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Constipated? Try Mango

by Wellness Letter  

If you’re plagued by chronic constipation, mango may be a sweet way to help get things moving, according to a pilot study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, which included 36 adults with chronic constipation.

Half were assigned to consume mango (about 10 ounces, nearly two cups of cut mango or one whole fruit) every day, while the other half consumed a daily psyllium supplement (containing 5 grams of fiber, equivalent to the fiber content of the mango serving). Psyllium powder, such as in Metamucil, is often used as a bulk laxative for constipation.

All participants provided stool and blood samples before and after the treatments, and they kept records of their food intake, which showed that both groups were similar and consistent in their food intake over the course of the study.

After four weeks, both groups had im­­provements on a scoring system that considers self-reported symptoms and physiologic findings, including frequency of bowel movements, difficulty and pain of evacuation, and sensation of incomplete evacuation. But only the mango group reported improvements in stool consistency (on a scale of 1 being “nut-like” and 7 being “watery”).

The mango eaters also had significant decreases in markers of intestinal inflammation (which is associated with chronic constipation), increases in stool short-chain fatty acids (involved in protecting intestinal cells from damage), and decreases in endotoxins (also involved in intestinal health and inflammation).

The study, which was funded by the National Mango Board, concluded that “mango supplementation was more effective in mitigating the symptoms of functional constipation in human subjects than fiber alone.” In addition to fiber, mangos contain polyphenols, which may be responsible for the added benefit, the researchers noted.

If you try this as a remedy, be aware that the daily mango dose used in the study has about 200 calories, so be sure to adjust calories elsewhere in your diet. Smaller amounts of mango were not tested but may also help.

This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.