African mango is an African tree that is native to northern Angola, including Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda. The African mango thrives in the tropical wet and dry climate zone. The African mango tree produces edible fruits, similar to mangoes, that have a protein-rich center seed.
The fruit can be eaten raw or made into jelly, jam, and juice. The seeds, also known as a dika nut, are eaten raw or roasted after removing the tough seed coat. The seeds of the African mango contain trace amounts of several minerals including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. They also contain high concentrations of certain amino acids. The fruit is commonly used in traditional Nigerian and Cameroonian cuisine.
The fruit of the African mango is high in fiber, which suggests that it may have beneficial metabolic properties (1). Diets high in fiber are known to influence blood lipids. The assumption is that soluble fiber content slows digestion and absorption of dietary sugar. The fiber can also increase the production of bile acids, which helps to clear cholesterol from the intestinal tract.
A small study that included only 40 participants found that African mango seeds had a decrease in cholesterol levels in obese people living in Cameroon compared with participants that only received an oat bran placebo (2). The participants consumed one gram of seed, three times per day, for a total of 1 month while also consuming a normal diet. In addition to cholesterol changes, the people that consumed African mango seed also lost an average of 5 pounds. This was only a small study undertaken in Cameroon. It is unknown how these results would translate to people living in other countries and consuming a typical American diet.
A systematic review that analyzed data from all of the randomized controlled trials with African mango concluded that there have not been enough high-quality trials to determine if there is an effect of the fruit or nut on body weight of cholesterol (3). The authors concluded that the trials had flawed methodology, including inappropriate methods of randomization to treatment and concealment of treatment. The daily dosage of African mango was inconsistent between the trials. Some of the trials also had participants on restricted calorie intakes, which could have caused weight loss irrespective of African mango consumption. More studies are needed on participants from varied backgrounds, as current studies have been limited to the African population.
In summary, African mango is not yet reliably proven to promote weight loss or help regulate cholesterol levels.
1) Ngondi JL, Etoundi BC, Nyangono CB, Mbofung CM, Oben JE. IGOB131, a novel seed extract of the West African plant Irvingia gabonensis, significantly reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight humans in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled investigation. Lipids Health Dis. 2009 Mar 2;8:7. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-8-7.
2) Ngondi JL, Oben JE, Minka SR. The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon. Lipids Health Dis. 2005 May 25;4:12.
3) Onakpoya I, Davies L, Posadzki P, Ernst E. The efficacy of Irvingia gabonensis supplementation in the management of overweight and obesity: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Diet Suppl. 2013 Mar;10(1):29-38. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2012.760508.