Scientists need more research before they can be sure.
The National Library of Medicine says that there is not enough evidence to say that mangosteen can help with:
It also advises against using mangosteen medicines in the following situations:
- when pregnant or breastfeeding, as there is not enough evidence to say it is safe
- if the person has a bleeding disorder, as mangosteen may slow blood clotting
- for two weeks before surgery, as it may increase the risk of bleeding during or after an operation
Mangosteen and other herbal supplements may also interact with some medications, such as liraglutide (Saxenda).
People can peel the outer skin of the mangosteen and eat the wedges of fruit inside raw.
However, fresh mangosteen is hard to find in the U.S. Lots of mangosteen-based products, including supplements and juices, are available for people who would like to gain the health benefits of mangosteen but have difficulty finding fresh fruit.
Things to bear in mind with these products include the following:
Mangosteen is a small purple fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. It is difficult to grow and import into the U.S.
Studies have suggested that the fruit has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is not yet enough evidence to conclusively prove this.
Some medicines include mangosteen as an ingredient. These include drugs for obesity and gum disease. People who are pregnant, nursing, have a blood disorder, or are about to have an operation should avoid mangosteen-based medicines.