Mangoes have been named the most widely consumed fruit in the world. Some of the possible health benefits of eating mango include a decreased risk of macular degeneration and colon cancer, improvement in digestion and bone health, and even benefits for the skin and hair. The mango is a member of the drupe family, a type of plant food with an outer fleshy part surrounding a shell (what we sometimes call a pit) that contains a seed. Olives, dates, and coconuts are also types of drupes.
There are many different kinds of mangoes; they range in color, shape, flavor, and seed size. While the skin color of mangoes can vary from green to red, yellow, or orange, the inner flesh of the mango is mostly a golden yellow. They have a sweet and creamy taste and contain over 20 vitamins and minerals.
Possible health benefits of mangoes
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like mangoes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Age-related macular degeneration
The antioxidant zeaxanthin, found in mangoes, filters out harmful blue light rays and is thought to play a protective role in eye health and possibly ward off damage from macular degeneration. A higher intake of all fruits (three or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
The risk of developing asthma is lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is beta-carotene, found in mangoes, papaya, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and carrots.
Mango has aphrodisiac qualities and is also called the ‘love fruit’. Mangoes increase the virility in men. Vitamin E, which is abundantly present in mangoes, helps to regulate sex hormones and boosts sex drive.
Diets rich in beta-carotene may also play a protective role against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer in a Japanese study. In a study conducted by Texas AgriLife Research, food scientists tested mango polyphenol extracts on colon, breast, lung, leukemia, and prostate cancer tissue; mangoes were shown to have some impact on all cancers tested but were most effective with breast and colon cancers. The researchers are planning to do a follow-up study; they will focus on individuals with increased inflammation in their intestines and therefore a higher risk for cancer.
Low intakes of vitamin K are associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption can be achieved by eating a proper intake of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin K is important for improving calcium absorption, essential for optimal bone health.
Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels; and individuals with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One cup of mango provides about 3 grams of fiber.
Mangoes, because of their fiber and water content, help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
The fiber, potassium, and vitamin content in mangoes all help to ward off heart disease. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of hypertension.
Skin and Hair
Mangoes are also great for your hair because they contain vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Adequate intake of vitamin C, found in just 1 cup of mango per day, is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair.
Nutrition by the Numbers
One cup (225 grams contain) contains the following. Percentages apply to daily value.
- 105 calories
- 76 percent vitamin C (antioxidant and immune booster)
- 25 percent vitamin A (antioxidant and vision)
- 11 percent vitamin B6 plus other B vitamins (hormone production in brain and heart disease prevention)
- 9 percent healthy probiotic fiber
- 9 percent copper (copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes plus production of red blood cells)
- 7 percent potassium (to balance out our high sodium intake)
- 4 percent magnesium
Incorporating more mangoes into your diet
Learn to not judge the ripeness of a mango by its’ color. Look for fresh mangoes that yield slightly to pressure when ripe. Avoid fruits with many black freckles on the skin. Mangoes will continue to ripen at room temperature. When at the desired ripeness, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Mangoes taste best when slightly chilled.
- Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh papaya, pineapple, and mango.
- Muddle mango into your glass of lemonade, iced tea, or water for a burst of fresh fruity flavor.
- Make a fresh salsa with papaya, mango, jalapeno, red peppers, and chipotle pepper and use as a topper for fish tacos.
- Add a few slices of frozen mango to your smoothies. Combine with pineapple juice, frozen strawberries, and Greek yogurt for a sweet tropical treat.
- If you have a latex allergy, a reaction is possible with mangos, particularly green mangos. This reaction develops because of anacardic acid.
- Mango peel and sap contain urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac which can cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals.
- Mangos are ripened by some dealers using calcium carbide, which can cause serious health problems (one more reason to buy organic). If you do have inorganic mangos, wash them properly before consuming or soak overnight in water.
With all these benefits, mangoes are a delicious way to stay in great health! There are a few precautions to take for some individuals when thinking about trying mangoes for the first time or who may have certain health issues and allergies. Nevertheless, for most people, mangoes are an excellent addition to your menu and offer many benefits. Mangoes are a low-calorie, highly nutrient dense food. They contain compounds that can help you lose weight, keep away heart disease and cancer, improve brain function and digestion, and offer many other health benefits.
Mangoes have become easily accessible and are affordable for almost any budget. Mangoes are delicious raw and on their own, or they can be creatively added to many different types of recipes. You may not be able to grow your own mango trees if you don’t live in the tropics, but you can choose the ripest, juiciest fruits to add to your dishes. Since they’re available year-round, you can pick up one today.
Easy Mango Recipes
Mangoes can be used in a variety of dishes when a citrusy sweet punch is what you’re hoping to achieve. From smoothies, breakfasts, and savory lunches and dinners all the way to dessert, mango is a versatile ingredient that can complement many other flavors.
Try these easy mango recipes to brighten up your meal plan this week.
Mango Raspberry Protein Smoothie
- 1 fresh mango, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup frozen raspberries
- ½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth.
Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy.
If it is too thin, add 3–5 ice cubes and blend again.
If you would like your smoothie to have more sweetness, add 2–3 tablespoons of fresh raw honey.
Grilled Mango Shrimp Kabobs
- 1½ pounds raw peeled and deveined shrimp
- 2 large mangoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 2 small bell peppers, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 pound peeled pearl onions
- 1 cup Teriyaki sauce
- Wooden skewers soaked in water overnight
On each skewer, alternate threading a shrimp, a mango cube, a bell pepper cube, and a pearl onion until there is about 1½” of skewer remaining on each side.
Once all skewers are loaded, place on a grill prepared at high heat.
Glaze the top with teriyaki sauce, and then flip after about 4 minutes and glaze the other side, cooking for about 3 more minutes or until shrimp are opaque.
Alternately, you can bake them in an oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or when the shrimp are opaque.
Mango Avocado Black Bean Dip
- 2 large mangoes, roughly chopped
- 1 can, about 15 oz. of black beans, drained
- 1 can, about 15 oz. of chickpeas, drained
- 1 medium or large ripe avocado, roughly chopped
- ½ red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper with seeds removed
- Dash of sea salt
- Dash of black pepper
- Dash of chili powder
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. This is best eaten within 3 days, since the avocado may begin to brown, which may change the flavor and texture. This dip is ideal for chips but is also perfect alongside many vegetables or as a topping for tacos. It can also be used as a dressing for salads.