Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is an exotic, tropical fruit with a slightly sweet and sour flavor.
It’s originally from Southeast Asia but can be found in various tropical regions around the world.
The fruit is sometimes referred to as purple mangosteen because of the deep purple color its rind develops when ripe. In contrast, the juicy inner flesh is bright white.
Though mangosteen is a relatively obscure fruit, it shouldn’t be overlooked, as it may offer many health benefits due to its rich supply of nutrients, fiber, and unique antioxidants.
Here are 11 health benefits of mangosteen.
1. Mangosteen is highly nutritious
Mangosteen is relatively low in calories yet provides many essential nutrients.
A 1-cup (196-gram) serving of canned, drained mangosteen offers:
- Calories: 143
- Carbs: 35 grams
- Fiber: 3.5 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Protein: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 9% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Vitamin B9 (folate): 15% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 7% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 6% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 10% of the recommended daily intake
- Copper: 7% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 6% of the recommended daily intake
The vitamins and minerals in mangosteen are important for maintaining many bodily functions, including DNA production, muscle contraction, wound healing, immunity, and nerve signaling.
Moreover, a single cup (196 grams) of this fruit provides almost 14% of the RDI for fiber — a nutrient often lacking in people’s diets.
Summary: Mangosteen provides a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber while being low in calories. These nutrients are important for maintaining many functions in your body.
2. Mangosteen is rich in powerful antioxidants
Perhaps one of mangosteen’s most significant attributes is its unique antioxidant profile.
Antioxidants are compounds that can neutralize the damaging effects of potentially harmful molecules called free radicals, which are linked to various chronic diseases.
Mangosteen contains several nutrients with antioxidant capacities, such as vitamin C and folate. Plus, it provides xanthones — a unique type of plant compound known to have strong antioxidant properties.
In several studies, the antioxidant activity of xanthones has resulted in anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-aging, and antidiabetic effects.
Thus, xanthones in mangosteen may be responsible for many of its potential health benefits. Still, more human research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
Summary: Mangosteen contains vitamins with antioxidant capacity, as well as a unique class of antioxidant compounds known as xanthones.
3. Mangosteen may have anti-inflammatory properties
The xanthones found in mangosteen may play a role in reducing inflammation.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that xanthones have an anti-inflammatory effect and may reduce your risks of inflammatory diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Mangosteen is also rich in fiber, which offers various benefits. For instance, some animal research indicates that a higher-fiber diet may help reduce your body’s inflammatory response.
Though this data is encouraging, more research is needed to better understand how mangosteen affects inflammation and disease progression in humans.
Summary: Plant compounds and fiber in mangosteen may have anti-inflammatory effects according to animal research. More studies are needed to understand how this fruit may reduce inflammation in humans.
4. Mangosteen may have anticancer effects
Population studies show that diets rich in vegetables and fruits like mangosteen are associated with reduced incidences of cancer.
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Specific plant compounds in mangosteen — including xanthones — have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may help fight the development and spread of cancerous cells.
Multiple test-tube studies reveal that xanthones can inhibit cancer cell growth, including in breast, stomach, and lung tissue.
Similarly, a small number of studies observed that this compound may slow the progression of colon and breast cancer in mice.
Though these results are promising, insufficient research has been done on humans.
Summary: Test-tube and animal research indicates that xanthones in mangosteen may protect against cancer. However, high-quality human research on this topic is lacking.
5. Mangosteen may promote weight loss
In the health and wellness industry, one of mangosteen’s biggest claims to fame is its potential to aid weight loss.
One study found that mice on a high-fat diet who received supplemental doses of mangosteen gained significantly less weight than mice in the control group.
Similarly, in a small, 8-week study, people who supplemented their diets with 3, 6, or 9 ounces (90, 180, or 270 ml) of mangosteen juice twice daily tended to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than the control group.
Additional research on mangosteen and obesity is limited, but experts theorize that the fruit’s anti-inflammatory effects play a role in promoting fat metabolism and preventing weight gain.
Ultimately, more studies are needed to better understand how mangosteen may fit into an effective weight loss plan.
Summary: Some animal and human research suggests that mangosteen may play a role in weight loss and obesity prevention. Still, more studies are needed.
6. Mangosteen supports blood sugar control
Both test-tube and animal studies show that xanthone compounds in mangosteen may help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
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A recent 26-week study in obese women found that those receiving 400 mg of supplemental mangosteen extract daily had significant reductions in insulin resistance — a risk factor for diabetes — compared to the control group.
The fruit is also a good source of fiber, a nutrient that can help stabilize blood sugar and improve diabetes control.
The combination of the xanthone and fiber contents in mangosteen may help balance blood sugar. However, more research is needed.
