What Is Mango?
If you’ve never had mango before, now is the time to try it. Named the most widely consumed fruit in the world, mango (Mangifera indica) is the perfect fruit for summer. Its refreshing and tasty flavor makes the fruit a perfect dessert on its own, or as an addition to smoothies, salsas, and your favorite meals. It’s great as a topping for ice cream, too. Mango even serves as an enjoyable midday snack.
While native to Southern Asia, mango is also grown in warm weather climates in the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States. It is a stone fruit that’s part the drupe family, which means it has a large seed in the middle—also called a pit. There are various types of mango, with the skins typically colored green, orange, red, or yellow and having golden yellow flesh beneath.
Mango skin is inedible, but the sweet, creamy flesh beneath is packed with nutrition. Because of its vast nutrient content, there are a number of potential health benefits of mango.
Mango Nutrition Facts
Mango is a great source of nutrition and antioxidants, but it does have a very high sugar to fiber ratio. One cup (165 grams) of sliced mango has nearly 25 grams of sugar. But along with that, you’re also getting:
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin C||45.7 mg||76%|
|Vitamin B6||0.2 mg||11%|
|Vitamin A||1262 IU||25%|
|Vitamin E||1.8 mcg||9%|
|Vitamin B1||0.1 mg||6%|
Mangoes also contain manganese, niacin, calcium, magnesium, and healthful antioxidants like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.
The above serving size would account for two servings of fruit.
Potential Health Benefits of Mango
The nutritional profile of mango makes it a very healthy snack that may contribute to multiple benefits.
A few studies have indicated that mango can have a positive influence on digestion.
A study from 2018 gave mango to people with chronic constipation for a four-week period. Those who elected to eat the mango experienced “significant improvements in constipation symptoms.”
Although fiber likely played a small role, the more meaningful player was probably a compound called amylase, a digestive enzyme that helps break down large food molecules for better absorption.
The amylase enzymes, combined with the water and fiber in mango, may help improve digestion and enhance gut bacterial population to better break down food and remove waste.
Maintains Eye Health
Mango benefits eye health by being a rich source of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant important in preventing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness.
An intake of three or more fruits per day is associated with a lower risk and the slower progression of AMD.
May Help with Immunity
Many of the nutrients in mango play a big role in immune function and offer protection from illness. Vitamin A and vitamin C, in particular, are essential for a healthy immune system and a reduced risk of illness and infection.
Vitamins A and C also promote the growth of healthy skin and hair.
May Contribute to Heart Health
Animal studies suggest that an antioxidant found in mango, mangiferin, may have protective benefits for the heart. The research has showed mangiferin can reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis in heart cells. Although promising, research in humans is lacking.
Eating plant-based foods, however, is associated with improved heart health, and incorporating mango into your diet is great way to boost your fruit intake.
High in Antioxidants
Mango is high in nutrients that produce antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This means they can be useful in preventing or managing many potential health conditions. Antioxidants work to maintain cellular integrity and reduce damage caused by free radicals. Without adequate antioxidant presence, the risk for certain conditions like cancer increases.
Further, the nutrients in mango can have anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a major driver of various health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, Crohn’s, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The more plant-based foods you can include in your diet, the better. When you eat more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, disease and illness risk has been shown to drop substantially. Mangoes are a fine option among fruits because of their high levels of nutrition, sweet flavor, and versatility.
How to Select, Store, and Eat Mango
When shopping for mango, you don’t want to concern yourself too much with the color of the skin. As mentioned, they are available in a variety of colors.
Instead, you’ll want to administer the touch test. A ripe mango will have a little bit of give when you squeeze it (like a ripe avocado, but not as mushy). It continues to ripen at room temperature, and when it’s as ripe as you want it, feel free to move it to the refrigerator for up to three days.
Plain mango often tastes better when it’s coming from the fridge.
Eating mango can create a bit of challenge for the uninitiated. It takes a slight degree of patience and skill to slice. Mango has a long, flat seed right at its center—the key is learning how to work around it. Here is how to cut mango into slices or cubes:
- Slice it just past the seed. (You must determine the tallest line of the mango to locate the seed.)
- Cut the flesh without breaking skin.
- Scoop out the slices.
- To dice, slice across the cuts you’ve already made. (You can fully peel the mango before slicing, if desired.)
It might take some practice, but you’ll get it. And if you figure you’d like to make mango a regular part of your diet, you could pick up a mango-slicing tool.
Once your mango is cut, feel free to enjoy it on its own or add it to a smoothie, some ice cream, yogurt, salads, salsa, or anything else. It’s a refreshing and versatile snack that pairs easily with and enhances a variety of recipes.
3 Mango Recipes
1. Fresh Mango Salsa
Time: 15 minutes Servings: 3 cups
3 ripe mangos, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt, to taste
In a bowl, combine the diced mango, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, and bell pepper. Coat with lime juice and mix. Season with salt and let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes.
2. Honey Mango Smoothie
1 cup mango, chopped
1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups ice cubes
1/8 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
Combine all ingredients in a food processor/blender and blend until smooth.
3. Snapper, Shrimp, and Mango Ceviche
Times: 40 minutes Serves: 8
1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 medium shallot, sliced into thin rounds
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz rock shrimp, sliced in half lengthwise
8 oz red snapper filet (skinless, boneless, and cut into 1/2” pieces)
Coarse sea salt, to taste
1 mango, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
1-14 oz can hearts of palm, drained, sliced crosswise
6 roasted red peppers from a jar, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh basil and cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl, combine orange juice, lime juice, shallot, and red pepper flakes. Add shrimp and red snapper, and season with salt. Toss to combine. Let the mixture rest, tossing only occasionally, for roughly 20 to 25 minutes.
- Add mango, avocado, hearts of palm, red peppers, basil-cilantro blend, and oil to ceviche. Toss to coat.
Try a Mango This Summer: You’ll Be Glad You Did
Mango goes great with summer. It’s a refreshing taste that adds freshness to light summer meals and snacks. It also packs a number of health benefits and can contribute to healthy diet.
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