What is a Mango?
Mango is a stone fruit produced from numerous species of tropical trees belonging to the flowering plant genus Mangifera, cultivated mostly for their edible fruit. Most of these species are found in nature as wild mangoes.
Mangoes are native to South Asia, from where the “common mango” or “Indian mango”, Mangifera indica, has been distributed worldwide to become one of the most widely cultivated fruits in the tropics. Other Mangifera species (e.g. horse mango, Mangifera foetida) are grown on a more localized basis.
Worldwide, there are several hundred cultivars of mango. Depending on the cultivar, mango fruit varies in size, shape, sweetness, skin color, and flesh color which may be pale yellow, gold, or orange.
There is a reason India considers mango as the national fruit.
Being a tropical paradise, India has the best weather for growing mangoes. As a result, newer varieties are always being created and found. According to the National Horticulture Board, there are about 1500 varieties of mangoes across the sub-continent.
The Different Names of Mangos
The English word mango (plural “mangoes” or “mangos”) originated from the Portuguese word, manga, from the Malay word, mangga, and from the Dravidian languages (Tamil) word, mankay, where man represents the “mango tree” and kay represents the “fruit”. The name, mango, developed during the spice trade with South India in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Mangos are seasonal produce; fresh mango fruit season begins by March-end when its rich fragrance heralds its arrival in the markets.
Mangoes are normally harvested while they are green but perfectly matured on the tree. Unripe fruits are extremely sour. Organic mangoes are left to ripen on the tree; however, fully ripe fruits fall off the tree and tend to get spoiled.
Mango is low in calories but full of nutrients.
One cup (165 grams) of sliced mango provides:
- Calories: 99
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Carbs: 24.7 grams
- Fat: 0.6 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 67% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Copper: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 11.6% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 9.7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5: 6.5% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 6% of the RDI
- Niacin: 7% of the RDI
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 5% of the RDI
- Manganese: 4.5% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
It also contains small amounts of phosphorus, pantothenic acid, calcium, selenium, and iron.
Consuming mangoes can help protect and strengthen the body in several ways. The sections below discuss these benefits in more detail.
1. Age-related macular degeneration
Mangoes contain two antioxidants called zeaxanthin and lutein. These accumulate in the retina of the eye — the part that converts light into brain signals so your brain can interpret what you’re seeing — especially at its core, the macula (Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
The review cites the anti-inflammatory properties of zeaxanthin as a possible cause of this protective mechanism.
These accumulate in the retina of the eye — the part that converts light into brain signals so your brain can interpret what you’re seeing — especially at its core, the macula (Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
Inside the retina, lutein and zeaxanthin act as a natural sunblock, absorbing excess light. In addition, they appear to protect your eyes from harmful blue light (Trusted Source).
Mangoes are also a good source of vitamin A, which supports eye health.
A lack of dietary vitamin A has been linked to dry eyes and nighttime blindness. More severe deficiencies can cause more serious issues, such as corneal scarring (Trusted Source).
2. High in Antioxidants
Mango is packed with polyphenols — plant compounds that function as antioxidants.
It has over a dozen different types, including mangiferin, catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, benzoic acid, and many others
Amongst the polyphenols, mangiferin has gained the most interest and is sometimes called a “super antioxidant” since it’s especially powerful.
3. May Help Lower Your Risk of Certain Cancers
Mango is high in polyphenols, which may have anticancer properties.
Also, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that a diet high in beta-carotene content can help protect against skin cancer. Orange fruits and vegetables, such as mangoes, contain beta-carotene. They also suggest that it can boost the action of the immune system against disease.
Test-tube and animal studies found that mango polyphenols reduced oxidative stress and stopped the growth or destroyed various cancer cells, including leukemia and cancer of the colon, lung, prostate, and breast (Trusted Source, Trusted Source, Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
Mangiferin, a major polyphenol in mango, has recently gained attention for its promising anticancer effects. In animal studies, it reduced inflammation, protected cells against oxidative stress, and either stopped the growth of cancer cells or killed them (Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
While these studies are promising, human studies are needed to better understand mango polyphenols anticancer effects in people.
