African Mango is the latest greatest thing out for weight loss so I decided to take a look at it – and surprisingly it looks good. Even the Natural Standards Data Base seems to like it stating that preliminary studies support its use for weight loss and lipid profiles. If you read my blog then you know that I don’t particularly like supplements because they cost a great deal of money with uncertain results – but I do like to know the facts and if there is a therapeutic benefit then I am all over it. Read my posts on PGX and Green Tea – PGX is something you can only take as a supplement.
I’m very excited about African Mango because it not only stands up to double blind randomized studies as being effective for weight loss but helps to improve lipid profiles and blood sugar profiles as well. To tell you the truth, I’m going to give this a try myself.
African Mango and cholesterol levels
I could stand to lose a bit and even though I am on my feet all day and up and down several flights of stairs – at my age the weight doesn’t like to budge (and of course my cholesterol levels never make my doctor happy and I am very stubborn about pharmaceuticals and won’t take them). African Mango or Irvingia Gabonensis isn’t actually related to the mangos that we are familiar with. It grows in Cameroom Africa and Nigeria. The fruit and the seeds are used for food. The seeds are slightly aromatic are ground up for flavorings and thickening soups, and also used to make a paste which is dried and called dika bread or Gabon chocolate and contributes a good amount of nutritional properties to the diet.
It’s the seeds we are really interested in for its therapeutic effects. The seed has several names: Ogbono, odika, dika or etima. It is very high in soluble fiber. I’ve posted several times already on the benefits of fiber for reducing cholesterol. Fiber also helps with weight control, and keeps your GI tract healthy. African mango also contains compounds called sterols and vitamin A and beta cartone which also help keep cholesterol in check.
African Mango helps blood sugar control
But that’s not the only therapeutic benefit that African Mango seeds have. The Natural Standards data base reports that it might help blood sugar control in people with diabetes in couple ways. Because African Mango has a high soluble fiber content this delays the rate that sugar is digested into the blood stream. It also contains proteins which prevent sugars being broken down to smaller molecules for digestion and that helps control blood sugars too. For the science geeks out there these are glycoproteins which inhibit hydrolase enzymes.
African Mango and Weight Loss
But for those of us who are interested in this product for weight loss, here’s the scoop. African Mango seeds prevent the creation of new fat cells. Fat cells are called adipocytes and when they get big and fat (hoarding all those extra calories we shouldn’t have eaten), they multiply their number and increase the amount of the hormone leptin that they secrete. OK, its clear that we don’t want fat cells to multiply but what has leptin got to do with it. First of all hunger is in your head. Your hippothalamus actually. When you need to eat – leptin levels are high making you feel hungry. When you have eaten enough then leptin levels decrease so that you do not feel hungry. The fact that African Mango can switch off the production of leptin doesn’t seem to bode well for weight loss by itself, but leptin is only one hormone involved in appetite control. And people who are overweight or obese have high levels of leptin circulating and can become leptin resistant – meaning that it stops doing what its supposed to do and you don’t stop eating. African Mango also causes an increase in hormone called adiponectin. Adiponectin helps to regulate the body’s response to insulin and to reduce inflammation. People with high levels of adiponectin are at less risk of heart disease than people with low levels, and obese people have lower levels of adiponectin. So it seems to me that African Mango might do you a lot more good than just weight loss.
There are several studies that support the weight loss effects of African Mango. The type that was used in studies was a standardized extract called IGOB131 and sometimes called OB131. I had a bit of a look around on forums to see what people were saying and the comments were mixed. Some were complaining that it doesn’t work and some were saying that it was working for them really really well. Its important to remember that we are all individuals and as the new field of genomics is showing us, we metabolize differently, even among the same race – let alone different races of people so perhaps that could be the answer as to why it’s working for some and not others. Anecdotal comments are valuable but you have to remember that the observations occurred in an uncontrolled environment. We don’t know what the people who were not happy the results from African Mango were actually doing (eating more maybe?). Who knows – weight and weight issues can be seriously complicated by motivations to eat that we aren’t clearly aware of. Serious weight issues are not the result of over-eating alone – there is a whole lot of psychological and emotional issues dedicated to keeping the overweight person in that same condition.
I did see a comment that it caused diarrhea and the person felt so much better when coming off the supplement. The Natural Standards Data Base reports that the most common side effects are flatulence, headaches and sleeplessness. Now that’s something that I don’t need – so I assure you if that happens to me I’m off it straight away!
There’s one other thing I’d like to mention about African Mango. In addition to getting it as a stand alone supplement there are a couple of other combinations that exist. One is a combination of African Mango with Cissus quadrangularis which is a member of the grape family. The Natural Standards Data Base does report that preliminary evidence suggests Cissus quadrangularis might be good for weight loss too, and a study that trialed a placebo, Cissus quadrangularis alone and Cissus quadrangularis together with African Mango IGOB131 found weight loss occurred in all groups except placebo, but much better in the group with the African Mango combo. There are no known interactions with drugs or other herbs for African Mango.
I am encouraged by the fact that there are several double blind placebo controlled studies supporting it and that Natural Standards Data Base agrees that preliminary evidence supports its use in weight loss. Its a bit discouraging that on forums some people have not found it to be useful, but I think this is an individual circumstance and its worth finding out if it works for you.