African mango has received much attention in the last few years as a dietary supplement. It goes by many names: wild mango, bush mango, dika, and ogbono.
The African mango is a tree native to western and west-central Africa. It has a superficial resemblance to the true mango commonly consumed in fruit salads, but African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is an entirely different species. When the fruit of the African mango is split apart, a single kernel-filled seed lies within. This seed is rich in rich in fatty acids, polysaccharides, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Extracts from the seed are used in dietary supplements that are marketed to consumers to solve a variety of health complaints.
Research on African Mango Health Claims
Unfortunately, research on these health claims is limited. The small number of studies is complicated by a number of issues, including small sample sizes, methodological flaws, potential conflicts of interest, and lack of long-term data. Other studies have used animal subjects or in vitro cultures, which limit generalizability of the data to human subjects.
Several peer-reviewed studies have concluded that African mango has beneficial effects on weight loss. Some studies have measured this through overall weight and waist circumference, which have been reduced in experimental groups that took African mango supplements. There have, however, been conflicting reports in which one study found body fat loss among participants, while another did not find any reduction in body fat. One study showed that subjects who took African mango ate less food than control subjects who did not take African mango.
There have been some interesting results in blood chemistry. Some research has shown that African mango use can reduce LDL (so-called “bad cholesterol”) cholesterol and increase HDL (so-called “good cholesterol”) cholesterol. Some studies have found reduction in overall cholesterol, while one showed an increase. A small number of studies has shown decreases in blood sugar among test subjects.
A systematic literature review has also conducted in a scientific journal, examining the existing peer-reviewed research on several medicinal plants with purported anti-obesity properties. This review explained that while African mango extract showed some beneficial weight loss results in several studies, it was not as effective as many of the other reviewed plants.
Contents and Side Effects
There also some concerns with purchasing African mango diet pills on the commercial market. A recent peer-reviewed study analyzed seven commercial products claiming to contain African mango extracts. The scientists used ultra high-performance liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry to analyze the contents of the products. Unfortunately, their results showed that many of the products in the study contained little or no African mango material. This is a very problematic result for supplement consumers.
Additionally, use of African mango pills could result in side effects. The most common reported side effects have included headaches, gas, and difficulty sleeping. There has been one reported case study of acute toxic hepatitis resulting in a Turkish patient who took African mango capsules for several days.
While some of the initial scientific research that African mango may have some potential to treat obesity and metabolic disorders, more research is needed to conclusively determine its effectiveness.