By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical fruit said to offer a number of health benefits. Often touted for its antioxidant effects, mangosteen is sometimes referred to as a “superfruit.” The fruit tastes slightly sweet and tart.
Mangosteen is available canned or fresh but is more commonly found as a juice or supplement powder. Mangosteen juice products typically include the fruit, rind (which is inedible in whole fruit form), and pulp of the fruit. Mangosteen is hard to find in the United States, but it can make a healthy addition to your diet.
The USDA does not provide nutrition information for fresh mangosteen. The following information is for 1 cup (196g) of mangosteen that has been canned in syrup and drained (1).
- Calories: 143
- Fat: 1.1g
- Sodium: 13.7mg
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Fiber: 3.5g
- Protein: 0.8g
- Carbs_ A 1-cup serving of canned mangosteen provides 143 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrate. Just 3.5 grams of the carbs come from fiber.
- Fat_ There is just over 1 gram of fat in a 1-cup serving of canned mangosteen.
- Protein_ Mangosteen provides less than a gram of protein in a single serving.
- Vitamins and Minerals_ Mangosteen is a good source of folate and manganese.
In Southeast Asia, mangosteen rind has been used for medicinal purposes for generations. Proponents claim that mangosteen can also help conditions including acne, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Some also suggest that mangosteen may promote healthy skin and weight loss.
May Aid Disease Prevention
In experimental research, scientists have shown that mangosteen extract may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-tumor properties (2,3).
Mangosteen contains xanthones, a class of polyphenolic compounds known for their antioxidant activities. Some scientists believe that these compounds may be helpful in the fight against diseases including tuberculosis and malaria. But human trials are lacking (3).
May Aid Treatment for Mood Disorders
Some researchers believe that an extract derived from the pericarp of mangosteen has neurobiological properties and therefore potential as a therapeutic treatment for certain types of mental illness.
According to a research review published in 2019, mangosteen’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, neuroprotective, and mitochondrial-enhancing properties make it theoretically useful as an adjunctive psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. But study authors state that much more research needs to be done as studies completed so far have been scarce and the few studies that have been conducted have been small in scope (4).
May Improve Immune Health
In one of the few clinical trials testing the effects of mangosteen, researchers found that mangosteen may help boost the immune system. Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the study involved 59 healthy adults. For 30 days, study participants took either a placebo or a mangosteen product containing vitamins and essential minerals (5).
By the study’s end, members of the mangosteen group had experienced a significantly greater improvement in immune response compared to members of the placebo group. Mangosteen also appeared to reduce levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation). More recent studies have also suggested that mangosteen has the potential to improve immune function, but more high-quality human trials are needed to fully understand this potential benefit (6).
May Help Fight Cancer
According to one study, in vitro and animal studies have suggested that xanthones inhibit the proliferation of a wide range of human tumor cell types giving it the potential to prevent and treat cancer. But researchers also note that while there is compelling evidence to suggest that xanthones from mangosteen may be a “remarkable candidate” for chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic strategies, further research must be conducted before the compounds can be used in the treatment of cancer (7).
Furthermore, a report published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, scientists warn that cancer patients should use caution before consuming mangosteen products. Mangosteen can potentially interact with cancer treatments and also affect blood sugar levels, the report’s authors noted (8).
May Aid Diabetes Prevention and Management
According to a 2019 research review, mangosteen plant extract may have anti-diabetic properties. Study authors say that a large volume of in vitro and animal studies have shown that mangosteen extract may have potential for use in anti-diabetic medications.
Researchers also explain that a nationwide survey in the Philippines suggested that the use of mangosteen as tea or eaten raw could potentially curb diabetes in the local population. Study authors also note, however, that more thorough clinical trials on humans should be conducted (9).
While health experts acknowledge that it is possible to have an allergic reaction to mangosteen (10). published reports are rare. Researchers have tested patients with birch pollen allergy and found that mangosteen is usually well tolerated. Those with birch pollen allergy often cannot tolerate any fruit (11). There is even some (limited) evidence suggesting that mangosteen has anti-allergy benefits.
