By Karen Appold
The African mango is native to tropical rain forests on the African coast. Its scientific name is Irvingia gabonensis (IG). Similar to the mango, IG is nicknamed bush mango, wild mango, or dika nut.
African mango fruit has been used for medicinal purposes for many years in its native region. Health benefits come from the extract in the mango’s seed. IG is comprised of 50 percent fats, 26.4 percent carbohydrates, 14 percent fiber, and 7.5 percent protein.
Healthful fats (i.e., mono- and polyunsaturated fats) keep your heart healthy and contribute to weight loss. Fiber regulates blood sugar and lowers cholesterol.
Protein produces muscle growth and energy.
African mangos also have many nutrients and vitamins, such as vitamin B, which promote a healthy metabolism.
IG also contains leptin, a protein hormone that affects your metabolism and weight. High leptin levels tell your brain you’re full, making you less apt to overeat or succumb to cravings.
Some studies show that nutritional supplements with IG extract can help with weight loss, as well as lower your blood cholesterol levels and improve diabetes control. Researchers believe that the seed’s high fiber content helps to remove cholesterol.
A study published in March 2009 in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease reported that 150 milligrams of IG taken two times a day before meals by 102 overweight and obese people decreased their body weight, body fat, and waist line. African mango also helped to improve other factors associated with cardiovascular health–such as plasma total cholesterol, C-reactive protein, LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and leptin and adiponectin levels. Participants did not alter their diet or exercise regiments.
According to the study, “Irvingia gabonensis extract may prove to be a useful tool in dealing with the emerging global epidemics of obesity, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, and their co-morbid conditions.” Given the study’s findings, more clinical studies with larger sample populations are warranted.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, PA.