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Superfruit: Two cups of mango a day for a healthy heart, study finds

Mango consumption among healthy postmenopausal women has a positive vascular effect, a University of California study has found. The study also detected favorable changes in the production of breath methane, indicating the mango’s positive influence on gut fermentation. The research adds to previous research that reported that eating mangos is more effective in improving gut health than eating a comparable amount of dietary psyllium fiber supplement.

“This is the first study to demonstrate positive vascular effects of mango intake in humans,” says lead researcher Robert Hackman, with the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. He presented the findings earlier this week at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, in Boston, US. “Our results build on previous animal and cell studies that point to the potential benefits of mangos to promote health.”

He further tells that the study focused on postmenopausal women because: “They are at an increased risk of vascular dysfunction due to the loss of estrogen. Heart disease is the number one killer of postmenopausal women in developed countries.”

He adds that the researchers were surprised by the findings as they “did not expect to note a reduction in blood pressure and a decline in the mean arterial pressure.”

The study
Participants included 24 healthy postmenopausal women consumed 330g (2 cups) of mango daily for 14 days. The honey mango (also referred to as Ataulfo) was chosen for the study due to the high concentration of polyphenols in this popular variety.

Mangos contain a mix of polyphenols, including mangiferin, quercetin, gallotannins, and gallic acid, that have been the focus of previous investigations exploring the potential health-protecting properties of mangos. The researchers believe the concentration of these bioactive compounds in mangos may be responsible for the favorable response.

Following the 14 days of mango consumption, the study participants resumed their normal daily diet but eliminated mango intake for 13 days. Measurements were taken during each visit, including heart rate and blood pressure, blood samples and breath samples; which are increasingly used in nutrition studies to evaluate gut health status.

At the start of the study, blood pressure was not significantly different between the study visits. Once mango was consumed, systolic blood pressure was considerably lower two hours after mango intake compared to baseline values. Pulse pressure was also significantly reduced two hours after eating mango.

Systolic blood pressure (the upper number in blood pressure readings) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats. Pulse pressure is the difference between systolic and diastolic (bottom number) in blood pressure readings. Pulse pressure can be used as an indicator of heart health.

Breath levels of hydrogen and methane were measured, which reflect the amount of these gases that were produced due to microbial fermentation in the intestinal tract. Some study participants produced hydrogen, some produced methane, others produced both gases and some produced neither. Six of the 24 participants produced methane, and of these six, three showed a significant reduction after consuming mango, which is considered a favorable outcome for gut health.

Hackman suggests that further research needs to be replicated with a more substantial number of participants and “more research in humans (not animal studies) is needed before health claims can be made and approved by regulatory agencies such as EFSA, for mango or mango extracts to be used in heart health products.

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