Australian researchers suggest that compounds isolated from mangoes may be helpful in protecting the body against metabolic disorders like diabetes and high cholesterol.
While presenting the preliminary results of their study at the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress in Melbourne last week, they said that some mango components act on the same pathways that diabetes and cholesterol drugs target.
Ashley Wilkinson, a PhD Student at University of Queensland, says that they are conducting studies to analyse how individual components of the luscious summer favourite affect human cells.
She says that their aim is to find unique ingredients in mangoes and other tropical fruit like papayas.
"There's been a lot of research looking at nutritional bioactives but it's focused on more temperate fruit like broccoli and grapes. And there hasn't been any research looking at tropical fruit in the context of looking at modulating cellular processes," ABC Online quoted her as saying.
Dr Sarah Roberts-Thomson of the university's school of pharmacy, who is supervising the study, says that some compounds in mangoes work by activating or inhibiting groups of receptors known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors.
"We don't know yet how the whole thing's going to play out but we know some of the individual components activate these receptors or even inhibit them. That could end up with positive nutritional health benefits for diabetes and high cholesterol," she says.
The researchers say that they will also investigate whether compounds in mangoes can also help teat cancerous cells, as PPARs are also being linked to colon and breast cancer.
One of the compounds that are being focused on by the researchers is quercetin, a chemical that is also found in onions, while another is norathyriol, a by-product of mangiferin that is found in a range of fruits and traditional antidiabetic herbs.
Wilkinson says that gut bacteria convert mangiferin into norathyriol, whereafter it appears to have an even more potent affect on PPARs.
Preliminary findings of the study also suggest that mango skin is particularly rich in these compounds.