Sunday, September 25, 2011


Weight watching and cholesterol reduction are two of the most discussed health issues world over and the multi billion dollar food supplement industry strives on them. While Statin drugs have created a gigantic industry offering hope for millions of people suffering from hypercholestremic symptoms, there are hundreds of other edible food supplements not going through the medicinal route claiming super performance for improving health. One such supplement, if one may call it so, has hit the headline recently with a claim that it is a "bullet' for weight reduction and no one is really sure whether it is really effective at all. African mango, also commonly known as bush mango is spawning a new line of products which is claimed to reduce weight as well as cholesterol dramatically. Here is a report on its emergence as a miracle fruit for those afflicted by obesity and high blood cholesterol levels.

"A short search for African mango tablets reveals hundreds of sales sites in the U.S. and beyond brashly extolling the virtues of the supplement, which costs around $40 per bottle. But is there any truth behind its miraculous claims? Two studies by Judith L Ngondi and colleagues at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon, published in the Journal of Lipids in Health, support the hype, their data apparently showing the seeds to cause significant weight loss and improve blood flat levels. In a 2005 study, the team studied 28 volunteers, comparing weight loss over four weeks between a group who were given a placebo and a group who were given African mango supplements. Taken before meals, three times a day, the study reported that those who took the African mango supplement lost 5.3% of their body weight, while the control group only lost 1.3%. According to Dr IV van Heerden at 'Considerable reductions in total blood cholesterol (39.2 per cent), triglycerides (44.9 per cent) and "bad" LDL cholesterol (45.6 per cent), were obtained in the treatment group. At the same time, "good" HDL cholesterol levels in the group receiving African mango, increased by 46.9 per cent.' A repeated experiment in 2009 used a more highly developed extract from the African mango seed, IGOB131, and studied its effects on 102 individuals over 10 weeks. Dr can Heerden said: 'The treatment group lost more weight, had improved blood fat and glucose values, lower blood pressure, and other markers of the metabolic syndrome (e.g. lower leptin levels)."

Though there is much hype about this fruit, still there does not appear to be adequate evidence either on its efficacy or safety. Of course as a traditional food supplement consumed by folks in Cameroon there can be some leeway in assessing its safety. But it is necessary that large scale clinical trials are carried out to confirm its credentials as an anti-obesity food supplement. Scientific assessment should also bring out, if it is really effective as claimed, regarding the mechanism of its functioning in the body. "Scavenging" the cholesterol from the body is a property associated with almost all dietary fibers and in what way the fiber from this fruit functions differently needs to be elucidated. Also not clear is the role of many other components in the fruit in bringing out the beneficial functions, if at all there is any.


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