by Karen Appold
Learn all about this Southeast Asian fruit that may have weight loss benefits.
What it is
Garcinia cambogia is a small, roundish fruit that’s used to promote weight loss. When ripened, it has a deep, reddish-purple skin. It comes from evergreen trees in the mangosteen family and is native to Indonesia. It also grows in India, Southeast Asia and Central and West Africa.
It is believed that an ingredient from the fruit’s rind — a natural extract called hydroxyl-citric acid (HCA) — can expedite weight loss. When garcinia cambogia is added to foods, they seem to be more filling. People in Southeast Asia have been using this herbal supplement for centuries for its weight loss properties, as well as a sweetener.
How it works
HCA extract helps with weight loss by suppressing appetite and blocking fat. It achieves the latter by hindering citrate lyase, an enzyme that makes fat from carbs. In particular, it slows the production of visceral fat, which is stored around your belly. This herb also slows the production of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides.
HCA decreases appetite by increasing your serotonin levels and stabilizing mood. If serotonin levels are low, you may feel anxious and depressed. Consequently, you may be prone to eat more to relieve stress. But when serotonin levels are optimum, you’ll be in a better mood and less apt to eat due to stress. You’ll also feel fuller for a longer time period, and your cravings for carbohydrates and sugars will decrease.
Other nutrients found in the fruit’s rind help your body make glycogen. These molecules tell the body when it’s full. Garcinia cambogia gives the body higher amounts of glycogen so your brain is signaled sooner that the stomach is full.
In a Purdue University study, individuals who took 400 milligrams daily for eight weeks lost an average of nine pounds.
HCA is also rich in anti-oxidants that remove free radicals from the body and promote good health. Some believe it can prevent cancer, although research is needed to support this.
As a supplement, garcinia cambogia is available in different forms, including powders, extracts, capsules, and juices. Extracts have also been used to make ointments and teas. Most of these products list HCA as an active ingredient.
Karen Appold is a medical writer based in Lehigh Valley, PA.