How More Mango Could Help Diabetes, Cancer
If mango is not on your grocery list, it may be time to reconsider. A number of new and previous studies indicate that including mango in your diet or as a supplement can have a significant beneficial impact on your health, including the fight against type 2 diabetes and cancer.
What is the magic of the mango?
At the recent Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) gathering, researchers presented some of the latest information on the health benefits of mangos. In particular, they explained that obese animals that consumed 10 grams of freeze-dried mango every day for 12 weeks experienced a decline in blood sugar levels, a result that could prove helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes.
According to Edralin Lucas, PhD, who led the study, “Although the mechanism by which mango exerts its effects warrants further investigation, we do know that mangos contain a complex mixture of polyphenolic compounds.”
Polyphenols are a type of natural chemical found in plants. More than 4,000 different polyphenols have been identified, and their main benefit in the body is antioxidant activity against disease-causing, cell-damaging molecules called free radicals.
In a 2011 study, researchers explored the effect of freeze-dried mango compared with drugs to lower lipids and fight diabetes (e.g., fenofibrate, rosiglitazone) in mice fed a high-fat diet. They discovered that the use of mango “improved glucose tolerance and lipid profile and reduced adiposity [fat] associated with a HF [high fat] diet.”
More about the mango
Mangos (Mangifera indica) are naturally rich in fiber, the antioxidants vitamins A and C, and vitamin B6. The fruit also contains substances called triterpene and lupeol, which have been shown to inhibit skin and colon cancer in the laboratory.
For example, a new study in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine reports that mango extract given to mice protected against photoaging (translation: skin damage such as wrinkles and skin cancer) associated with ultraviolet B rays. A Texas study reported that mango extract was effective in inhibiting colon cancer cell growth.
One of the more interesting studies concerning mango comes from Poland, where researchers reported on mangiferin, an active ingredient in mangos. The authors reported that mangiferin has shown pain-fighting, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, heart-protection, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic benefits, as well as an ability to improve memory and protect the nervous system.
An analysis by experts in India suggested that the antioxidant, antidiabetes, and anti-inflammatory powers of mangiferin are due to its unique structure. Mangiferin also has been shown to effectively inhibit a specific signaling pathway, which the authors explained “partially explains its anti-inflammatory ability and, additionally, points towards its anticancer potential.”
Could mango help with weight loss? Some researchers think so. Several studies indicate that African mango extract (Irvingia gabonensis) is effective in reducing body weight and improving metabolic factors in people who are overweight.
One example comes from a recent study in the Journal of Dietary Supplements that reported on the results of three randomized controlled trials. The authors noted that while the studies indicated significant reductions in weight and waist circumference when compared with placebo, more research is needed because they felt the reporting quality of the studies was poor.
Overall, it appears that mango as food or a supplement offers a variety of potential health benefits in the areas of diabetes, cancer, and weight loss. Is it time for more mango in your diet?
Lucas A et al. Mango modulates body fat and plasma gluose and lipids in mice fed a high-fat diet. British Journal of Nutrition 2011; 106: 1495-1505
Matkowski A et al. Mangiferin—a bioactive xanthonoid, not only from mango and not just antioxidant. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry 2013 Mar; 13(3): 439-55
Noratto GD et al. Anticarcinogenic effects of polyphenolics from mango (Mangifera indica) varieties. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2010 Apr 14; 58(7): 4104-12
Onakpoya I et al. The efficacy of Irvingia gabonensis supplementation in the management of overweight and obesity: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Dietary Supplements 2013 Mar; 10(1): 29-38
Ross SM. African mango (IGOB131): a proprietary seed extract of Irvingia gabonensis is found to be effective in reducing body weight and improving metabolic parameters in overweight humans. Holistic Nursing Practice 2011 Jul-Aug; 25(4): 215-17
Song JH. Protective effect of mango (Mangifera indica L.) against UVB-induced skin aging in hairless mice. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine 2013 Apr; 29(2): 84-89
Vyas A et al. Perspectives on medicinal properties of mangiferin. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry 2012 May; 12(5): 412-25