The Superfood Dilemma: Mangosteen
Pomegranate, Noni fruit, Acai Berry, and now the Mangosteen. Some days it feels like the latest superfruit trends change faster than iPhone upgrades! What is it about tropical fruit that makes us believe we can’t be truly healthy without it?
I write on a regular basis about the value of the incredible local fruit and vegetables we have around us and their exceptional health benefits. I decided it was time to put one of the latest exotic food fads up against a typical local food so we can make an educated comparison for ourselves on the nutritional values.
On one hand we have the unusual Mangosteen fruit – not to be confused with a mango. Originating from the Indonesian region of the planet, the purple mangosteen has a sweet but tangy flavour similar to some types of citrus fruit. Nutritionally, the mangosteen can provide us with many vitamins and minerals including folate, B-vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Also, like most fruit, there is plenty of fibre found in the mangosteen.
It’s pretty easy to see why such a fruit is being hailed as the next big thing. On top of being full of the nutrients listed above, there are also reports indicating mangosteen contains valuable phytonutrients, such as xanthonoids which may be beneficial for some forms of cancer and cancer prevention.
On the other hand, we have your typical organic broccoli. Broccoli, too, contains significant levels of vitamin C, B-vitamins, folate, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and fibre. Further to this, broccoli can give our bodies some vitamin K, Vitamin E, omega 3â€²s and even a bit of tryptophan!
At first glance, the comparison may not be all that convincing. Consider the carbon footprint involved in transporting a mangosteen to your kitchen versus that which would be required to get a head of broccoli from a local farmer. Consider the harvesting practices which must be used in order to pick a mangosteen that will remain hard enough to withstand the long journey around the globe to your mouth. Consider the economic impact of supporting your local growers versus overseas labour which may or may not be humane.
Still not sure? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional values of each of these foods. Below is a chart I created to highlight how the mangosteen ‘superfruit’ ranks against a local head of organic broccoli:
|Protein||0.50 g||4.66 g|
|Dietary Fiber||5.10 g||4.68 g|
|Folate||31.00 mcg||93.91 mcg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.286 mg||0.940 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid||0.032 mg||0.790 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.041 mg||0.220 mg|
|Vitamin B2(Riboflavin)||0.054 mg||0.180 mg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thaimin)||0.054 mg||0.090 mg|
|Vitamin A||35 IU||2280.72 IU|
|Vitamin C||7.20 mg||123.40 mg|
|Potassium||48.00 mg||505.44 mg|
|Calcium||5.49 mg||74.72 mg|
|Iron||0.17 mg||1.37 mg|
|Magnesium||13.90 mg||39.00 mg|
|Manganese||0.10 mg||0.34 mg|
|Phosphorus||9.21 mg||102.80 mg|
|Zinc||0.12 mg||0.62 mg|
|Vitamin E||—||0.75 mg|
|Vitamin K||—||155.20 mg|
|Omega 3||—||0.20 g|
(Data compiled from USDA National Nutrient Database)
The data list above is based on the whole food. Quite often, superfruit, such as mangosteen, is marketed as a juice rather than the fruit itself. The nutrient value of the juice is likely to be far less than that of the fruit in its entirety. The juice would have little to no fibre remaining. It would likely have undergone some form of pasteurization which would damage and/or kill many of the nutrients. And the juices frequently are combined with other juices or liquids diluting the nutrients further.
I would never discourage anyone from eating healthy fruit and vegetables such as the mangosteen. My intention is to shed some light on the true power and importance of your local organic foods which can provide you with a far greater impact on your nutritional well-being. So the next time you hear influential people like Dr. Oz tell you that you must eat specific superfoods in order to be healthy, I suggest doing some additional research before forming an opinion. As amazing as the next superfruit may sound, chances are we can grow something of equal or greater value right here at home.