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African Mango (Irvingia gabonensis) Benefits & Side Effects

Written by Randa Laouar, BS (Biochemistry & Physiology) | Reviewed by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:

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African mango is a tree native to West Africa. It is widely touted for its weight loss and fat burning effects, but extracts of various parts of this tree also have antioxidant properties, lower cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar. Read more to learn about all the potential health benefits of African mango.

What is African Mango?

African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is a tree found in the rainforests of West Africa. Fruits of this tree are protein-rich and resemble mangoes, hence the name [1].

It is also known as wild mango, bush mango, dika, and ogbono.

All parts of the African mango tree are used for a variety of purposes [2]:

  • The fleshy part and pulp of the fruit is consumed as food or used to make jams, juice, and wine.
  • The seeds are eaten raw or used to prepare different foods and supplements.
  • The roots, bark, leaves, and seeds are used to make traditional medicines.


The fruit of African mango provides 86 Kcal. The nutrient content per 100g fruit is [3]:

  • Water 78 g
  • Protein 1.1 g
  • Fat 1.1 g
  • Carbohydrates 17.8 g
  • Fiber 0.4 g
  • Vitamin C 56 mg
  • Calcium 262 mg

Seeds of the fruit are also a good source of nutrients. They contain a variety of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, and iron.

They also contain the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which have antioxidant properties [4].


African mango seeds have high amounts of soluble fiber. Soluble fibers are “bulk-forming,” meaning that they delay the rate by which food exits the stomach, leading to a gradual absorption of sugars. This decreases the elevated blood glucose level after a meal [5].

Fibers in African mango seeds can also bind to bile salts and carry them out of the body in the stool. This increases the conversion of cholesterol into bile salts to replenish the deficiency, thereby decreasing blood cholesterol levels [5].

Additionally, African mango seed extract can suppress fat production by [6, 7]:

Fruit extracts of African mango contain many compounds with antioxidant activities (free-radical scavenging) such as flavonoids, phlobatannins, alkaloids, and anthocyanins [8].

Leaf, bark, and root extracts of African mango contain antifungal and antibacterial compounds (terpenoids and ellagic acid-like compounds). These molecules exert their effects by disrupting bacterial and fungal cell membranes, preventing microbial adhesion, and inactivating microbial enzymes [9].

Health Benefits

1) May Promote Weight Loss and Fat Burning

In a 10-week study (DB-RCT) of 120 overweight volunteers, African mango supplements significantly reduced weight, body fat (6.3% avg.) and waistline circumference (16.2% avg.) [10].

Similar effects were seen in a 4-week study (DB-RCT) of 40 obese subjects. In this study, the African mango treated group showed an average decrease in body weight and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels as well as an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels [11].

Another study (DB-RCT) of 72 patients found that a combination of African mango and Cissus quadrangularis (a plant used for joint and bone health) significantly decreased body weight, body fat (20.1%) and waistline circumference compared to placebo after 10 weeks [12].

However, although some studies on African mango have shown weight loss effects, they are small and poorly designed. Also, African mango cannot act as a sole source of weight loss. Managing your diet and lifestyle is needed to fully capitalize on its weight loss properties [13].

2) May Lower Bad Cholesterol and Raise Good Cholesterol

In a 4-week study (DB-RCT) of 40 obese individuals, African mango supplementation decreased total blood cholesterol (46%) and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol (47%) levels compared to placebo [5].

3) May Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Diets rich in soluble fiber can help stabilize blood sugar levels in people with insulin resistance. Since African mango seeds are high in soluble fiber, they may aid in diabetes management [5].

In a study of 102 overweight volunteers, treatment with African mango seed extract decreased fasting blood glucose levels by 25% after 8 weeks [14].

4) May Reduce Blood Pressure

African mango supplements reduced systolic blood pressure in a study of 28 overweight individuals after 2 weeks (DB-RCT) [5].

5) Has Antioxidant Properties

In a cell-based study, fruit extracts of African mango exhibited impressive antioxidant activity (78% free radical inhibition) [8].

Because of this, African mango can protect against heavy metal toxicity. In rats, cadmium-induced kidney toxicity was significantly reduced with the stem bark extracts of the African mango [15].

In another study, African mango leaf extracts significantly improved liver function in rats with heavy metal-induced liver toxicity [16].

6) Has Antibiotic and Anti-Parasitic Properties

Extracts of leaves, bark, and roots of the African mango significantly inhibited bacterial and fungal growth in a lab study. Leaf and root extracts exhibited the highest antimicrobial activity [17].

Leaf extracts of African mango also have antiparasitic effects. In the laboratory, leaf extracts (500mg/ml) of African mango killed up to 71% of roundworm larvae [18].

7) May Relieve Pain

Stem bark extracts of African mango stem relieved heat and pressure-induced pain in mice. Although the mechanisms are unclear, it is thought to work by activating opioid receptors, which are involved in reducing pain [19].

8) May Improve Gut Health

African mango leaf extracts protected mice and rats from castor oil-induced diarrhea and fluid buildup in the intestines. They also decreased chemically-induced contractions in isolated rabbit and guinea pig intestines [20].

African mango extracts also inhibited ulcer formation in rats by increasing mucus production in the stomach [21].

Safety and Side Effects, Limitations, Drug Interactions, Dosage

African mango supplements are generally safe. In the lab, doses as high as 2,500 mg/kg bw/day did not show any genotoxic (DNA damaging) effects [22].

Reported side effects include [13]:

Limitations and Caveats

Although some studies have shown that African mango can help with weight loss, they are small and poorly designed. Current clinical research has yet to confirm its safety and effectiveness as a weight loss supplement [13].

Some benefits were only studied in animals or cells. They may or may not apply to humans.

Drug Interactions

Since African mango lowers blood sugar levels, it should be used with caution when taken with anti-diabetic medications [14].

It may also affect the rate of absorption of prescription drugs since it delays stomach emptying [5].


The fruit is consumed by locals, and the seeds are ground and used in the preparation of various foods, cosmetics, and drugs.

Seed extracts are available in the form of supplements [23].

Clinical studies have used 150 mg capsules twice a day (taken 30 minutes before meals), 250 mg capsules twice a day, and 1.05 g capsules three times a day (taken 30 minutes before meals) [10, 24, 11].

User Experiences

Users taking African mango supplements have a mixed level of satisfaction. Although many users had a positive level of satisfaction and were happy with the weight loss, a few showed discontent and reported no significant change in body weight.

A satisfied customer reported that “ I have been using the supplement for a month now and I can see a visible decrease in my waist circumference. I have not changed much about my lifestyle during this time.”

Users also report an increase in defecation.


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About the Author

Randa Laouar

BS (Biochemistry & Physiology)

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