For centuries, mangoes, these tropical fruits have been prized for their sweet and lively taste. More recently, research has highlighted additional benefits in terms of key nutrients that help people fight disease, maintain a healthy weight, and even prevent certain signs of aging.
Like peaches and cherries, mangoes are known as stone fruits because of their central pit, which is easily recognized by its large size and flat oval shape. Mangoes are native to India, but today they grow in abundance in Mexico, South America. While once considered exotic, mangoes are now available in most supermarkets and are a common ingredient in many dishes due to their popular taste and versatility. It’s delicious sliced, chopped, mashed, juiced and even roasted. Here’s everything you need to know about mangoes, including their nutritional content and health benefits, plus other ways to enjoy them.
Nutritional profile of mango
1 cup of mango cut into pieces contains:
1 gram (g) of protein
6 g of fat
25 g of carbohydrates
3 g of fiber
23 g of sugars
89 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A
7 mcg vitamin K
60 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
What are the potential health benefits of mango?
Research conducted on mangoes has found that they can provide a number of nutritional benefits, including:
Mango is rich in vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system. A one-cup serving provides two-thirds of the vitamin C you need in a day. Vitamin C plays an important role in the body’s healing process and helps it form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and bone collagen.
Protection against damage caused by free radicals
Free radicals are compounds associated with many chronic diseases and with aging in general. The high levels of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamin C, found in mangoes help protect cells from free radical damage. They are also a source of phytochemicals, which are plant compounds known to have health-promoting properties. Certain phytochemicals in mango, including phenolic acids, mangiferin, carotenoids and gallotannins, have been associated with anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity and anti-cancer effects.
Improved digestive health
One cup of mango contains about 3g of fiber, or about 10% of what you need in a day. Dietary fiber has long been recognized as essential for digestive health. Additionally, according to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, mango significantly improves constipation, including stool frequency and consistency. In this study, mango was found to be more effective than a supplement providing the same amount of fiber (300 grams). One possible reason, according to the study’s authors: Eating mangoes can increase healthy fatty acids and stomach secretions that aid digestion.
Research has shown that fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids, including mangoes, can help reduce the risk of colon cancer Similarly, early research indicates that the micronutrients in mangoes can help reduce colon cancer cells. Results of a mouse study, published in Nutrition Research, showed that dietary mango reduced tumor size and suppressed cancer growth factors. (Of course, more research in humans is needed.)
Mango contains vitamin B6, which is responsible for the production of serotonin, a chemical that promotes sleep and regulates our mood. Three-quarters of a cup of mango typically covers 8% of your daily B6 needs.
A clearer vision
Mango contains antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamin A, all of which help to protect our eyes and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Although more research is needed to determine the exact link between zeaxanthin and age-related macular degeneration, this specific antioxidant may increase the concentration of macular pigment, leading to healthier eyes.
Helps with inflammatory diseases
Many nutrients in mangoes, including antioxidants and vitamin C, have anti-inflammatory effects. People with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions may benefit from consuming mangoes.
Improved cardiovascular and gut health.
Eating two cups of mangoes daily was beneficial for systolic blood pressure in healthy postmenopausal women, according to findings presented at the 2018 meeting of the American Society for Nutrition. This is likely due to the polyphenols (such as mangiferin, quercetin, gallotannins and gallic acid) that the fruit contains, the study authors theorized. It is clear that mangoes can be part of a balanced diet and help you stay healthy. But they are not a panacea and will not magically cure or prevent disease, and they cannot compensate for poor nutrition.
How to choose and store mangoes
Mangoes can be found in supermarkets all year round.
Choose mangoes that have a good balance between firmness and sweetness. Ripe mangoes are more yellow and reddish. If you buy ripe mangoes, put them in the fridge. If you choose unripe mangoes, leave them at room temperature. To extend the shelf life of ripe mangoes, consider freezing them. Cut them into cubes and put them in a ziplock bag. This will give you a supply on hand to make smoothies. Slicing fruit can be difficult. This is due to the wide, flat core that sits in the middle. You should use the pit as a guide to slide your knife over the fruit. There are tutorials online showing how to cut mangoes properly.
How to eat mangoes
You can enjoy mango on its own as a sweet snack, but its tropical flavor pairs well with many other foods. Cut it into slices and add it to smoothies, yogurt or desserts. Mango can also be used in savory dishes and you can roast it to caramelize its natural sugars.
Dessert idea: Mix cubed mango, pineapple and kiwi with lemon and lime juice and add grated ginger.