African mango seed has garnered a good deal of attention in the media as a diet supplement. Irvingia gabonensis, also known as dika nut, bush mango, ogbono, or wild mango, is a fruit indigenous to western and west-central Africa.
About a Tree…
The African mango tree can grow over a hundred feet tall and five feet in diameter. It grows best in low-lying, tropically humid areas, often near riverbanks.
Owing to the height of the tree, the African mango is harvested when the fruit falls to the ground in the rainy season (usually July through September). Owing to the rapid decomposition of the fruit without preservation, the flesh of the fruit is usually consumed locally. Once the flesh is removed, there is a single seed within the African mango. The seed is split open with a knife or cutlass, revealing nutrient-rich kernels inside that can be more easily preserved.
These kernels are rich in fatty acids, polysaccharides, carbohydrates and protein. Its chemical components are similar to many other plant and seed molecules. The kernels contain approximately 683 calories per one hundred grams. African mango seeds and kernels are higher in fatty acids than many other seed oils. The fatty acids contain the following acids, in order of occurrence: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, arachidic, caprylic, capric, oleic, linolenic, and linoleic. The fatty acids are highly saturated, and are mostly medium-chain triglycerides, somewhat similar to coconut oil in this regard. African mango seed kernels also contain ellagic acid, methylated derivates of ellegiac acid, and their glycosides. They also contain ellagitannin structures, kaempferol-3-O-glucoside, Quercetin-3-O-rhamnosided, and may also contain diosmetin. In terms of vitamins and minerals, the kernels contain vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and phytate.
Kernel of Truth
The kernels can typically be dried and preserved for less than twelve months, as a result of the difficulties in preserving food in humid rain-forest environments. The kernels, also called nuts, are sometimes dried in the sun or over fireplaces. Once dry, they can be roasted and ground into a condiment paste that’s high in nutrients and trace minerals. The kernel paste is commonly used as a thickening agent for soups and stews.
In Cameroon, a mango cake wrapped in leaves is commonly made for preservation. The kernels are roasted and ground into a paste. Then, they are molded into a cake-shaped tin and left to dry. When the mixture has completed drying, the cake will be removed from the tin and wrapped in leaves. This cake may be called “Etima” or “Dika bread.” The kernels may then be further refined into a flour by grinding the cake into powder.
Scientific Data on the Dika
Preliminary research on very small scales suggests that African mango seed extracts may have beneficial effects on weight loss, blood sugar, serum cholesterol and triglycerides, and body fat mass. However, the research that has been conducted has involved very small sample sizes. The effects of African mango seed extracts on the human body have not been studied over long periods of time. More research is needed to determine if African mango seed will produce consistent results as a fat-burning dietary additive.