Although mangosteens are somewhat unfamiliar in North America, they’re common in the rainforest areas of Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Each round, glossy, purple fruit is capped with a light green calyx which holds it in place on the stem. The outer rind of the fruit is thick and rubbery; inside are sweet, delicious, snow white segments similar in design to that of an orange. Each segment contains one to four bitter-tasting seeds. Similar species, which are orange and yellow in color, grow in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.
European explorers found the fragile mangosteen plant to be difficult to transport. While determined traders were able to present them to England in 1789, they weren’t successfully cultivated for another 50 years. Early descriptions of this exotic fruit’s flavor are intriguing: floral, sweet-tart, “something peculiar and indescribable,” “like that of the finest nectarine, but with a dash of strawberry and pineapple added.”
Health Benefits of Mangosteen
Low in calories and high in fiber (100 grams equal about 13% of the recommended daily amount), mangosteens have lots of essential nutrients, but no saturated fats or cholesterol. The potassium content helps control heart rate and regulate blood pressure, which in turn aids in stroke and coronary heart disease prevention. Healthy amounts of manganese and magnesium are also present, and new research suggests that xanthones – a powerful antioxidant found almost exclusively in mangosteen – have properties that fight pain, allergies, infections, skin disorders, and fatigue while supporting intestinal health.
Mangosteen’s vitamin C content is another advantage, providing the body with a water-soluble (easily absorbed) antioxidant, while staving off infections and scavenging harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, and folate help the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
This not-so-typical fruit is one of five noted for its life-changing potential. See: 5 Tropical Fruits that Can Change Your Life
However, consume mangosteen in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Mangosteen Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), fresh
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
Studies Done on Mangosteen
Mangosteens have been used in numerous anti-cancer studies, with positive results. One study showed how mangosteens can significantly slow the growth of cancerous colorectal tumors.1 Another indicated the potential to successfully slow prostate cancer.2
The growth of skin cancer cells was inhibited using mangosteen extracts,3 proving that this relatively unknown tropical fruit may have future significance in the fight against cancer. Importantly, one study concluded that mangosteen could eventually prove “chemopreventive,” or prevent the need for chemotherapy.4
Mangosteen Healthy Recipes:
Mixed Spring Greens with Champagne-Citrus Vinaigrette
|Mixed spring greens or spinach
||2 mangosteens, peeled and segmented
||¼ cup chopped almonds, toasted
||Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
|1 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
||1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed mangosteen juice
||½ tsp. Dijon mustard
||1½ tsp. freshly grated orange peel
|½ tsp. honey
||½ tsp. each of sea salt and black pepper
||1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Use a sharp knife to cut around the outside middle of the mangosteen, about half an inch deep. Using both hands, use your thumbs to pry open the fruit and remove white fruit segments (not unlike an orange) at center.
- Spread chopped almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast lightly in a 350-degree oven (about 5 minutes). Combine all but the oil in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place spring greens in a large salad bowl, toss with vinaigrette, and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Makes 4 servings.
(Adapted from Dr. Mercola’s book Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type)
Mangosteen Fun Facts
A botanist/historian offered a $100 reward to anyone who could substantiate the oft-passed rumor that, prior to their successful shipment from Trinidad in 1891, Queen Victoria had offered 100 pounds (money) to anyone who would bring her a mangosteen.
From the exotic reaches of Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, mangosteens are a bit unfamiliar to many in the U.S., but deliver for anyone looking for lively flavor and the nutritional benefits to go with it. This glossy purple fruit (with a few different colored varieties) is low in calories, high in fiber, and contains powerful antioxidants, including xanthones, vitamin C and B-complex vitamins, such as thiamin, niacin and folate. These and other phytonutrients neutralize harmful free radicals and help the body fight infection. Studies have shown that mangosteens have the potential to slow the growth of cancer cells and may be chemopreventive.
If you've never tried this delectable fruit, try mangosteen segments in your next garden salad. You might discover a new favorite fruit.