Studies demonstrate health benefits of mangos, herbs, spices


Rosas M, et al. Effects of fresh mango consumption on blood glucose, insulin, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors in overweight and obese adults. Presented at: American Society of Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting; June 7-10, 2021 (virtual meeting).


Alasvand reports no relevant financial disclosures. Jampolis is author of Spice Up, Live Long. Petersen reports receiving grant/research support from McCormick Science Institute. Rosas reports that his study was funded by the National Mango Board. Please see the studies for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Recent data suggest that mangos could help improve certain risk factors for chronic disease in patients who are overweight or obese, according to researchers.

In addition, two other trials exploring how diet affects health revealed an association between herbs and spices and improvements in BP and cholesterol.

Martin Rosas

All three studies were presented during the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, held virtually.

Mangos may lower chronic disease risk

In the first study, Martin Rosas Jr., MS, a research assistant at San Diego State University and a campus food and nutrition intern at the Humane Society, and colleagues examined the potential health benefits of mangos in adults with overweight or obesity.

“Mangos contain many beneficial nutrients and have been shown to have health-promoting properties,” Rosas told Healio Primary Care. “We conducted this study to determine if the addition of fresh mangos as a snack food would modify CVD risk factors compared to another commonly consumed type of snack.”

Rosas and colleagues assigned 27 participants to receive either 100 calories of fresh mangos daily or 100 calories of low-fat cookies daily for 12 weeks. After a 4-week washout period, the participants were then assigned to the other dietary intervention.

Neither intervention significantly changed body weight, body fat percentage, BMI or BP, according to the researchers.

Overall, daily mango consumption did not affect anthropometric measurements or lipid profiles, Rosas said during a presentation. There was a significant increase in aspartate transaminase following mango consumption, but there were no changes in the other liver function enzymes, “suggesting minimal effects on liver health from this study,” Rosas said.

There was also an association between mango consumption and improvements in total antioxidant capacity and C-reactive protein. In addition, Rosas reported “a beneficial effect” of mango consumption on fasting blood glucose, which he said may be due to the mangiferin and fiber in mangos.

Meanwhile, the researchers observed a significant increase in insulin and triglycerides after 12 weeks of low-fat cookie consumption.

“Encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption, especially when replacing refined carbohydrates, can reduce the risk of CVD,” Rosas said in the interview. “Mangos should be considered as a healthy snack choice, containing many nutrients, antioxidants and fiber that may reduce certain CVD risk factors, including reductions in fasting blood glucose.”

Herbs, spices may lower BP

In a separate study, Kristina S. Petersen, PhD, APD, FAHA, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, and colleagues assessed the cardiometabolic effects of adding mixed herbs and spices to a typical American diet.

The study included 71 adults who were at higher risk for cardiometabolic disease. They were assigned to receive each of the following diets for 4 weeks, with a minimum 2-week washout period in between interventions: a low-spice diet (0.5 g for every 2,100 kcal per day), moderate-spice diet (3.3 g for every 2,100 kcal per day) or high-spice diet (6.6 g for every 2,100 kcal per day). The herbs and spices included in the analysis were cinnamon, coriander, ginger, cumin, parsley, black pepper, garlic, turmeric, onion powder, rosemary, paprika, chili powder, cilantro, oregano, basil, red pepper, thyme, bay leaf, cardamom, sesame seeds, sage, poppy seeds, dillweed and allspice.

There were no significant changes in blood glucose or LDL cholesterol after the interventions, Petersen said during a presentation. However, after the moderate-spice diet, total cholesterol was 6.8 mg per dL lower than baseline.

“It is unclear why the effect occurred with the moderate-spice diet, with no effect present for the high-spice diet,” Petersen said. “The lack of a dose-response effect suggests that the spices given did not reduce lipid absorption via inhibition of digestive enzymes, which was the hypothesized mechanism by which spices would reduce total and LDL cholesterol.”

Compared with the low- and moderate-spice diet, the high-spice diet was associated with a significant reduction in mean 24-hour systolic BP, which declined by about 3 mm Hg from baseline.

The researchers observed similar effects with diastolic BP. The high-spice diet was associated with a 1.8 mm Hg reduction in diastolic BP compared with baseline, “and this was statistically different from both the low and moderate diets,” Petersen said.

“In conclusion, this study shows that the addition of 6.6 g per day of herbs and spices to an average American diet improved 24-hour BP after 4 weeks compared to lower doses of herbs and spices in adults at elevated risk for cardiometabolic diseases,” she said. “Further research is needed to determine whether adding herbs and spices to a healthy dietary pattern would elicit greater cardiometabolic health benefits.”

Melina B. Jampolis

Melina B. Jampolis, MD, a past president of the National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists who was not affiliated with the study, said the findings “support the idea of cutting back on salt and replacing it with herbs and spices.”

Cholesterol benefits of spices in type 2 diabetes

For the third study, Sepideh Alasvand, a PhD student in nutrition and food science at Clemson University in South Carolina, and colleagues investigated the impact of certain spices on cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers analyzed 28 randomized controlled trials, which included 1,049 control participants and 1,035 participants who received spice supplements in capsule form. The spices included ginger (eight studies), turmeric (three studies), curcumin (three studies), cinnamon (11 studies) and curcuminoids (three studies). The trial durations ranged from 1 to 3 months, Alasvand said during a presentation.

In general, Alasvand reported that all spice supplements appeared to improve lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes.

“Therefore, these spices may be a potential source for modern dyslipidemia treatments in individuals with type 2 diabetes,” she said.

The findings support previous research that shows that spices can help patients manage their blood glucose and improve cholesterol, according to Jampolis.

“The wonderful thing about spices is that they can improve the flavor of foods, too, so it’s a win-win,” she said. “Patients are more likely to stick with recommendations that are easy and tasty!”


Alasvand S, et al. A systematic review of the effectiveness of ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, curcumin, and curcuminoids for dyslipidemia associated with diabetes. Presented at: American Society of Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting; June 7-10, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Petersen KS, et al. A culinary dose of herbs and spices improves 24-hour blood pressure in adults at risk for cardiometabolic diseases: A randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding study. Presented at: American Society of Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting; June 7-10, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Rosas M, et al. Effects of fresh mango consumption on blood glucose, insulin, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors in overweight and obese adults. Presented at: American Society of Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting; June 7-10, 2021 (virtual meeting).


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