Most of the mangosteen benefits are related to the high content of xanthones found in this fruit. These organic compounds, found in the phenols class, have been identified in several tropical plants, among which mangosteen is the most noticeable. Out of more than 40 xanthones listed in the composition of mangosteen, two stand out: alpha mangostin and gamma mangostin. Below are presented the characteristics and some of the most important health benefits of this fruit.
Purple Mangosteen Characteristics
Purple mangosteen, which is popularly known simply as the mangosteen, represents a tropical evergreen tree that presumably originates in Indonesia. It is grown in countries with hot, humid climates, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The height of the tree ranges between 7 and 25 meters, while its round edible fruits are between 6 and 8 cm in diameter. As its name suggests, the rind of the ripe mangosteen is deep reddish purple. The fruit is composed of the pericarp, pulp, and seeds.
The pericarp, or the rind, is the part of the fruit that abounds in xanthones. The pulp, which contains the seeds, is edible and has a taste and texture that resembles that of a peach, as it is citrusy, tangy and sweet.
Anti-carcinogenic Effect of Alpha Mangostin
The antioxidant effect of mangosteen, and more precisely of the xanthone alpha mangostin, explains the anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties of this fruit. Recent scientific studies revealed that a prolonged exposure to this particular xanthone leads to the suppression of the development of tumors.
Treating Bacterial Infections with Mangosteen
Alpha mangostin is also very effective for treating bacterial infections, such as infections from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci. Against the first bacterium, alpha mangostin can be used individually or in tandem with gentamicin, while against the latter it can be used in combination with vancomycin hydrochloride.
Additional research revealed that alpha mangostin improves the effect of such antibiotics as ampicillin and minocycline. More than that, the xanthone is also able to inhibit the actions of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Lower Cholesterol Levels with Gamma Mangostin
The second best xanthone found in mangosteen is known to lower the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. Australian researchers revealed that gamma mangostin prevents LDL from being oxidized. In fact, the antioxidant effect of gamma mangostin is presumably stronger than the one of vitamin E, which is among the most effective antioxidants discovered until now.
Gamma Mangostin and Inflammation Management
COX-2 (cyclo-oxygenase-2) represents an enzyme that plays a significant role in the development of inflammation. Arthritis medication fights this exact enzyme. As gamma mangostin reduces dramatically the production of this enzyme, by consuming mangosteen people manage to reduce their pain and inflammation. It is presumed that gamma mangostin will become a key ingredient in anti-inflammatory drugs. At the moment, this xanthone proved to be even more efficient than anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed for gout and arthritis.
The anti-inflammatory effect is achieved without altering the stomach lining and without affecting the coagulation of blood. Since these two effects are frequently observed when taking anti-inflammatory medication, mangosteen became even more valuable.