Sunday, 30 March 2014
Mango, the New Diabetes & Cancer Buster
The most popular fresh fruit in the world, mangoes are a whole lot more than just a delicious, refreshing treat produced by nature. As evidenced by copious scientific research, mangoes are also a powerful medicinal food, as they contain nutrients that can help clear up skin, promote eye health, stave off diabetes, and even prevent the formation and spread of cancer.
Research recently presented at a meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), for instance, revealed that eating mangoes every day can help moderate and even lower blood sugar levels, despite their natural sugar content. This is good news for people with type 2 diabetes who may benefit from consuming mangoes regularly as part of a low-sugar diet.
For their study, researchers tested the effects of mangoes on a group of obese animals, some of whom were given 10 grams of freeze-dried mango every day for 12 weeks. At the end of three months, the blood sugar levels of those animals that consumed mango were compared to those that did not consume mango. Based on the data, mango consumption was found to result in a significant decline in blood sugar levels.
"Although the mechanism by which mango exerts its effects warrants further investigation, we do know that mangoes contain a complex mixture of polyphenolic compounds," says Dr. Edralin Lucas, Ph.D., author of the study.
Similar research out of Australia found back in 2006 that eating mango can also help decrease inflammation and resulting high cholesterol, as well as block the formation of various health conditions included under the banner of metabolic syndrome. In essence, mangoes actually work better than cholesterol drugs at naturally balancing and optimizing cellular function throughout the body.
"We don't know yet how the whole thing's going to play out but we know some of the individual components (of mango) activate these receptors and even inhibit them," said a doctor from University of Queensland about the effects of mango consumption on cellular processes. "That could end up with positive nutritional health benefits for diabetes and high cholesterol."
And again in 2011, researchers from Oklahoma State University found that mango consumption helps lower insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance in test mice. The same study also found that mangoes help normalize lipid levels throughout the blood, which in turn can help prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
Eating mangoes can also help you avoid cancer
But the health benefits of mango do not stop here. Science has identified more than 4,000 different antioxidant polyphenols in the plant kingdom, and many of these polyphenols are present in mangoes. The primary benefit of these polyphenols is that they scavenge damaging free radicals and protect cells against damage, which is believed to facilitate and even promote cancer.
"If you look at [mango] from the physiological and nutritional standpoint, taking everything together, it would be a high-ranking superfood," says Dr. Susanne Talcott, who together with her husband discovered back in 2010 that mango compounds target both colon and breast cancer cells.
"What we found is that not all cell lines are sensitive to the same extent to an anticancer agent. But the breast and colon cancer lines underwent apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, that the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells."
In other words, mango compounds effectively target and eliminate harmful cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone, a phenomenon that is unique to nature and nowhere to be found in pharmaceutical-based medicine. Chemotherapy and radiation, for instance, which are the two most popular conventional treatments for cancer, damage healthy cells along with malignant cells, which is why the treatments are a failure as far as long-term survival is concerned.
Mango effective in preventing, stopping certain colon, breast cancer cells
Mango. If you know little about this fruit, understand this: It's been found to prevent or stop certain colon and breast cancer cells in the lab.
That's according to a new study by Texas AgriLife Research food scientists, who examined the five varieties most common in the U.S.: Kent, Francine, Ataulfo, Tommy/Atkins and Haden. Though the mango is an ancient fruit heavily consumed in many parts of the world, little has been known about its health aspects. The National Mango Board commissioned a variety of studies with several U.S. researchers to help determine its nutritional value.
"If you look at what people currently perceive as a superfood, people think of high antioxidant capacity, and mango is not quite there," said Dr. Susanne Talcott, who with her husband, Dr. Steve Talcott, conducted the study on cancer cells. "In comparison with antioxidants in blueberry, acai and pomegranate, it's not even close."
But the team checked mango against cancer cells anyway, and found it prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines, Susanne Talcott noted.
"It has about four to five times less antioxidant capacity than an average wine grape, and it still holds up fairly well in anticancer activity. If you look at it from the physiological and nutritional standpoint, taking everything together, it would be a high-ranking super food," she said. "It would be good to include mangoes as part of the regular diet."