Summary: Plant compounds and fiber in mangosteen may contribute to reduced blood sugar. Still, current research is insufficient.
7. Mangosteen promotes a healthy immune system
Fiber and vitamin C — both of which can be found in mangosteen — are important for a healthy immune system.
Fiber supports your healthy gut bacteria — an essential component of immunity. On the other hand, vitamin C is needed for the function of various immune cells and has antioxidant properties.
Additionally, some research suggests that certain plant compounds in mangosteen may have antibacterial properties — which could benefit your immune health by combating potentially harmful bacteria.
In a 30-day study in 59 people, those taking a mangosteen-containing supplement experienced reduced markers of inflammation and significantly greater increases in healthy immune cell numbers compared to those taking a placebo.
Your immune system requires many different nutrients to function optimally. Mangosteen may be a healthy choice to include alongside other nutrient-dense foods as part of a balanced diet.
Summary: Research suggests that mangosteen may increase your number of immune cells and reduce inflammation — potentially boosting immune health.
8. Mangosteen helps maintain a healthy skin
Skin damage from sun exposure is a common occurrence worldwide and a major contributor to skin cancer and signs of aging.
One study in mice treated with supplemental mangosteen extract observed a protective effect against ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in the skin.
What’s more, a small, 3-month human study found that people treated with 100 mg of mangosteen extract daily experienced significantly more elasticity in their skin and less accumulation of a particular compound known to contribute to skin aging.
Researchers assert that mangosteen’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity is the main reason for these skin-protective effects, but more studies in this area are needed.
Summary: Research suggests that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in mangosteen may protect skin cells from damage associated with sun exposure and aging.
9–11. Other potential health benefits of mangosteen
Mangosteen may also have a positive impact on your heart, brain, and digestive system:
- Heart health. Animal studies show that mangosteen extract effectively reduced heart disease risk factors like LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Brain health. Studies indicate that mangosteen extract helps prevent mental decline, decrease brain inflammation, and improve symptoms of depression in mice, though human studies in this area are lacking.
- Digestive health. Mangosteen is packed with fiber. Just 1 cup (196 grams) provides about 14% of the RDI. Fiber is essential for digestive health, and high-fiber diets help promote bowel regularity.
Though these results are promising, human studies in these areas are lacking.
It’s still too early to make definitive claims regarding mangosteen’s role in supporting brain, heart, and digestive health in humans.
Summary: Research suggests that nutrients and other plant compounds in mangosteen may support optimal digestive, heart, and brain function.
How to eat mangosteen
Mangosteen is easy to prepare and eat — though it may be difficult to find depending on where you live. The fruit’s season is relatively short, which often limits its availability.
Your best bet is to look for it at specialty Asian markets, but be aware that fresh mangosteen can be quite expensive. Frozen or canned forms may be cheaper and easier to find — but be mindful that canned versions often contain added sugar.
The fruit can also be found in juice form or as a powdered supplement.
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If you happen to score a fresh supply, choose fruits with a smooth, dark purple outer rind. The rind is inedible but can be easily removed with a serrated knife.
The inner flesh is white and very juicy when ripe. This part of the fruit can be eaten raw or added to smoothies or tropical fruit salads for a delicious boost of flavor.
Summary: Fresh mangosteen can be difficult to come by, but frozen, canned, or juiced forms are more common. The inner flesh can be eaten by itself or enjoyed in a smoothie or salad.
Why you might want to avoid mangosteen
Very few adverse health effects have been reported from consuming mangosteen in its whole form, and it’s likely safe for most people.
However, more concentrated forms — like supplements, juices, or powders — are not 100% risk-free.
Early research suggests that xanthones found in herbal supplements may slow the process of blood clotting.
Because mangosteen is a rich source of xanthones, it may be a good idea to avoid concentrated sources of it if you have a blood clotting condition or are taking blood-thinning medications.
Research to determine whether mangosteen supplements are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women is currently insufficient, so it’s probably best to avoid it during these life stages.
Always consult your doctor or another qualified health professional before making significant changes to your diet or taking a new nutritional supplement.
Summary: Mangosteen is likely safe for most people but may increase your risk of bleeding. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a new supplement or changing your diet drastically.
Mangosteen is a tropical fruit originating from Southeast Asia.
It’s revered for its many potential health benefits — most of which are related to its nutritional profile and unique antioxidant content. Still, many of these perceived benefits have yet to be scientifically proven in human studies.
Suggested read: 10 science-based health benefits of grapefruit
Fresh mangosteen may be difficult to come by, as it’s a relatively obscure fruit. But canned, frozen, and supplemental forms are more common.
It’s juicy, delicately sweet flavor makes it a delicious addition to smoothies and fruit salads. Try it for its culinary appeal or potential health benefits — it’s a win either way.