Health-conscious people are always looking for new and inventive ways to increase their overall health. Due to the severe side effects that are linked with many prescription medications, we have taken it upon ourselves to find alternative ways to deal with potential health issues.
One of the most effective natural ways to increase our overall health is by consuming more fruits and vegetables. There is a wealth of information online about how to consume more fruits and vegetables that benefit our well-being. However, our goal here is to introduce you to the exotic mangosteen fruit from the tropical islands of Southeast Asia.
So, What is Mangosteen?
Mangosteen fruit (Garcinia mangostana) is a unique pear-shaped, sweet, juicy and tangy tropical fruit that has a deep reddish-purple colored exocarp (rind) when ripe. It grows on an evergreen tree native to the islands of Southeast Asia.
Natives in these parts of the world also refer to mangosteen as “queen of fruits” or “fruit of the gods.” This fruit has been a significant part in almost every aspect of traditional medicine in these cultures. The rind of this fruit is used for its medicinal value for generations.
Mangosteen tree can grow from 6 to 25 m tall, it has a dark brown flaking bark and some thick, leathery, elliptic, dark green leaves and does not like the cold weather too much.
Short-term cold weather usually is not too dangerous for older trees, but prolonged exposure to very low temperatures of below 0 °C can kill even a mature mangosteen tree. While it is cultivated in some different areas, it grows almost exclusively in tropical climates.
The fruit is purple but also can appear pale yellow. Some color variations exist within this range as well.
What Vitamins and Minerals are in the Mangosteen?
The exocarp (rind) of this fruit comprises of a unique array of vitamins polyphenols, like tannin and xanthones that protect the tree against insect, plant virus and fungi infestation and even animal predation.
Xanthones are naturally occurring phytonutrients derived organically from plants that grow in certain regions, such as the mangosteen tree.
Xanthones are thought to support many of the vital functions of the body, including immune health.
Higher quality of mangosteen juice has the rind as part of the pulp just because of the xanthones content it contains.
In fact, according to many folktales, the rind was used to prepare a unique tea that can cure different conditions like gonorrhea, diarrhea and bladder infections.
An ointment made of this rind as its main ingredient was used to cure various skin rashes and even acne.
What Are The Most Notable Mangosteen Health Benefits?
The benefits of this fruit have been known to people in Eastern cultures for years. However, most people in the West are only now beginning to become aware of the many significant benefits of consuming the mangosteen fruit can have for individuals who suffer from a variety of health concerns.
Even Dr. Oz included mangosteen fruit on his list of superfoods. Here are some of the most notable mangosteen benefits:
- Antioxidant properties – The central component of the mangosteen fruit, xanthones, are responsible for the effectiveness of the fruit in aiding the health of individuals. There are over 200 known xanthones in nature. Amazingly 20 of them are found in mangosteen, concentrated mainly in the rind. These compounds help in reducing radicals and giving a boost to the body’s immune system.
- Helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate – Mangosteen fruit also contains high levels of magnesium. Magnesium helps control the electrical function of the heart, keeping the heart rate and blood pressure under control and promoting a regular heartbeat. Vitally crucial for people with minor symptoms concerning their circulatory systems.
- Prevents inflammation – This has wide-reaching health benefits for people who suffer from a variety of diseases related to inflammation. Because many respiratory issues are caused by inflammation within the passageways of the lungs, reducing that swelling can open up the airways and allow normal breathing. Therefore, mangosteen fruit may help anyone who suffers from various breathing problems.
- Improve digestion – The fiber that naturally exists in the mangosteen fruit may help anyone who suffers from digestive problems to better regulate their digestive systems. The result is increased health throughout the body as many digestive issues negatively affect other areas of the body and may even serve as a springboard for other health problems to arise.
- Treats acne, minor cuts and various skin conditions – People in Southeast Asia had figured it out very early that the pulp of mangosteen will stop the bleeding and act like antiseptic if applied topically to minor cuts. Luckily today there are mangosteen products available which are believed to help with some skin disorders like acne.
- Antihistamine properties – In addition to these potential health benefits of mangosteen, this fruit may also help anyone who suffers from allergies. This is also primarily due to the ability of the fruit to reduce inflammation. Mangosteen also acts as a natural antihistamine. Some individuals, who suffer from certain diseases of the eyes, are also unable to take allergy medications. Therefore, they are left to try to find solutions that work for them without making their existing health conditions worse.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Mangosteen is a low-calorie fruit high in vitamins that aid in metabolism. This means the potential for a leaner and healthier body, as well as having increased energy. The fruit also has a high fiber content. Its fiber content combined with the B-complex vitamins that are included in the fruit aid in maintaining a healthy weight by safely increasing metabolism and assisting in more efficient function within the digestive system.
Even for those who do not suffer from any health conditions, eating the mangosteen or drinking mangosteen juice is an excellent way to provide the body with low-calorie nutrition high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
How to Eat Mangosteen & What’s It Taste Like?
When its fully ripe and freshly picked the fruit splits open very easily by gentle squeeze exposing the soft white edible insides. However, if it has been several days after harvest, you are going to have to use a knife to cut the hardened rind.
The number of petals on the bottom of the mangosteen will indicate how many cloves it contains inside. Be careful though, some of the larger cloves include a very bitter and hard pit in the middle. It will be easier to eat it by scooping the delicious white segments with a teaspoon or small fork.
The taste can be compared to lychee fruit, but sweeter and it melts like ice cream in the mouth. Some say it reminds them of a cross between peaches, clementines, and mangoes. It is hard to find the right words to define the ambrosial flavor of this fruit.
Where To Buy Mangosteen Fruit& How to Preserve Its Freshness?
Yet to hit the mainstream markets, it is hard to lay hands upon this exotic fruit. Mangosteen is one of the top rarest fruits in the world.
Being a native plant to Southeast Asia, it is evident that this fruit finds a principal place on the menu in these countries.
If you live in the US or Europe, it will be highly unlikely to find fresh mangosteens in your local superstore. It is available at the specialty grocery store like Frieda’s, Agata and Valentina in NYC or New May Wah Supermarket in San Francisco. You also might get lucky in some Asian markets or Chinatown’s streets if you live close to a big metro area.
The mangosteen fruit is flavorful and juicy but also very delicate. In other words, it does not have a long shelf life. When you are shopping around, try to avoid mangosteens with discoloration on the rind.
Not long after its harvest, the rind is losing its moisture, gets dark and is hard to cut through. If white spots start appearing on the dark purple surface, it means the peel is now sucking moisture from the fruit inside. At this point, the fruit is past its prime. Refrigeration slows this process down a bit.
The best and easiest way to get your hands on this “unicorn of fruits” is by ordering it online.
Note: If you choose to buy the fresh fruit, it comes adequately cushioned and safely surrounded by ice packs to retain its freshness. When brought home, mangosteens are best refrigerated. Mangosteen juice is also an excellent alternative to fresh fruit.