Despite relatively low levels of antioxidants, mangoes have potent anti-cancer properties. That's according to a new study by Texas AgriLife Research food scientists, who examined the five mango varieties most common in the U.S. Though the mango is an ancient fruit heavily consumed in many parts of the world, little has been known about its health aspects until now.
"If you look at what people currently perceive as a superfood, people think of high antioxidant capacity, and mango is not quite there," said Dr. Susanne Talcott, who with her husband and co-researcher, Dr. Steve Talcott, conducted the study on cancer cells. "In comparison with antioxidants in blueberry, acai and pomegranate, it's not even close."
But the team checked mango against cancer cells anyway, and found it prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines. "If you look at it from the physiological and nutritional standpoint, taking everything together, it would be a high-ranking super food," she said. "It would be good to include mangoes as part of the regular diet."
The Talcotts tested mango extracts in vitro on colon, breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancers. Mango showed some impact on lung, leukemia and prostate cancers but was most effective on the most common breast and colon cancers.
"What we found is that not all cell lines are sensitive to the same extent to an anticancer agent," the study reports. "But the breast and colon cancer lines underwent apotosis, or programmed cell death. Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, that the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells."
The team believes that for cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango may prevent such damage. They hope to do a small clinical trial with individuals who have a higher risk for cancer.
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Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Communications