The Talcotts tested mango polyphenol extracts in vitro on colon, breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancers. Polyphenols are natural substances in plants and are associated with a variety of compounds known to promote good health.
Mango showed some impact on lung, leukemia and prostate cancers but was most effective on the most common breast and colon cancers.
"What we found is that not all cell lines are sensitive to the same extent to an anticancer agent," she said. "But the breast and colon cancer lines underwent apotosis, or programmed cell death. Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, that the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells."
The duo did further tests on the colon cancer lines because a mango contains both small molecules that are readily absorbed and larger molecules that would not be absorbed and thus remain present in a colon.
"We found the normal cells weren't killed, so mango is not expected to be damaging in the body," she said. "That is a general observation for any natural agent, that they target cancer cells and leave the healthy cells alone, in reasonable concentrations at least."
The Talcotts evaluated polyphenolics, and more specifically gallotannins, as being the class of bioactive compounds (responsible for preventing or stopping cancer cells). Tannins are polyphenols that are often bitter or drying and found in such common foods as grape seed, wine and tea.
The study found that the cell cycle, which is the division cells go through, was interrupted. This is crucial information, Suzanne Talcott said, because it indicates a possible mechanism for how the cancer cells are prevented or stopped.
"For cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango polyphenolics prevent this kind of damage," she said.
The Talcotts hope to do a small clinical trial with individuals who have increased inflammation in their intestines with a higher risk for cancer.
"From there, if there is any proven efficacy, then we would do a larger trial to see if there is any clinical relevance," she said.
According to the National Mango Board, based in Winter Park, Fla., most mangoes consumed in the U.S. are produced in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti. Mangoes are native to southeast Asia and India and are produced in tropical climates. They were introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800s, and a few commercial acres still exist in California and Florida.
How More Mango Could Help Diabetes, Cancer
If mango is not on your grocery list, it may be time to reconsider. A number of new and previous studies indicate that including mango in your diet or as a supplement can have a significant beneficial impact on your health, including the fight against type 2 diabetes and cancer.
What is the magic of the mango?
At the recent Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) gathering, researchers presented some of the latest information on the health benefits of mangos. In particular, they explained that obese animals that consumed 10 grams of freeze-dried mango every day for 12 weeks experienced a decline in blood sugar levels, a result that could prove helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes.
According to Edralin Lucas, PhD, who led the study, “Although the mechanism by which mango exerts its effects warrants further investigation, we do know that mangos contain a complex mixture of polyphenolic compounds.”
Polyphenols are a type of natural chemical found in plants. More than 4,000 different polyphenols have been identified, and their main benefit in the body is antioxidant activity against disease-causing, cell-damaging molecules called free radicals.
In a 2011 study, researchers explored the effect of freeze-dried mango compared with drugs to lower lipids and fight diabetes (e.g., fenofibrate, rosiglitazone) in mice fed a high-fat diet. They discovered that the use of mango “improved glucose tolerance and lipid profile and reduced adiposity [fat] associated with a HF [high fat] diet.”
Mangos (Mangifera indica) are naturally rich in fiber, the antioxidants vitamins A and C, and vitamin B6. The fruit also contains substances called triterpene and lupeol, which have been shown to inhibit skin and colon cancer in the laboratory. For example, a new study in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine reports that mango extract given to mice protected against photoaging (translation: skin damage such as wrinkles and skin cancer) associated with ultraviolet B rays. A Texas study reported that mango extract was effective in inhibiting colon cancer cell growth.
One of the more interesting studies concerning mango comes from Poland, where researchers reported on mangiferin, an active ingredient in mangos. The authors reported that mangiferin has shown pain-fighting, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, heart-protection, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic benefits, as well as an ability to improve memory and protect the nervous system.
An analysis by experts in India suggested that the antioxidant, antidiabetes, and anti-inflammatory powers of mangiferin are due to its unique structure. Mangiferin also has been shown to effectively inhibit a specific signaling pathway, which the authors explained “partially explains its anti-inflammatory ability and, additionally, points towards its anticancer potential.”