African mango seeds contain crude protein, fat and carbohydrates.
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If you browse the aisles of your local supplement store, you're likely to notice a variety of supplements containing African mango. Manufacturers create extracts from the seeds of this West African plant and market them for weight loss primarily. African mango is available in several forms, including powder, liquids and capsules. Clinical data indicate African mango seeds possess beneficial effects on digestion that help lower cholesterol and slow sugar absorption.
Influences Fat Absorption
When you eat foods that contain fat, your gallbladder releases bile acids to break down and aid fat digestion. Researchers in Cameroon found that African mango seeds -- which contain soluble fiber -- can bind to bile acids in the gut and remove them from the body. Cholesterol is one of the main components of bile. With less bile acids available, fat absorption decreases and the body must remove cholesterol from the blood to make more bile. The small double-blind randomized study found African mango seeds reduced participants' total cholesterol by 39.2 percent, lowered triglycerides by 44.9 percent and decreased LDL -- a bad form of cholesterol -- by 45.58 percent. The results were published in the May 2005 issue of the journal "Lipids in Health and Disease."
Slows Sugar Absorption
Gastric emptying refers to how fast food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestines. Food that your body rapidly digests leaves the stomach quickly, speeding up absorption. The Cameroonian study found that African mango seeds delay gastric emptying, thus slowing sugar absorption. Instead of being absorbed quickly, sugar is absorbed more gradually. Normally, your glucose levels are highest in the two hours following a meal. The delaying effect of African mango can reduce post-meal glucose levels, according to the Cameroonian researchers.
May Promote Satiety
Gastric motility, that is, how quickly food moves through your digestive system, plays a significant role in feelings of fullness. Because African mango, like other soluble fibers, reduces how quickly food moves into the absorptive phase -- which occurs in the small intestine -- it may help keep you feeling full for longer. The Cameroonian study didn't examine satiety, but increasing fullness is a common result of the delayed gastric emptying effect of soluble fiber. When you feel full for a longer period of time, you tend to eat fewer calories.
Precautions and Considerations
Most African mango studies have used 100 or fewer participants, so larger studies are needed. Extensive human safety research is currently lacking. African mango may have side effects and could potentially interact with medications. It's best to consult your doctor before taking it. A variety of African mangoes are on the market, but a study published in the March 2009 issue of "Lipids Health and Disease" used 150 milligrams of a commercially available patented African mango extract twice daily before meals.