I was recently given a publication extolling the value of the tropical fruit mangosteen. Does it have health benefits other fruits do not?
—S.J. Smith, MD, Wells, Nev.
Mangosteen is a fruit (not to be confused with mango) that is grown in the Asian tropics and is high in antioxidants, specifically xanthones. Mangosteen is also one of the latest exotic cure-alls, sold on the Internet as a dietary supplement with “literature” that is heavy on testimonials and low on evidence. The sites selling this fruit claim many benefits, including that it prevents cancer, helps with joint inflammation, and boosts the immune system. The literature consists of small in vitro studies that are inflated and extrapolated to humans without adequate scientific proof, marketed aggressively, and sold for significant profit. I would certainly enjoy the fruit if I came across it (apparently it is delicious), but I would not spend $25 for 25 oz of an unregulated drink containing an unknown amount of the juice, with no clear evidence of benefit in humans.
—Susan Kashaf, MD, MPH (108-2)