The mangosteen fruit (or Garcinia Mangostana) is native to South East Asia. The mangosteen’s place of origin is unknown. However, it is believed that the Sunda Islands, also known as the Spice Islands, in the western part of the Malay Archipelago to be its most likely place of origin. From these islands the mangosteen spread to Thailand and Burma where it is first thought to have been cultivated.
The mangosteen tree has a slow growth rate and adult pyramidal evergreen trees range anywhere from 20 to 82 feet (6 to 25 meters) in height. It is common for the mangosteen tree to take 10 to 15 years to product its first fruit. The mangosteen, nicknamed the “Queen of Fruits” is a small spherical fruit about the size of a tangerine, but with a skin that is very dark purple, and quite thick, reaching 10 millimeters in thickness. Inside is a soft white sectioned middle. The edible sections may or may not contain a small seed. The taste is quite sweet, but with a hint of sourness.
Today mangosteen, the Queen of Fruits, thrives and is mainly cultivated in Thailand, Kampuchea, Vietnam, Burma, Malay and Singapore. Mangosteen is almost a rarity outside its native habitat; however mangosteen has spread to Central and South America, the Caribbean.
Mangosteen has seen an up tick in popularity in the last few years in the United States as well as other western nations. Mainly due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. “The latest in scientific research shows Mangosteen contains a class of naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds known as xanthones. Xanthones may provide beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases, including ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and thrombosis”. [1. health-report.co.uk] The Queen of Fruits is now the Queen of Cures; curing everything from heart disease, arthritis and even cancer. However, don’t expect to see the fruit next to the bananas at your local main street grocer anytime soon. Instead, like the the way of the acai, gochi goji berry, noni and pomegranate which can be found mainly at all main stream grocers as a juice so too is mangosteens debut on westerners.
Premium juices distributes have strung up with extensive marketing campaigns to sell mangosteen juice at a premium prices. As with most well oiled marketing campaigns, possibly taking a cue from the snake oil salesmen of the late 19th and early 20th century, marketing their product as the new fountain of youth. A thimble a day keeps the doctor away. As if a thimble size glass of their product will be enough to cure all your woes. Sadly, even though mangosteen shows promise in recent scientific research what most don’t understand, is that “the level of active ingredients in many liquid Mangosteen juices simply is not great enough, (unless one was to drink a pint per day) to supply sufficient xanthones and antioxidants to make any noticeable difference to the health of someone suffering metabolic disease such as cancer”. [2. health-report.co.uk] Don’t buy into the hype, try mangosteen for yourself and fall in love with the fruit not the hype. If there are benefits, think of them as a plus to enjoying one of natures treats.
Still interested in trying mangosteen? Visit your local Asian Market and try it the way nature prepared it; as a fruit and discover for yourself why this majestic tropical fruit was given the nickname the “Queen of Fruits“.