Durian-mangosteen combination benefits health, research shows

Summer in Thailand can be torture in the heat, but it’s also the best time of year to take advantage of the abundance of local fruits, especially durian, which is dubbed the ‘king of fruits’. Rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber, durian is also high in sugar, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise. However, pairing durian with mangosteen — popularly called the “queen of fruits” — may benefit your health, according to a study by Mahidol University’s Institute of Nutrition.

“Most people believe that the mixture of durian and mangosteen helps reduce body heat, as durian can raise body temperature. Mangosteen, on the other hand, has a cooling effect. This long-held belief had never been properly investigated, so we decided to conduct research to prove the benefits of the combination,” says Assoc Professor Kunchit Judprasong, who leads the research team.

His team found that the average Glycemic Response Index (GRI) percentage of the combination of durians and mangosteens in healthy people was “low” in terms of the glycemic index (GI), the food ranking containing carbohydrates based on their ability to raise blood sugar levels.

Low GI foods break down slowly and thus help to keep blood sugar levels stable. They can also help the individual feel full longer, academic grades.

A perfect match of health and flavor

Conducted in 2020, the study involved 24 people; 12 healthy people and 12 people with type 2 diabetes and was designed to study changes in blood sugar and insulin responses after consuming durian and mangosteen containing 50 grams of carbohydrates. the Monthong optimally ripened durians and perfectly ripened mangosteens were selected for the study.

“We only used the edible part of the fruit,” says Kunchit.

The subjects each ate 5 different combinations, namely: (1) durian 100% (D100); (2) Mangosteen 100% (M100); (3) durian 25% and mangosteen 75% (D25M75); (4) durian 50% and mangosteen 50% (D50M50); and (5) 75% durian and 25% mangosteen (D75M25).

A reference blood sample was taken before the test for comparative analysis. Blood was then drawn again at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 180 minutes after consumption of each combination for glucose and insulin analysis. Test results were compared to baseline.

In the healthy group, the results showed that the GRI percentage of the M100 and D100 groups was 66 and 62, respectively, falling into the “average GI” category. The D50M50, D75M25, and D25M75 groups were 52, 43, and 40, respectively, and categorized as “low GI.”

Foods with a GI of less than 55 are classified as “low”, with “medium” ranging from 55 to 70, while “high” is over 70.

Among the subjects with type 2 diabetes, the GRI percentage of M100 was 59 which was classified as medium GI, while the D100, D50M50, D75M25 and D25M75 groups were 51%, 54%, 53% and 49% respectively. However, there were no significant differences in the percentage of GRI after consumption of the 5 combinations between healthy subjects and those with type 2 diabetes.

“We concluded that durian and mangosteen combination has some health benefits. But don’t overdo it. Both fruits are high in sugar and carbohydrates,” says Kunchit.

On the flavor side, the durian and mangosteen pairing can work well. The refreshing, slightly sour taste of mangosteens is the perfect antidote to rich, creamy durian.


Durian & athe alcohol, a terrible accompaniment

Durian does not go well with alcohol. Health authorities and nutritionists warn against consuming durian while drinking alcohol, as it can make you sick or, in extreme cases, be fatal.

Independent nutritionist Sanga Damapong claims that durians contain high amounts of a sulfur-based compound that can highlight symptoms of drunkenness and cause abnormalities in the respiratory system.

Kunchit agrees, noting that the compound can slow metabolism.

“When you eat durian and drink alcohol at the same time, the beverage you ingest may not be broken down properly. And when you consume too much of both, the liver has to work harder to process the sugars and fats in fruit and drink,” he says.

There is no scientific evidence that proves that combining the two can kill, although there have been reports of people dying soon after consuming this unwise mixture.

One of the most recent cases involved a 24-year-old member of the Thai Air Force. He was found dead earlier this week in an apartment in Chiang Mai a few hours after consuming two large servings of durian washed down with 2 bottles of beer. His girlfriend said in a media interview that the airman told her he felt very dizzy after consuming the fruit and drink combination. He fell unconscious and stopped breathing. A team of rescuers was unable to save his life.

Kunchit says people who die shortly after consuming the combo may have underlying health issues like high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes.

Durian Buffet held recently in Bangkok. (Photo by Veena Thoopkrajae)

Smelly but incredibly tasty and nutritious

Durians have a bad reputation for their smell. The powerful aroma of Chania variety can make you lose your footing on a hot summer day. No wonder then that the fruit is banned in public transport and hotel rooms.

Durian has a distinctive taste and texture. Smooth, smooth, sweet and creamy and strongly reminiscent of custard or cake, many people think the taste is absolutely divine. Others hate it.

Interestingly, it is rich in nutrients that provide health benefits despite being higher in calories and fat than many other fruits. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Kunchit recommends no more than 2 popular pods Monthong, which is also grown commercially, per serving but for Kraduum and Chania varieties, you can enjoy them more due to their small pod sizes.

“If you’re watching your weight, only eat it occasionally,” he says.

Durian contains a good amount of fiber which helps support normal digestion and protect against constipation. According to the Thai Food Composition Database compiled by the Nutrition Institute of Mahidol University, per 100g, the ChaniaThe variety has a dietary fiber of 3.6g, compared to 1.9g for ripe papayas and 1.6g for rambutans which are also in season.

Each 100g of Monthong The variety also contains around 36 mg of vitamin C. The level is considerably higher than a ripe Nam Dok Mai mango (10 mg) and a mangosteen (5 mg). But the Monthong is beaten by guava (173mg) which is an excellent source of vitamin C.

the Kraduum The variety has a medium level of beta-carotene which helps prevent night blindness and other eye and skin problems. At the same 100g serving, the variety contains 270 micrograms (mcg) of beta-carotene. The amount is close to that of ripe papaya (278 mcg), which is a rich source of carotenoids like beta-carotene.

In addition, durian contains antioxidants that help prevent free radicals, substances that damage cells in our body, accelerate aging and many disease processes. On top of that, it is cholesterol free.

“So you should eat a wide variety of fruits because each of them provides different types of nutrients,” says Kunchit.

By Veena Thoopkrajae with additional reporting by SukhumapornLaiyok