Step into the world of African mango – not the succulent fruit itself, but its potent extract that’s making waves in the supplement market.
Sourced from the seeds of the Irvingia gabonensis tree, native to the tropical climates of Africa, African mango supplements have intrigued the health-conscious community for their purported benefits.
These supplements have their roots deep in traditional African medicine, and today, they’ve found their way into the heart of modern wellness culture, promising a spectrum of potential health benefits – from weight management to heart health and beyond.
That said, African mango supplements seem poised to be the new heavy-hitter in our supplement stack.
But are they truly as great as they’re made out to be, or is it all just sweet talk (pun intended)?
Well, we’ll find out soon enough.
The Science Behind African Mango
African Mango supplements, as you may or may not tell from their name, don’t owe their origin to typical mango fruits.
Instead, their source is a majestic wild forest tree, Irvingia Gabonensis, also known as Bush Mango or African Mango. This magnificent lean tree found in the African jungle rises between 50-130 feet high and sports dark green leaves and vibrant yellow blossoms.
But the true value of the Irvingia Gabonensis tree lies in the seeds of its fruit – not the tree itself.
Encased in smooth yellow spheres – often referred to as ‘Mangoes’ or ‘African Bush Mangoes’ – these seeds have been widely utilized across various sectors, including food production, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
They have proven particularly useful in the food industry, where their unique properties lend themselves to acting as an effective soup thickener.
In terms of their nutritional composition, the seeds of the Irvingia Gabonensis are quite an impressive powerhouse.
They contain about 680 calories per 100g, largely attributable to their high fatty acid content.
These fats primarily exist in the form of medium-chain triglycerides similar to those found in coconut oil. These types of fats are known for their quick digestion and energy-boosting properties.
Alongside fats, the seeds contain a moderate proportion of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and mineral content.
However, the story of African mango seeds doesn’t end at their macronutrient profile.
Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, and Micronutrient Profile
The seeds also host a spectrum of non-caloric bioactive compounds, including ellagic acid, ellagitannin structures, and flavonoids such as quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside and kaempferol-3-O-glucoside.
Renowned for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, these compounds have been associated with various health benefits, which is the main reason behind the African mango supplement’s popularity, but more on that later.
In addition, the seeds provide a respectable amount of Vitamin C and essential minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.
African Mango and Weight Management
Examining the potential impact of African mango on weight management involves exploring a lot more than just trusting the marketing.
In order fully understand how and if African mango can help you manage or lose weight, we have to look at the scientific literature.
Potential Appetite Suppression Properties
One of the major appeals of African mango as a weight management tool is the alleged appetite-suppressing effects of its seed extracts.
Some people argue that the high fiber content in these seeds may contribute to feelings of satiety, as dietary fiber is known to expand in the stomach, potentially curbing the desire to eat by creating a sensation of fullness.
However, that’s a pretty slim argument in our book.
In addition, there’s some speculation that certain active compounds present in African mango, such as the aforementioned ellagic acid and flavonoids, might play a role in moderating hunger signals.
These compounds have been linked with blood sugar regulation which is one of the key factors (if not the key factor) in controlling appetite. But, all of that is extrapolated from relatively unrelated data from studies on completely different topics, and direct evidence connecting them to appetite suppression in the context of African mango is, as you can assume, non-existent.
Potential Impact on Metabolism and Fat Burning
Another popular claim surrounding African mango is that it can boost metabolism and enhance fat burning.
This belief primarily stems from the high content of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in African mango seeds. MCTs are unique in that they are quickly absorbed and metabolized by the body, potentially leading to an increase in energy expenditure and fat oxidation.
However, it’s important to remember that while MCTs have shown decent potential in promoting weight loss, the concentration found in African mango seeds may not be sufficient to produce these effects.
Furthermore, how these fats interact with other components in the seeds and how this might impact their metabolic effects remains unclear.
Speaking of fats (lipids), there was also a study that showcased a decrease in total triglyceride levels, total cholesterol levels, and LDL-C levels while simultaneously observing a minor, yet not overly significant, increase in HDL levels.
Drawing from that, there does seem to be a correlation between African mango consumption and blood lipid levels, which does indicate some level of direct impact on metabolism.
But as you’ll learn in just a moment, a great deal of these studies showcasing positive effects are rather flawed in their methodology, reporting quality, bias, etc.
Studies and Evidence Supporting Its Role in Weight Loss
Despite the widespread enthusiasm about African mango’s potential benefits for weight management, the scientific evidence remains questionable at best.
Some of the available studies have reported modest weight loss in participants supplementing with African mango. However, these studies have often been small, haven’t lasted long, have been of varying methodological quality, and on several occasions, have been funded by the supplement or food industry.
All of this makes it rather challenging to draw firm conclusions about the efficacy of African mango for weight loss.
On that note, a systematic review of the literature on African mango and weight loss published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that while some studies showed positive results, the overall evidence was inconclusive due to methodological flaws and the small number of trials.
So, what does all this mean for an average guy or gal looking to lose weight?
