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After cocktail time comes mango time

You had a great time again, that's not the issue. But now it's time for it to stop: the world spinning round and round. The faster alcohol is eliminated from your blood, the better. Korean researchers have a tip for you: give mango a try.

After cocktail time comes mango time
Alcohol has a strange effect on your brain, although it's not terribly dangerous. An enzyme in your body, alcohol dehydrogenase, converts the legal hard drug (which causes more deaths per year than all illegal performance enhancing drugs put together) into acetaldehyde. The more of this enzyme your body produces, the quicker your system gets rid of the alcohol.

Now acetaldehyde is positively poisonous. Almost all the damaging health effects of alcohol in the long term - such as increased likelihood of liver problems, breast cancer, osteoporosis and muscle decline - are the work of acetaldehyde. And acetaldehyde is also the main cause of a hangover. Once you know what kind of substance acetaldehyde is, you'll look differently at those stories that 'a glass of wine a day is good for you'.

Another enzyme, acetaldehyde-dehydrogenase, converts acetaldehyde into harmless acetate or acetic acid. The more of this enzyme your body makes, the lower your chance of being affected by the damaging effects of alcohol and the less trouble you have from hangovers.

In 2011 researchers at Chung-Ang University in Seoul published the results of a study in which they fed male mice for a day with a liquid extract of mango fruit [MF] or mango peel [MP]. A control group was given water with a little salt [PBS].

The researchers then gave the mice a quantity of alcohol.

When the Koreans analysed the mice's blood an hour later, the alcohol concentration in the mice that had been given mango extract was under half that of the placebo group.

When the Koreans examined the mice's livers, they noticed that the extracts had boosted the activity of the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase [ADH] and acetaldehyde-dehydrogenase [ALDH].

After cocktail time comes mango time

The perfect post-alcohol food boosts the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetate more than it does the conversion of alcohol into acetaldehyde. In the Korean study the mango peel extract fulfils this criterion; the fruit extract does not.

It's not impossible therefore that the mango trick works best after a heavy drinking session, when you're no longer capable of wielding a knife and in your drunken stupor you decide to eat the whole mango, peel and all.

A 2003 Russian study provided inspiration for yet another alternative approach. [Gig Sanit. 2003 Sep-Oct;(5): 58-61.] According to that study, proanthocyanidins in grapes inhibit alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme that converts alcohol into acetaldehyde. So if you stack mango with red grape juice...

J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2011 May;48(3):214-21.