4. May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetes
A 2019 mouse study Trusted Source into mango leaves found that some plant compounds had a powerful effect on risk factors for diabetes. These included lower body weight, reduced blood sugar levels, and lower levels of fats in the blood.
This study does not clarify whether or not mango flesh provides the same benefits. However, one 2014 study Trusted Source found that eating freeze-dried mangoes reduced blood sugar levels in people with obesity.
5. May Improve Digestive Health
Mango has several qualities that make it excellent for digestive health.
For one, it contains a group of digestive enzymes called amylase.
Digestive enzymes break down large food molecules so that they can be easily absorbed.
Amylase breaks down complex carbs into sugars, such as glucose and maltose. These enzymes are more active in ripe mangoes, which is why they’re sweeter than unripe ones (Trusted Source).
Moreover, since mango contains plenty of water and dietary fiber, it may help solve digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea.
One four-week study in adults with chronic constipation found that eating mango daily was more effective at relieving symptoms of the condition than a supplement containing a similar amount of soluble fiber (Trusted Source).
This indicates that mango has other components aside from dietary fiber that aid digestive health.
6. May Support Heart Health
Mango contains nutrients that support a healthy heart.
Mango also contains a unique antioxidant called mangiferin.
In addition, it may lower blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and free fatty acid levels (Trusted Source).
While these findings are promising, research on mangiferin and heart health in humans is currently lacking. Therefore, more studies are needed before it can be recommended as a treatment.
7. May Improve Hair and Skin Health
Mango is high in vitamin C, which promotes healthy hair and skin.
Additionally, mango is a good source of vitamin A, which encourages hair growth and the production of sebum — a liquid that helps moisturize your scalp to keep your hair healthy (Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
Aside from vitamins A and C, mango is high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants.
8. May Boost Immunity
Mango is a good source of immune-boosting nutrients.
One cup (165 grams) of mango provides 10% of your daily vitamin A needs (Trusted Source).
Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system, as it helps fight infections. Meanwhile, not getting enough vitamin A is linked to a greater infection risk (Trusted Source, Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
On top of this, the same amount of mango provides nearly three-quarters of your daily vitamin C needs. This vitamin can help your body produce more disease-fighting white blood cells, help these cells work more effectively, and improve your skin’s defenses (Trusted Source, Trusted Source).
Mango also contains folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, and several B vitamins, which aid immunity as well (Trusted Source).
9. May Delicious, Versatile, and Easy to Add to Your Diet
Mango is delicious, versatile, and easy to add to your diet.
However, it can be difficult to cut due to its tough skin and large pit.
A good idea is to cut long vertical slices 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) away from the middle to separate the flesh from the pit. Next, cut the flesh into a grid-like pattern and scoop it out of the rind.
- Add it to smoothies.
- Dice it and add to salsas.
- Toss it into a summer salad.
- Slice it and serve it along with other tropical fruits.
- Dice it and add to quinoa salads.
Keep in mind that mango is sweeter and contains more sugar than many other fruits. Moderation is key — it’s best to limit mango to no more than two cups (330 grams) per day at most.
Mango is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and has been associated with many health benefits, including potential anti-cancer effects as well as improved immunity, digestive, eye, skin, and hair health.
How to store mangoes
- Firm mangoes can be left on the counter at room temperature for a couple of days to ripen. (Or place the fruit in a paper bag with an apple to speed up the process.)
- You may be able to store ripe mangoes in the fridge for a few days without them going bad.
- Store cut the mango in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within one to two days.
Please let us know in the comments below:
- Do you eat mangos? If so, what kind is your favorite?
- Do you have a certain illness that was relieved by eating mangoes? If so, what is it?
- What other mango recipes can you share with us?
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