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Many people are familiar with the sweet, tropical fruit that comes from mango trees, but you may not realize that the leaves of mango trees are edible as well.
Young green mango leaves are very tender, so they’re cooked and eaten in some cultures. Because the leaves are considered very nutritious, they’re also used to make tea and supplements.
Here are 8 emerging benefits and uses of mango leaves, backed by science.
- Rich in plant compounds
Mango leaves contain several beneficial plant compounds, including polyphenols and terpenoids.
Terpenoids are important for optimal vision and immune health. They’re also antioxidants, which protect your cells from harmful molecules called free radicals.
Meanwhile, polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research suggests that they improve gut bacteria and help treat or prevent conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Mangiferin, a polyphenol found in many plants but in especially high amounts in mango and mango leaves, is credited with numerous benefits.
Studies have investigated it as an anti-microbial agent and potential treatment for tumors, diabetes, heart disease, and fat digestion abnormalities.
Still, further human research is needed.
- May have anti-inflammatory properties
Many of the potential benefits of mango leaves result from mangiferin’s anti-inflammatory properties.
While inflammation is part of your body’s normal immune response, chronic inflammation can increase your risk of various diseases.
Animal studies suggest that mango leaves’ anti-inflammatory properties may even protect your brain from conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
In one study, mango leaf extract given to rats at 2.3 mg per pound of body weight (5 mg per kg) helped counteract artificially induced oxidative and inflammatory biomarkers in the brain.
All the same, human studies are needed.
- May protect against fat gain
Mango leaf extract may help manage obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome by interfering with fat metabolism.
Multiple animal studies have found that mango leaf extract inhibits fat accumulation in tissue cells. Another study in mice shows that cells treated with a mango leaf extract had lower levels of fat deposits and higher levels of adiponectin.
Adiponectin is a cell signaling protein that plays a role in fat metabolism and sugar regulation in your body. Higher levels may protect against obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases.
In a study in rats with obesity, those fed mango leaf tea in addition to a high fat diet gained less abdominal fat than those given only the high fat diet.
In a 12-week study in 97 adults with excess weight, those given 150 mg of mangiferin daily had lower fat levels in their blood and scored significantly better on an insulin resistance index than did those given a placebo.
Lower insulin resistance suggests improved diabetes management.
All the same, more human studies are needed.
- May help combat diabetes
Mango leaf may help manage diabetes due to its effects on fat metabolism.
Elevated triglycerides levels are often associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
One study gave mango leaf extract to mice. After 2 weeks, they showed significantly lower triglyceride and blood sugar levels.
A study in rats found that administering 45 mg per pound of body weight (100 mg per kg) of mango leaf extract reduced hyperlipidemia, a condition marked by unusually high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.
In a study that compared mango leaf extract and the oral diabetes drug glibenclamide in rats with diabetes, those given the extract had significantly lower blood sugar levels than the glibenclamide group after 2 weeks.
All the same, human studies are lacking.
- May have anticancer properties
Multiple reviews demonstrate that the mangiferin in mango leaves may have anticancer potential, as it combats oxidative stress and fights inflammation.
Test-tube studies suggest specific effects against leukemia and lung, brain, breast, cervix, and prostate cancers.
What’s more, mango bark exhibits strong anticancer potential due to its lignans, which are another type of polyphenol.
Keep in mind that these results are preliminary and that mango leaves should not be considered a cancer treatment.
- May treat stomach ulcers
Mango leaf and other parts of the plant have historically been used to aid stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions.
A study in rodents found that orally administering mango leaf extract at 113–454 mg per pound (250–1,000 mg per kg) of body weight decreased the number of stomach lesions.
Another rodent study found similar results, with mangiferin significantly improving digestive damage.
Still, human studies are lacking.
- May support healthy skin
Mango leaf extract may reduce signs of skin aging due to its antioxidant content.
In a study in mice, mango extract given orally at 45 mg per pound (100 mg per kg) of body weight increased collagen production and significantly shortened the length of skin wrinkles.
Keep in mind that this extract was a general mango extract, not one specific to mango leaves.
Meanwhile, a test-tube study determined that mango leaf extract may have antibacterial effects against Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can cause staph infections.
Mangiferin has also been studied for psoriasis, a skin condition that causes itchy, dry patches. A test-tube study using human skin confirmed that this polyphenol encouraged wound healing.
Overall, human research is necessary.
- May benefit your hair
Mango leaves are said to promote hair growth, and mango leaf extract may be used in some hair products.
Yet, there’s little scientific evidence to support these claims.
Still, mango leaves are rich in antioxidants, which may protect your hair follicles from damage. In turn, this may aid hair growth.
Studies in humans are needed.
How to use mango leaves
While mango leaves can be eaten fresh, one of the most common ways to consume them is in tea.
To prepare your own mango leaf tea at home, boil 10–15 fresh mango leaves in 2/3 cups (150 mL) of water.
If fresh leaves aren’t available, you can purchase mango leaf tea bags and loose leaf tea.
What’s more, mango leaf is available as a powder, extract, and supplement. The powder can be diluted in water and drunk, used in skin ointments, or sprinkled in bathwater.
Additionally, a mango leaf capsule called Zynamite comprises 60% or more mangiferin. The recommended dosage is 140–200 mg 1–2 times daily.
Still, due to a lack of safety studies, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before taking mango supplements.
Mango leaves can be infused into tea or consumed as a powder. You can eat the fresh leaves if they’re available in your area. It’s best to talk to a health professional before taking supplements.
Does mango leaf have any side effects?
Mango leaf powder and tea are considered safe for human consumption.
Limited studies in animals suggest no side effects, though human safety studies haven’t been conducted.
Still, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider to discuss dosage and any possible interactions with other medications before taking any form of mango leaf.
(Healthline- by By Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD on May 27, 2020 — Medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C)