Well, while the potential appetite-suppressing and metabolism-boosting properties of African mango may appear intriguing, it’s pretty much safe to say that the only thing you’d stand to lose is money.
As cruel as that may sound, this is a pretty common scenario in the world of weight-loss supplements, as most of these are just overhyped money-grabbers that offer virtually no real-world benefits.
African Mango and Heart Health
African mango is also proposed to have a number of cardiovascular benefits.
But, as with weight management, the existing scientific data on these benefits is far from conclusive.
Effect on Cholesterol Levels
The potential heart benefits of African mango often center around its influence on cholesterol management. Some studies (namely the one cited earlier) suggest that this natural supplement could play a role in improving cholesterol profiles, a critical factor in cardiovascular health.
A few studies indicate that African mango may help to lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol” because high levels can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, raising heart disease risk.
These studies showed that participants taking African mango extract saw significant decreases in their total cholesterol and LDL levels over a period of weeks to a month. These reductions ranged from about a quarter to nearly half of their initial cholesterol levels.
Now, this level of reduction could potentially be quite significant in a real-world context, but at the same time, these are preliminary findings that need further validation.
At the same time, the same studies also pointed to an increase in levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often known as the “good cholesterol”, which helps carry cholesterol away from your arteries, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
Once again, participants saw increases in HDL by almost half, suggesting African mango could possibly both lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol.
But here’s the kicker.
The methodologies of these particular studies were quite flawed, as they didn’t account for dietary changes which were made alongside African mango consumption, so taking these results at face value is not the way to go.
Blood Pressure Regulation
The role of African mango in blood pressure regulation is less clear, with almost no studies (except for the already abovementioned one) exploring this aspect.
But given that the seeds are high in fatty acids, and assuming that the findings of this particular study are correct, it’s not hard to deduce that these supplements could potentially impact blood pressure in a significant way.
However, without direct, high-quality research, any assertion about the African mango’s potential role in blood pressure regulation remains speculative, at best.
Potential Cardiovascular Benefits
Broadly speaking, the supposed cardiovascular benefits of African mango extend beyond cholesterol and blood pressure regulation.
Its antioxidant properties have been suggested to protect against oxidative stress, a key factor in the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Moreover, the presence of dietary fiber and other compounds could potentially have anti-inflammatory effects, another significant factor in cardiovascular health.
However, these potential benefits are largely inferred from the known effects of African mango’s active compounds rather than being directly demonstrated in the context of African mango supplementation.
As such, they should be considered tentative until further validated by comprehensive and rigorous scientific research.
But at the same time, we can’t quite discredit these effects/benefits. It is quite likely that including African mango in your diet or supplement stack could have a positive impact on your overall cardiovascular health.
The issue is – to what degree? Will the betterment be significant enough to justify the cost?
African Mango and Blood Sugar Control
It has been suggested that African mango could positively influence insulin sensitivity and manage glucose levels, so let’s talk about that, as well.
Influence on Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity refers to how responsive your body’s cells are to insulin – the hormone that allows cells to take in glucose for energy. Higher insulin sensitivity is desirable as it allows your body to use glucose more effectively, reducing the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Preliminary research suggests that compounds in African mango may inhibit certain enzymes, such as Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases (PTPs), that are implicated in insulin resistance.
For instance, one compound, known as terminalin, was found to inhibit specific PTPs linked to insulin resistance and stimulate glucose uptake in muscle cells, suggesting it may have potential as a functional food ingredient or supplement for preventing type 2 diabetes.
Managing Diabetes and Glucose Levels
African mango’s influence on blood glucose levels has been examined in several studies.
Some findings suggest that supplementation with Irvingia extract can lead to a reduction in blood glucose levels. In fact, in one study, participants saw their blood glucose decrease by over 20% after ten weeks of supplementation with 150 mg of Irvingia extract before lunch and dinner.
In addition to these findings, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial revealed promising effects on metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Participants taking African mango showed significant decreases in various measures, including waist circumference, glucose levels at different points during a glucose tolerance test, and various blood lipids.
Do Research Findings Back Up Claims About Its Impact on Blood Sugar?
While the studies so far seem promising, it is crucial to remember that much of this research is still in the early stages.
The findings suggest a potential role for African mango in managing blood sugar and enhancing insulin sensitivity, but still, more comprehensive and robust research is necessary before these effects can be confirmed and understood fully.
While these studies, unlike the previous ones, are a bit more trustworthy due to several contributing factors, it’s still too early to make any bold claims.
African Mango and Digestive Health
The fruit of the African mango tree, like many other fruits, are high in dietary fiber.
As you know, dietary fiber plays a key role in our digestive system. It adds bulk to the stool, which can help prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements. Furthermore, dietary fiber can contribute to a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management – a topic closely linked to overall health.
Now, in the context of blood sugar control, fiber slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Moreover, a high-fiber diet can have heart health benefits, such as lowering the risk of developing heart disease by reducing levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
But even with all that said, the influence of African mango on gut health (especially in the form of a supplement) is primarily speculative and founded on established understandings of dietary fiber’s role in maintaining a healthy gut.
