The mangosteen tree is native to Southeast Asia, where it is found on the islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Philippines. Its name might suggest it is some variation of the fruit mango but that is not the case. This evergreen tree can only grow in the tropics and belongs to the family Guttiferae and the genus Gracinia. It yields the mangosteen fruit yearly.
Mangosteen is a fruit the size of a tangerine or a small orange. The skin is inedible and dark purple in color and the inside contains 6 to 8 white-colored wedges. These wedges or vesicles are juicy and sweet with an astringent taste that resembles the taste of the citrus fruits. The mangosteen is soft and juicy when ripe and can be pried open by just pressing it with the thumbs. Mangosteens are well-known for their delicious taste and unique flavor. They are used as salads and eaten fresh and are also traditionally used in Asia for medicinal purposes and their peel is used to extract a natural dye for textiles.
- Mangosteen is called ‘the queen of fruits’ because it was believed that Queen Victoria had promised knighthood to whoever would bring her a mangosteen from the East. It was not something possible at that time because mangosteens spoil very quickly.
- Fresh mangosteens remain inaccessible to those living on the West because the climate outside of the tropics is just not suitable to grow them. Also, importing them has the risk of bringing pest flies which hover about the fruit.
- More than half of the world’s supply of mangosteen comes from Thailand.
- Mangosteen is gaining in popularity and its exports have been steadily increasing due to its medicinal value as a natural antibiotic, antiseptic etc.
Benefits of Mangosteen
Following are just some of the benefits of the mangosteen fruit:
- Highly Nutritious
1 cup of canned mangosteen contains:
- Calories: 143
- Carbohydrates: 35 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 3.5 grams
- Vitamin B2: 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin B9: 15% of the RDI
- Vitamin B1: 7% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
- Manganese: 10% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
- Copper: 7% of the RDI
- Rich in Antioxidants
Mangosteen is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are necessary compounds in fighting off free radicals and keeping the body safe from diseases. Mangosteens contain Xanthones which are natural, plant compounds that help in reducing oxidation and give mangosteens their anti-inflammatory and anti-aging qualities. The antioxidants offer protection from flu and fever to cancer and heart problems. For more natural sources of antioxidants, read this.
- Maintains Heart Health
The vitamins and minerals in mangosteen keep your heart healthy and protect it from risks of heart attack, heart stroke and heart failure. Potassium helps to keep the sodium levels in your body at a normal range and this maintains your heart rate at normal, which contributes to overall heath of the heart. For more potassium-rich fruits and vegetables that help control blood pressure, read this.
- Helps in Losing Weight
Mangosteens can play a role in weight loss mechanisms, as shown by some studies on animals and humans. Test groups who consumed mangosteen saw more weight loss than the control group who did not consume any mangosteen.
- Maintains Blood Sugar Levels
Mangosteen helps in maintaining blood sugar because of two things. Firstly, it contains fiber, and secondly, it contains Xanthone compounds. Research has shown the important role fiber plays in regulation of blood sugar and Xanthone compounds play a similar role in stabilizing sugar levels by increasing insulin tolerance. Thus, incorporating mangosteens in your diet is a good idea.
Research shows that mangosteen contain anti-inflammatory properties and that their consumption does not have side-effects like medicines generally have. The anti-inflammatory action of mangosteen comes from Xanthone and fiber and helps your body fight off diseases like cold, cancer and diabetes.
- Immune System Booster
Mangosteen boosts the immune system as it contains vitamin C and fiber. While fiber promotes gut health, vitamin C is required for the normal working of cells of the immune system. A study showed that participants who took mangosteen supplements had an increased efficiency in their body’s immune system.
- Improves Skin
The antioxidants in mangosteen help fight off the effects of aging. By overcoming the action of free radicals, the antioxidants keep wrinkles away. Also, the antioxidants and vitamin C boost skin health and prevent acne. For reading about other fruits that improve skin health, click here.
- Traditional Medicinal Uses
Mangosteen has many medicinal uses that are practiced in the East. They have been used to treat skin maladies such as eczema since ages. The peel is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, gonorrhea and urinary disorders. The roots of mangosteen are used to treat menstrual problems.
Mangosteen contains compounds like Xanthones that give it antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Due to this, it helps the body fight off diseases, maintains gut health, heart and brain functioning, and makes it an optimal ingredient in skincare products.