Many people are familiar with the sweet, tropical fruit that comes from mango trees, but you may not realize that the leaves of mango trees are also edible.
Young green mango leaves are very tender and cooked and eaten in some cultures. Because the leaves are very nutritious, they also make tea and supplements.
Mangifera indica leaves, a particular mango species, have been used in healing practices like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
Although the stem, bark, leaves, roots, and fruit are likewise used in traditional medicine, the leaves are believed to help treat diabetes and other health conditions.
Here are 8 emerging benefits and uses of mango leaves, backed by science.
1. Mango leaves are rich in plant compounds
Mango leaves contain several beneficial plant compounds, including polyphenols and terpenoids.
Terpenoids are important for optimal vision and immune health. They’re also antioxidants, which protect your cells from harmful molecules called free radicals.
Meanwhile, polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research suggests that they improve gut bacteria and help treat or prevent conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Mangiferin, a polyphenol found in many plants but in especially high amounts in mango and mango leaves, is credited with numerous benefits.
Studies have investigated it as an anti-microbial agent and a potential treatment for tumors, diabetes, heart disease, and fat digestion abnormalities.
Still, further human research is needed.
Summary: Mango leaves are rich in terpenoids and polyphenols, which are plant compounds that may protect against disease and fight inflammation in your body.
2. Mango leaves may have anti-inflammatory properties
Many potential benefits of mango leaves result from mangiferin’s anti-inflammatory properties.
While inflammation is part of your body’s normal immune response, chronic inflammation can increase your risk of various diseases.
Animal studies suggest that mango leaves’ anti-inflammatory properties may even protect your brain from conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
In one study, mango leaf extract given to rats at 2.3 mg per pound of body weight (5 mg per kg) helped counteract artificially induced oxidative and inflammatory biomarkers in the brain.
All the same, human studies are needed.
Summary: Mango leaves may have anti-inflammatory effects, potentially protecting brain health. Still, research on humans is lacking.
3. Mango leaves may protect against fat gain
Mango leaf extract may help manage obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome by interfering with fat metabolism.
Multiple animal studies have found that mango leaf extract inhibits fat accumulation in tissue cells. Another study in mice shows that cells treated with a mango leaf extract had lower levels of fat deposits and higher levels of adiponectin.
Adiponectin is a cell-signaling protein that affects your body’s fat metabolism and sugar regulation. Higher levels may protect against obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases.
In a study of rats with obesity, those fed mango leaf tea and a high-fat diet gained less abdominal fat than those given a high-fat diet.
In a 12-week study of 97 adults with excess weight, those given 150 mg of mangiferin daily had lower fat levels in their blood and scored significantly better on an insulin resistance index than those given a placebo.
Lower insulin resistance suggests improved diabetes management.
Suggested read: 8 surprising health benefits of coriander
All the same, more human studies are needed.
Summary: Some research suggests that mango leaf extract may help regulate fat metabolism, thus protecting against fat gain and obesity.
4. Mango leaves may help combat diabetes
Mango leaf may help manage diabetes due to its effects on fat metabolism.
Elevated triglycerides levels are often associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
One study gave mango leaf extract to mice. After 2 weeks, they showed significantly lower triglyceride and blood sugar levels.
A study in rats found that administering 45 mg per pound of body weight (100 mg per kg) of mango leaf extract reduced hyperlipidemia, a condition marked by unusually high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.
In a study that compared mango leaf extract and the oral diabetes drug glibenclamide in rats with diabetes, those given the extract had significantly lower blood sugar levels than the glibenclamide group after 2 weeks.
All the same, human studies are lacking.
Summary: Mango leaf extract may help manage diabetes due to its effects on blood sugar and triglycerides, but more research is necessary.
5. Mango leaves may have anticancer properties
Multiple reviews demonstrate that the mangiferin in mango leaves may have anticancer potential, as it combats oxidative stress and fights inflammation.
Test-tube studies suggest specific effects against leukemia and lung, brain, breast, cervix, and prostate cancers.
Moreover, mango bark exhibits strong anticancer potential due to its lignans, another polyphenol type.
Remember that these results are preliminary and that mango leaves should not be considered a cancer treatment.
Summary: Emerging research suggests certain mango leaf compounds may combat cancer. However, more studies are needed.
6. Mango leaves may treat stomach ulcers
Mango leaf and other plant parts have historically been used to aid stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions.
Suggested read: 9 impressive health benefits of kalonji (nigella seeds)
A study in rodents found that orally administering mango leaf extract at 113–454 mg per pound (250–1,000 mg per kg) of body weight decreased the number of stomach lesions.
Another rodent study found similar results, with mangiferin significantly improving digestive damage.
Still, human studies are lacking.
Summary: Animal research indicates that mango leaf may treat stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions, but more studies are needed.
7. Mango leaves may support healthy skin
Mango leaf extract may reduce signs of skin aging due to its antioxidant content.
In a study in mice, mango extract given orally at 45 mg per pound (100 mg per kg) of body weight increased collagen production and significantly shortened the length of skin wrinkles.
Remember that this extract was a general mango extract, not one specific to mango leaves.
Meanwhile, a test-tube study determined that mango leaf extract may have antibacterial effects against Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause staph infections.
Mangiferin has also been studied for psoriasis, which causes itchy, dry patches. A test-tube study using human skin confirmed that this polyphenol encouraged wound healing.
Overall, human research is necessary.
Summary: The antioxidants and polyphenols in mango leaves may delay some of the effects of skin aging and treat certain skin conditions, though more studies are needed.
8. Mango leaves may benefit your hair
Mango leaves promote hair growth, and mango leaf extract may be used in some hair products.
Yet, there’s little scientific evidence to support these claims.
Still, mango leaves are rich in antioxidants, which may protect your hair follicles from damage. In turn, this may aid hair growth.
Studies on humans are needed.
Summary: Because mango leaves are packed with antioxidants, they may safeguard your hair follicles from harm.
How to use mango leaves
While mango leaves can be eaten fresh, tea is one of the most common ways to consume them.
To prepare your own mango leaf tea at home, boil 10–15 fresh mango leaves in 2/3 cups (150 mL) of water.
If fresh leaves aren’t available, you can purchase mango leaf tea bags and loose-leaf tea.
Moreover, mango leaf is available as a powder, extract, and supplement. The powder can be diluted in water, drunk, used in skin ointments, or sprinkled in bathwater.
Suggested read: Foods that are good for your liver
Additionally, a mango leaf capsule called Zynamite comprises 60% or more mangiferin. The recommended dosage is 140–200 mg 1–2 times daily.
Still, due to a lack of safety studies, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before taking mango supplements.
Summary: Mango leaves can be infused into tea or consumed as a powder. You can eat the fresh leaves if they’re available in your area. It’s best to talk to a health professional before taking supplements.
Does mango leaf have any side effects?
Mango leaf powder and tea are considered safe for human consumption.
Limited animal studies suggest no side effects, though human safety studies haven’t been conducted.
Still, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider to discuss dosage and any possible interactions with other medications before taking any form of mango leaf.
Summary: Mango leaf products are generally considered safe for human consumption.
Mango leaves are packed with several antioxidants and plant compounds.
Though research is preliminary, this tropical fruit’s leaf may benefit skin health, digestion, and obesity.
In some places, it’s common to eat cooked mango leaves. However, in the West, they’re most often consumed as a tea or supplement.