Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about our national fruit—the sweet golden mango—now comes a study that shines a light on its other non-fruit part.
As seen in the latest issue of the Philippine Journal of Science, a study led by Arsenia B. Sapin, a researcher from the University of the Philippines Los Baños’s National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, found that extracts from leaves of carabao, pico, apple mango, sinaging and sipsipin mango varieties contain antioxidants that can rival the potency of ascorbic acid, a popular skincare ingredient.[READ: This plastic alternative by a Cebuano researcher is made from mango peel and seaweed]
The study investigated aqueous acetone extracts from leaves to determine their total phenolics content (TPC), phenolics composition and biological activities. In particular, it was looking for the extracts’ antioxidant, tyrosinase and elastase inhibitory properties. The conclusion affirms previous studies done in foreign mango cultivars that show that mango leaf extracts have antioxidation, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties, among others.
“All the extracts exhibited greater antioxidant capacity than the standard ascorbic acid, implying greater protection against skin damages due to free radicals,” Sapin and her team wrote.
Apple mango leaf extracts have the most potent elastase (enzyme for aging) inhibitor, about 10 times more effective compared to the standard tocopherol or vitamin E compound commonly found in nuts, oil and vegetables.
For a fairer skin-obsessed nation, which relies on products that contain mostly papaya extracts, mango leaves also pose a potential alternative source for skin brightening. Extracts from young leaves of pico and carabao varieties were most potent in inhibiting tyrosinase, the skin darkening enzyme, the study found. And while it is not comparable to kojic acid—another popular whitening ingredient—mature apple mango leaves’ extract is found to be a better whitening agent than ascorbic acid.
“The results of this study could provide consumers with effective nature-based ingredients for safer cosmetic products, and for healthier and beautiful skin, as an alternative to the synthetic ones available in the market,” Sapin said.
Mangoes—the fruit—are among the country’s top exports, with over 700 metric tons produced in 2019, according to research cited in the study. However, other utilizations of the entire tree lag far behind.
“There were only a few works exploring the potentials and utilization of the non-fruit parts of the mango tree such as the bark and leaves. In other countries, this area of study is much explored and given importance,” the introduction to the study read. So, could we expect mango leaf extracts in more of our skincare products? French cosmetics company L’Oréal has already begun by using polyphenols from mango leaves for its products.