Mangosteen: Is It Worth the Hype?

by in Food News & Trends, September 30, 2009

Like acai berries, mangosteen is another exotic fruit that’s making some super-food lists. You might see supplements or juice drinks that tout the fruit as a cancer cure-all. We looked beyond the sales pitches to find out the basics.

What is Mangosteen?
Originally from southeast Asia, this tropical fruit has an edible maroon or purple outer rind and white tender flesh. You can eat whole mangosteen fruit raw but more often it’s blended into juices (sometimes called “XanGo juice”) or purees. It also comes in supplement form. You probably won’t find the fruit at your grocery store, but I have tried the juice and wasn’t a fan of the flavor. It reminded me of a sour tropical fruit punch with a strong, bitter aftertaste.

Mangosteen powders and teas are also available (and more popular in Asian cultures); natural medicine advocates use them to treat diarrhea, dysentery and urinary disorders. You can also apply topical ointments for skin conditions, but many of these attributes haven’t been scientifically tested.

What’s the Hype?
You may not have even heard of this fruit yet, but some claim it’s a must for reducing cancer risks because it’s so high in antioxidants. According to the American Cancer Society, there’s just not enough evidence to support that it prevents cancer in humans. There is some early research being done to see how mangosteen can help in the treatment of acne, but that’s not exactly a cancer breakthrough.

The fruit does contain high amounts of xanthones, antioxidants that fight inflammation, but beyond these antioxidants, mangosteen fall short on other common fruit nutrients such as fiber and vitamin C.

Are There Risks?
There’s little reliable information about the good or bad effects of eating mangosteen. Some reports suggest that consuming large amounts regularly may cause pH imbalances in your blood, which can be dangerous. This tropical fruit can definitely hurt your wallet, though — a 32-ounce bottle of juice can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 each. And if you ever find yourself eating the raw fruit, be careful if you’re wearing white or a light color — it can stain.

The Bottom Line
There isn’t much strong evidence to support the super powers of mangosteen. Small amounts appear to be safe, but you’re better off getting your antioxidants from other fresh fruits grown closer to home.

Tell Us: Have you tried mangosteen?

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