Speaking of a healthy gut – it is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiota. This microbiota plays a crucial role in our health, affecting everything from digestion to immunity to mental health.
Dietary fibers, such as those found in African mango, are a primary food source for these gut bacteria.
Certain types of fiber can be fermented by gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have numerous health benefits.
For instance, one SCFA, butyrate, is an important energy source for the cells lining your colon and has been linked to reducing inflammation and promoting gut barrier integrity.
So, in a way, there could be some gut health benefits to taking African mango supplements, but at the same time, probiotics or fiber obtained from natural sources would do a much better job of keeping your gut nice and healthy.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties
As we mentioned in the beginning, African mango has a variety of antioxidants. These beneficial compounds can help neutralize harmful substances known as free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells in a process called oxidative stress, which is linked to several diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
In the fruit, seed, and leaves of the African mango tree, we can find several types of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and mangiferin.
These compounds can help protect the body against the harmful effects of the aforementioned free radicals and oxidative stress.
In addition to those, African mango also has potential anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic inflammation is increasingly being recognized as a fundamental factor in a host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and it would be excellent if African mango could be helpful in this regard.
Certain compounds found in African mango, such as the antioxidant mangiferin, have shown anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory studies.
In totality, the antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory properties of African mango might have a handful of implications for overall health and disease prevention.
Let’s look at the heart health, for instance.
In addition to the discussion regarding lipids we had earlier, antioxidants can protect against oxidative damage to the heart and blood vessels, while anti-inflammatory effects can help prevent or manage heart disease by reducing inflammation in the arteries.
So, there’s definitely room for debate here.
However, once again, we have to circle back to the fact that more research, especially in human subjects, is needed to confirm these findings and fully understand the potential antioxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits of African mango and how best to utilize them.
African Mango and Skin Health
African mango isn’t just beneficial when ingested, but it can also have potential benefits for skin health when applied topically, according to many.
From nourishing and moisturizing properties to potential benefits for skin conditions, African mango is finding its way into numerous skincare products.
The main reason for this is that the African mango seed is particularly rich in beneficial fatty acids, including lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids, which are known for their antimicrobial, antibacterial but also moisturizing properties.
All of these amino acids nourish the skin in their own way, but what generally happens is they replenish its natural lipid layer and help to keep the skin hydrated by preventing water loss.
In fact, the oil from the African mango seed is often compared to cocoa and shea butters for its excellent moisturizing abilities.
African mango may also offer potential benefits for certain skin conditions.
Thanks to its antioxidant content and some of these fatty acids (lauric acid), African mango can protect the skin from oxidative stress, which is a contributing factor in various skin problems, including premature aging, acne, and while it might be a stretch, even skin cancer.
Circling back to the anti-inflammatory properties of African mango – topical ointments with it might also be beneficial for conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, which are characterized by inflammation.
Given all of its potentially nourishing and protective properties, it’s not surprising that African mango is now used in a variety of skincare products. Nowadays, it’s not hard to find it in everything from body lotions and creams to face masks and serums.
However, it should be noted that scientific studies directly investigating these effects on human skin are currently unavailable, so we can’t really delve into any more detail than this.
So, while it is possible for African mango to keep your skin healthy and radiant, at this point, all of this is merely an educated guess or sheer speculation based on general knowledge of its active ingredients.
Safety and Precautions
While it is a supplement of natural origin, before incorporating African mango into your supplement regimen, it’s important to consider the recommended dosage as well as the potential side effects and interactions with other medications.
Currently, the common dosage for African mango supplements varies significantly, ranging anywhere between 150 mg to 3,200 mg taken daily with meals.
While the optimal or effective dose is not yet definitively known due to the lack of scientific evidence, some preliminary data suggest that taking supplements at the higher end of this range may be beneficial.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions
African mango supplements are generally side-effect free, but some studies have noted several side effects in individuals taking them – including headaches, sleep problems, and flatulence.
However, it’s worth noting that similar symptoms were also reported by those given a placebo, suggesting that these side effects may not be directly caused by African mango supplements.
According to Examine, there was one documented case of renal failure linked to African mango consumption in an individual with chronic kidney disease.
However, the causality is uncertain, and rodent experiments have found no evidence of toxicity caused by extracts of African mango seeds.
Nevertheless, it is clear that more research is required to fully understand the safety of African mango supplements, particularly in humans.
Who Should Avoid African Mango Supplements?
Given the uncertain safety profile and limited research, individuals with existing health conditions, particularly chronic kidney disease, should exercise caution with African mango supplements.
African mango, or Irvingia gabonensis, definitely appears to be a potentially beneficial dietary supplement offering an array of potential health perks, including weight management, heart health, blood sugar control, digestive health, skin health, and antioxidant properties.
However, our understanding of these benefits is currently limited and largely based on preliminary, often quite flawed research.
As such, it’s crucial for future studies to confirm these findings if we wish to make any ironclad claims on this supplement.
In the meantime, the consumption of African mango supplements should be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism.