Costa Rica Mangosteen Fruit, Xanthones and Health Benefits to Prevent Cancer
Costa Rica Mangosteen Fruit tastes amazing and contains a powerful compound known as a Xanthone, which boosts the immune system, provides antioxidant protection, prevents cancer, and contains other powerful nutrients.Sometimes referred to as the queen of fruits, Mangosteen is named this way in parts of Asia due to its exquisite flavor and economic importance. Until recently this fruit was not allowed into the United States, but was reportedly admitted from Thailand after 2007. Our first and subsequent encounters with the Mangosteen fruit have been greatly anticipated and awaited for. Here in Costa Rica, it grows in certain sections of the country but is only in season for 1-2 months of the year. We literally go on overload during the season, buying many for personal consumption and to share with friends and family who have never tasted this exotic delicacy before. Upon tasting my first one combined with the anticipation of having to wait most of year, I was not disappointed. While it has gotten the reputation of being a fruit or supplement capable of wonders and unbelievable health benefits (and I do think it contains amazing phytonutrients), a realistic and honest approach of this delicacy will be subject of the information below. Much of its fame has been gained from a substance that is called a xanthone, which has been the subject of cancer research.
The mangosteen tree is a delicate one to say the least. After germination, one can wait up to 8 years and beyond until the first fruiting, depending upon the environment and conditions in which it is grown. When fully grown, the height can reach between 8-20 meters, resembles a pyramid shape and is very densely populated with shiny dark green leaves. Each fruit when fully grown generally has a weight between 80 to 150 grams. The portion of the fruit that is edible can be made into a juice and is relatively small. When mature, it assumes a rich purple color. The outer portion, the pericarp is a fibrous like material surrounding what are known as arils or the edible portion. Each fruit contains anywhere between 4 to 8 arils that are a pristine white color. One or two of them contains a seed. Only a few places exist in Costa Rica where it is grown.
Without a doubt, the one thing that has put this fruit on the map other than its incredible taste, are the Xanthones that are found in abundance in the pericarp or rind of the fruit. So what is a Xanthone? It is an organic plant compound phenol that is found in a few select foods. The highest concentration is found in the mangosteen fruit. Over 200 Xanthones are found in nature and the mangosteen fruit contains over 40 of them. While the scientific evidence for mangosteens health benefits and for the xanthone is not very abundant, all fruits offer unique qualities and phytonutrients that we are just starting to discover and study the effects they have on the body. Claims exist on the internet that Xanthones act like an antioxidant and that it is extremely powerful. Antioxidants are good for taking care of the destructive effects of free radicals in the body and for fighting diseases like cancer. A value scale exists that is called ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), which in essence rates the antioxidant qualities of certain foods. Supposedly Mangosteen has been rated to have the highest antioxidant value of any other food in the world surpassing that of prunes and blueberries.
What are some other health benefits to this unique compound?
- Found to give a boost to the immune system
- Can help with conditions such as allergies, migraines, fatigue, cholesterol, back pain, infections, cancer and arthritis.
- The fruit has natural anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-convulsant properties
- In folk medicine, the rind or pericarp has been used to treat dysentery, bladder infections, and skin problems. In this case it is made into a powder or supplement and is mixed with a liquid for drinking or to be applied to the affected area.
- The leaves and the bark of the tree have been used in folk medicine to treat thrush and diarrhea.
- The fruit also contains good amounts of the following vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
The mangosteen has risen to the forefront of the fruit world and while the evidence as to the health benefits of this fruit are still being studied and have yet to become more conclusive, this fruit is one that I believe will continue to gain popularity. I love fruit and while living in Costa Rica, I have been fortunate to taste many great fruits. This would be on the very top of my list. Everyone should try it raw at one time in their life. Put it on your list of life goals or just come to Costa Rica during December or January. We hope to have a small production of Noni with Mangosteen in the near future, so stay tuned.