What Is It?
Irvingia gabonensis (IG) is the Latin name of the tree grown in Central and West Africa that produces a fruit similar to a mango and nicknamed African mango, wild mango, dika nut, or bush mango.
In areas where IG grows, its flesh is widely eaten. But it's the seed or nut (fresh or dried) that contains the supposedly powerful ingredients. Sold almost exclusively online, the seed extract comes in powder, liquid, and capsules.
What Are the Claims?
Some web sites claim that the high soluble fiber content of IG seed can melt away belly fat and trim waistlines. It's often combined with other ingredients such as green tea and marketed as a fat-burning supplement.
You may see claims that taking the supplement 30-60 minutes before meals can lower appetite, lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce fat cell growth, boost the breakdown of fats, and improve blood sugar control. There are also claims that it is highly effective at getting rid of fat and cholesterol.
What Does the Research Show?
There are a few research studies on the health effects of IG extracts, and most have been sponsored by supplement makers. That's a red flag, says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
A few studies have shown that supplements containing IG extract can aid in weight loss and lower blood cholesterol levels. Researchers suggest the high fiber content of the seed competes with cholesterol and helps remove it.
In two studies of people on a low-fat, low-calorie diet, people did lose more weight when taking IG than those who took a placebo. Another study combined IG with another herbal preparation, Cissus quadrangularis, and resulted in weight loss. The combination of ingredients makes it hard to isolate the role of IG alone. All three of these studies were funded by the supplement maker. More research is needed.
More studies are needed before nutrition experts recommend the supplements. There is no such thing as a magic pill that will peel off the pounds. The IG extract is rich in fiber, much like the fiber in foods that can help fill you up to promote weight loss, lower blood cholesterol, and maintain blood sugar levels.
Instead of relying on supplements, proper diet and exercise are tried and true methods to losing weight and achieving better overall health, Moore says.
If you do choose to buy supplements, choose pure IG extract supplements that have the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) seal, which ensures product quality.
Talk to your doctor before taking African mango or any other supplements. Your health care professional needs a complete record of everything you're taking, in order to watch out for any interactions and reactions.