African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) and Malabar tamarind (Garcinia Cambogia) dietary supplements have been receiving a great deal of attention recently. These supplements are often marketed with claims of weight loss, lowered cholesterol, and reductions in blood sugar levels.
The African mango is a dietary staple of many people in Western and West-Central Africa. The African mango’s flesh is usually consumed locally, while the single internal seed is split apart to expose the fatty, fiber-rich kernels inside. The kernels are more easily preserved, and they are consumed in a variety of ways: dried, roasted, in paste, flours, and soup thickeners. Most of the supplements on the market today are described by the manufacturers as extracts of the seeds or kernels.
The Malabar tamarind fruit resembles a small pumpkin, though it can be many colors from green to red. It’s grown in Southeast Asia, India, and West-Central Africa. The rind of the fruit is used as a curry component.
Research in a Nutshell on African Mango
There are a few peer-reviewed scientific studies on African mango, and fewer still on Garcinia Cambogia. African mango extracts in some peer-reviewed studies have shown to produce some decreases in weight, LDL cholesterol, total serum cholesterol, waist circumference, and blood sugar. A couple of studies have found that African mango extracts increase HDL cholesterol. The data, however, is limited. A literature review in a peer-reviewed journal analyzing the existing research several plant-derived supplements associated with weight control found that African mango was not as effective as other studied supplements. The review did suggest that there might be some potential, but that further data was needed in order to draw clear conclusions on the use of African mango extract for weight loss.
No studies have been conducted on African mango use over long periods of time. Reported side effects include gas, insomnia, and headaches.
Studies on Garcinia Cambogia
Garcinia Cambogia has not been studied extensively, even less so than African mango. Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is theorized to be the active component found in the Malabar tamarind fruit. It’s thought to inhibit lipogenesis and enhance exercise endurance. A 1998 study did not find that HCA decreased body fat mass compared to a control group receiving a placebo. Another, later study suggested that subjects receiving HCA lost more weight than a control group over a twelve-week period. The data are mixed, and no consistent claims about the efficacy of HCA could be made by researchers conducting the above-mentioned literature review of plant materials theorized to promote weight loss. It should be noted that there have been reports of hepatotoxicity among users of supplements containing Garcinia Cambogia.
A One-Two Punch for Weight Loss or A Big Unknown?
There are no peer-reviewed scientific studies to date examining the effects of consuming African mango and Garcinia Cambogia at the same time. It is unknown if taking both would result in cumulative beneficial effects, harmful effects, or have no effect at all.
More research is needed to determine whether or not these supplements taken in concert result in appreciable weight loss or yield other health benefits. The data simply do not exist to make definitive conclusions about the efficacy of either substance, whether used separately or together.