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Unique Food: Learn More About Mangosteen!

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The mangosteen tree produces a tropical fruit (also colloquially known simply as mangosteen) that is robust in flavor and rich is tons of powerful nutrients. 

Mangosteen is grown in hot and humid climates, southeastern Asia in particular, including Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Mangosteen is dark purple and about 2 to 3 inches in diameter not unlike the size of a small apple or peach. Despite the word ‘mango’ in its name, mangosteen is not related to mangos.

Most Common Culinary Uses

Mangosteens are commonly eaten as is like any other fruit. Contrary to popular western beliefs, the whole fruit is edible (even though you typically only see the segments dehydrated). The fruit segments can be eaten alone with pair with other fruit like papaya, watermelon, pineapple, grapes, cherries, or any seasonal berry like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or, one of the latest superfruits, strawberries. Fresh mangosteen can be very difficult to come by, however, if you’re dying to try the real thing, we did locate Frieda’s Specialty Produce which offers Fresh Mangosteen with overnight delivery. The overnight delivery cost is steep…. but if you’re eager to try fresh mangosteen, Frieda’s is definitely your best bet.

Health Benefits

Traditionally, mangosteen rind has been used for medicinal purposes ranging from a treatment for diarrhea, bladder infections, and to soothe skin rashes. The rinds are very high in a variety of compounds that demonstrate anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-septic properties.

The fruit has recently been popularized as a juice marketed for its antioxidant content. The purported health benefits are far from conclusive since good quality clinical trials which look at health outcomes such as heart disease, cancer etc, on people have not been done.

The main polyphenols of interest are xanthones, and while test tube and animal studies suggest that they may help the immune system and reduce inflammation, extrapolating those results for human application is premature.

Mangosteens are still nutritious however and are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, some B vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, folate, and are a good source of potassium, manganese, and magnesium.

Fun Facts

  • Mangosteen is an evergreen tree reaching heights between 20 and 60 feet.
  • Mangosteen can also be found Sri Lanka and India.
  • You can eat the whole fruit, even though you often see the dried segments being sold.
  • The internal fruit flesh is a bright snow-white color that is soft with triangular segments.
  • Store the ripe fruit in a cool well-ventilated place where they will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Doug Cook Doug Cook is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator. He practices a holistic and integrative approach providing science-based guidance on food and diet along with nutritional supplements and natural health products where appropriate. He is regularly called upon by the media to help make sense of the latest nutrition and food issues and other hot topics making the news. He writes a popular newspaper column where he deconstructs the manufacturers’ marketing angle, nutritional and health claims of various food products. He also co-authored Nutrition for Canadians for Dummies (Wiley 2008).


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