Remember noni juice? Well, it’s so yesterday. The hot new juice is mangosteen. It’s supposed to cure what ails you, and I saw it at my grocery store for 25 bucks a bottle. Holy smokes.
Mangosteen, a fruit mostly grown in Thailand, is apparently rich in antioxidants, particularly xanthones, and according to the leading marketer, XanGo, these may help maintain intestinal health, support the immune system, neutralize free radi-cals, support cartilage and joint function and promote a healthy respiratory system.
Or they may not, according to the scientific community.
Millions of dollars’ worth of mangosteen juice has been sold – a billion, even. But a couple of years ago the FDA slapped XanGo with a letter telling the company to stop making all these claims if they couldn’t be substantiated. XanGo said it wasn’t the first to make these claims. Should we believe the hype?
What the experts say
“The only science we have on mangosteen, and for that matter the other exotics, including açaí, noni and gogi, is that their antioxidant content tends to be quite high. Everything beyond that is marketing hype. We have no evidence supporting the notion that there are specific benefits to consuming mangosteen juice. I do think antioxidants are good for us, but you’re going to pay a premium for that over orange juice or the more mundane sources of antioxidants. The other thing is, people should be drinking water, and for antioxidants they should be eating fruits and vegetables. We have a problem with epidemic obesity. If you drink any kind of juice, exotic or otherwise, you’re getting sugar and calories.”
DAVID KATZ, director, Prevention Research Centre, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
“I grow mangosteen. It’s like a grapefruit. But a bunch of people came along and said, ‘The most amazing things can happen if you drink a beverage that’s made in a proprietary way from the rind.’ All the claims are anecdotal, or they’re [from studies] that involve incredibly isolated components from the rind, which aren’t proven to be in the beverage.
There isn’t one single large controlled study. It would be wonderful for me if the claims were true. I feel a lot of people are just being terribly exploited.”
IAN CROWN, owner, Panoramic Fruit Company, Stamford, Connecticut
“Mangosteen is nature’s most concentrated source of xanthones, a phytonutrient and antioxidant. In fact, 39 xanthones are found in the whole mangosteen fruit, and science knows of 200 in nature. Other phytonutrients in the fruit are catechins, found in green tea, and proanthrocyanadins, found in grape seed.
To date, the research has been primarily in-vitro and has yet to reach the stage of human clinical studies; that’s the next stage. As the category creators, the first company to bring the product to market, we take our leadership very seriously.’’
JEFF CHANDLER, public relations manager, XanGo, Lehi, Utah
“[Mangosteen] was analyzed by a lab that found that it has a good antioxidant component, but not significantly more than other fruit juices. Xanthones are certainly not the only antioxidant component of plant products. They are prevalent in the mangosteen fruit, but no one has shown that they do anything more than other antioxidants. The research on xanthones is in its early stages, and we don’t know whether they are superior to, say, luteins or beta-carotene. To my knowledge, no clinical study has tested the xanthone itself as an isolated ingredient. It’s a dietary supplement, so it’s not intended to treat disease.”
WAYNE ASKEW, director, division of nutrition, University of Utah, Salt Lake City