Preliminary animal research suggests that xanthones have the potential to interfere with normal blood clotting. It’s not known whether mangosteen xanthones may interact with blood-thinning medication (such as warfarin) (12)
In a small study, some of the side effects of an oral mangosteen extract included tiredness, constipation, dry throat, headache, and indigestion (13).
If you are looking for the whole fruit or the canned version, you are most likely to find it in Asian markets or online. When purchasing canned products, be sure to check the label for added sweeteners. If canned in juice or syrup, you can count on added sugars, but draining and rinsing can decrease the amount you consume.
You may also find mangosteen juice, mangosteen tea, or mangosteen supplements in capsule or powder form at health food stores, online, or in Asian markets.
When It’s Best
Mangosteen is primarily grown in Thailand where it is harvested between June and August. For some time, there was a ban on mangosteen in the United States because of concerns over the Asian fruit fly, but the ban was lifted in 2007. To choose the best fresh mangosteen, select one with a deep purple color. It should be relatively firm. Make sure that the top stem (sepal) is intact and that it has a raised flower pattern on the bottom.
Storage and Food Safety
If you buy fresh mangosteen, you should plan to use them quickly. The fruit will only stay fresh for about 2–3 days. The fruit should be refrigerated until you are ready to use it. Mangosteen should not be frozen.
- Mangosteen, canned, syrup pack. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- Gutierrez-Orozco F, Failla ML. Biological activities and bioavailability of mangosteen xanthones: A critical review of the current evidence. Nutrients. 2013;5(8):3163‐3183. doi:10.3390/nu5083163
- Obolskiy D, Pischel I, Siriwatanametanon N, Heinrich M. Garcinia mangostana L.: A phytochemical and pharmacological review. Phytother Res. 2009;23(8):1047-65. doi:10.1002/ptr.2730
- Ashton MM, Dean OM, Walker AJ, et al. The therapeutic potential of mangosteen pericarp as an adjunctive therapy for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Front Psychiatry. 2019;10:115. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00115
- Tang YP, Li PG, Kondo M, Ji HP, Kou Y, Ou B. Effect of a mangosteen dietary supplement on human immune function: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Med Food. 2009;12(4):755-63. doi:10.1089/jmf.2008.0204
- Gutierrez-Orozco F, Chitchumroonchokchai C, Lesinski GB, Suksamrarn S, Failla ML. α-Mangostin: Anti-inflammatory activity and metabolism by human cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2013;61(16):3891‐3900. doi:10.1021/jf4004434
- Shan T, Ma Q, Guo K, et al. Xanthones from mangosteen extracts as natural chemopreventive agents: Potential anticancer drugs. Curr Mol Med. 2011;11(8):666‐677. doi:10.2174/156652411797536679
- Yeung S. Mangosteen for the cancer patient: Facts and myths. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2006;4(3):130-4. doi:10.2310/7200.2006.022
- Aizat WM, Jamil IN, Ahmad-Hashim FH, Noor NM. Recent updates on metabolite composition and medicinal benefits of mangosteen plant. PeerJ. 2019;7:e6324. doi:10.7717/peerj.6324
- Ask the doctor: Does mangosteen have any health benefits? Harvard Women’s Health Watch. May, 2012
- Eriksson NE, Werner S, Foucard T, Möller C, Berg T, Kiviloog J, et al. Self-reported hypersensitivity to exotic fruit in birch pollen-allergic patients. Allergology International. 2003;52(4):199-206. doi:10.1046/j.1323-8930.2003.00303.x
- Chairungsrilerd N, Furukawa K, Tadano T, Kisara K, Ohizumi Y. Effect of gamma-mangostin through the inhibition of 5-hydroxy-tryptamine2A receptors in 5-fluoro-alpha-methyltryptamine-induced head-twitch responses of mice. Br J Pharmacol. 1998;123(5):855-862. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0701695
- Suthammarak W, Numpraphrut P, Charoensakdi R, et al. Antioxidant-enhancing property of the polar fraction of mangosteen pericarp extract and evaluation of its safety in humans. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016. doi:10.1155/2016/1293036