Athletes who want to stock up on carbohydrates before or after a workout, but are worried about increasing their fat reserves, may want to try eating mango. Nutritionists at Oklahoma State University discovered that mango delays the growth of fat layers.
In the world of nutrition it's only fundamentalists who still regard fruit as equivalent to a heap of simple sugars. Anyone who's followed the science news in the past decades will know that fruit not only contains minerals and vitamins but also phyto-compounds which improve the body's ability to deal with carbohydrates. At the turn of this century Nigerian researchers discovered that these substances are also found in mango plants [Phytother Res. 2001 Aug; 15(5): 456-8.] [Phytother Res. 1999 Sep; 13(6): 504-7.], which could be why traditional healers in Nigeria use extracts of the leaves of mango trees against diabetes-2.
The researchers did an experiment in which they fattened up mice for eight weeks with a high-fat diet. Some of the mice were given food that contained 1 or 10 percent freeze-dried mango; other mice were given fenofibrate or rosiglitazone mixed with their feed. Fenofibrate lowers cholesterol and triglycerides; rosiglitazone makes cells more sensitive to insulin via PPAR-alpha cells. Doctors use both of these substances to combat the negative health effects of overweight.
These additions did not alter the balance of fats, carbohydrates and sugars in the animals' feed.
The high-fat diet inhibited the growth of lean body mass and stimulated the growth of fat layers. But when mango was added to the high-fat diet, the mice in this group developed the same body composition as the mice in the control group – which had been given normal food [AIN-93M] – and they didn't grow fat.
The animals that got food consisting of only 1 percent freeze-dried mango reacted particularly well: the mango reduced the glucose concentration. This may be because components in mango boost the production of adiponectin, which raises the glucose uptake of muscle cells.
"A low-dose freeze-dried mango was more effective in a lowering blood glucose concentration than the hypoglycaemic drug, rosiglitazone (50 mg/kg diet), in mice consuming a high fat diet", the researchers conclude. "Moreover, freeze-dried mango, similar to rosiglitazone, favourably alters body composition by reducing the percentage of body fat."
The research was partly financed by the American National Mango Board, which also published the results on its website. [mango.org] Click on Nutrition Professionals and then Nutrition Research.
Br J Nutr. 2011 Nov;106(10):1495-505.