African mango dietary supplements have received much attention in the last several years. Irvingia gabonensis, also known as bush mango, dika nut, or wild mango, is a fruit indigenous to western and west-central Africa. It’s not a true mango, but tastes similar to the mango we frequently see on grocery store shelves. Inside its yellow juicy pulp is a nutrient-rich seed that’s been recently publicized as a diet supplement.
The seeds of African mango are rich in fiber, polysaccharides, and protein. The fiber contained in the seeds may slow the emptying of the gastrointestinal tract, which may in turn result in slower absorption of sugars consumed. Studies in rodents suggest that African mango has properties as an emulsifier that may slow intestinal motility and increase feelings of satiety.
So far, very limited research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of African mango seed extract on human health. The studies that have been conducted so far were small in scale. Some were conducted by the manufacturers of African mango supplements. Others had methodological issues, and some of the studies conducted in animals have limited generalizability to human populations. No studies have followed subjects using the African mango for more than short periods of time, so long-term results are unknown. However, some of the small studies that have been conducted to date suggest that African mango could potentially have a beneficial effect on weight loss.
A study in human subjects showed that subjects who were administered African mango extract consumed slightly less food than control subjects. The subjects who consumed African mango extract experienced reduced waist measurements and decreases in body fat mass compared to the control group that did not consume the extract. However, another clinical study did not find statistically-significant decreases in body fat mass after subjects consumed African mango. As a result of the conflicting study outcomes, it’s uncertain whether African mango can actually decrease body fat.
Some research suggests that African mango seed extracts could have some beneficial effects on blood sugar. One small clinical trial documented that subjects who consumed African mango seed extracts showed modest decreases in blood sugar after use.
A few small-scale clinical studies have observed that African mango extracts may also decrease serum cholesterol levels. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, commonly considered to be “bad cholesterol” associated with heart attacks, decreased in some studies. In other studies, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, so-called “good cholesterol,” had increased in subjects using African mango extracts. One in vitro study suggested that African mango extract might restrict triglyceride uptake and fat cell proliferation in laboratory cultures. Since these results were in laboratory cultures, it was noted by the researchers that these results might not apply to oral ingestion of African mango extract in the human body.
A laboratory study of rodents suggested that African mango seed extract acts as a diuretic, increasing urination over a period of time.
Larger studies with more rigorous methodology are needed to help evaluate the claims made by supplement manufacturers to determine if African mango seed extract consistently assists with weight loss, cholesterol reduction, and blood sugar control.