Just the taste of mangoes can create a delightful tropical experience for your taste buds, but did you know that the mighty mango also delivers a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and enzymes to benefit health? And that it’s a great high-fiber food and high-antioxidant food? It’s true. It’s no wonder, then, that the mango is often referred to as the “king of fruits.”
The name mango come from the Tamil word mangkay or mangay; however, when Portuguese traders arrived and settled in Western India, they embraced the name manga, which eventually gave way to the modern-day version of mango.
Throughout history, every part of the mango — including the fruit itself, its skin, leaves, bark of its tree or even the pit — has been used as a health remedy in one form or another. But before diving headlong into all things “mango nutrition,” here’s more of a backdrop on the sweet and delicious mango.
What Is the Mango?
Not to be confused with a tropical American hummingbird going by the same name, the mango is an oval-shaped, creamy, juicy and fleshy tropical fruit — actually a drupe or stone fruit, which has a characteristic outer fleshy part surrounding a shell (pit or stone) with a seed inside. Coconuts, cherries, plums, peaches, olives and dates are also drupes.
With a flavor often described as a cross between a peach and a pineapple — and like the benefits of pineapple, providing well over 20 vitamins and minerals — the mango is the fruit of a large evergreen that grows almost exclusively in the tropics and sub-tropics. Mangoes can vary in skin color — from green to red or yellow to orange — but the inner flesh of the mango is typically golden yellow.
Mango seeds traveled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America in approximately 300 or 400 A.D. and were first cultivated in Malaysia, Eastern Asia as well as Eastern Africa, but Portuguese explorers introduced mangoes to the people of Africa and Brazil.
Mangoes’ popularity grew and grew so that, today, mangoes currently hold the honor of being named the most widely consumed fruit in the world. And know this: In India, giving someone a basket of mangoes is considered an act of friendship.
In short, mangoes are beloved fruits that are also nutritional powerhouses.
Mango Nutrition Facts
Belonging to the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae and going by the scientific name Mangifera indica L., mangoes are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
One cup of diced mango contains the following:
- 100 calories
- 28 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 0.8 grams of protein
- 46 milligrams of vitamin C (76 percent daily value (DV))
- 1262 IU of vitamin A (35 percent DV)
- 23.1 micrograms of folate (20 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams of vitamin B6 ( 11 percent DV)
- 1.8 milligrams of vitamin E (9 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams of copper (9 percent DV)
- 6.9 micrograms of vitamin K (8 percent DV)
- 257 milligrams of potassium (7 percent DV)
Mangoes also provide calcium; iron; magnesium; and powerful antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, quercetin, astragalin and beta-carotene.
12 Major Health Benefits of Mango Nutrition
Studies continue to indicate the health benefits of mango nutrition, including some new research conducted at Oklahoma State University. But I want to highlight 12 major health benefits of mango nutrition, giving you at least a dozen reasons why you should add more mangoes to your diet.
1. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
More recently, mango consumption has been linked to the lowering of blood sugar among obese adults. Although it did not produce weight loss, regular consumption of mango did have a positive effect on their blood glucose. Meanwhile, other studies indicate blood sugar management with mango consumption as well glycemic control.
2. Blood Pressure Management
Since mangoes are a food rich in magnesium and potassium as well as low in sodium, they are another natural way to lower blood pressure. Called “the silent killer,” high blood pressure affects approximately 70 million American adults, which is nearly one in every three adults, while only about half of those have their blood pressure under control.
3. Boost Brain Health
Considered one of the great brain foods, mangoes are packed with vitamin B6, which is essential for maintaining, if not improving, brain function. Vitamin B6 and other B vitamins are crucial for maintaining healthy brain neurotransmitters and also help in supporting a healthy mood as well as healthy sleep patterns.
4. Possible Protection from Age-Related Macular Degeneration
As part of their mango nutrition matrix, mangoes contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin works to filter out harmful blue light rays, thereby playing a protective role in eye health as well as possibly protecting against age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Age-related macular degeneration destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision necessary for seeing clearly.
5. Boost Bone Health
Mangoes contain good levels of bone-building vitamin K, and a vitamin K deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture. Vitamin K is also important for proper calcium absorption, another important function for bone health. And remember: Mangoes also provide calcium, which is a major bone nutrient.
6. Lower Heart Disease Risk
Mangoes contain high amounts of pectin, a soluble fiber that can help naturally lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Add that to the low sodium levels as well as high potassium and B vitamins, and together, they can help lower the risk for heart disease. Heart disease is a major killer, too — the leading cause of death for both women and men in the U.S.
7. Combat Cancer
As mentioned, mangoes are high in pectin, which not only helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood, but can also guard against prostate cancer. A compound within pectin combines with galectin 3, a protein that plays a strong part in all stages of cancer.
Additionally, high dietary intakes of beta-carotene — of which mangoes contain a lot — can help protect against prostate cancer. Mangoes may also be beneficial for fighting breast cancer. Although research is still in the early stages, mangoes may be a helpful part of natural cancer treatment protocol.
Mangoes are also rich in iron and may be part of the answer for the millions of people worldwide who are iron deficient. In fact, an iron deficiency can lead to becoming anemic, since iron deficiency is the most common feature of anemia. If this describes you or a loved one, consider eating more mangoes and other iron-packed foods.
9. Anti-Aging Attributes
No one wants to show signs of aging — especially before their time — and mangoes can help slow the process of natural aging due to their high amounts of vitamins A and C, which help produce collagen proteins within the body. Collagen is known to help slow down the skin’s natural aging process by protecting blood vessels and bodily connective tissue.
10. Increase Immunity
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against unwanted invaders and has everything to do with keeping you healthy. As we’ve discussed, mangoes are rich in beta-carotene, which also helps bolster a healthy immune system. Likewise, extra beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A inside the body, and vitamin A can help you fight free radicals that can damage your body and health.
11. Relieve Constipation
An average-sized mango can have up to 40 percent of your daily requirement for fiber, and fiber offers many health benefits, including acting as a natural remedy for constipation.
12. Avoid Asthma
People who consume certain nutrients such as beta-carotene can lower their risk for developing asthma. As you’ll recall from the mango nutrition lineup, mangoes are chock-full of beta-carotene and thus can act as an asthma natural remedy. Asthma occurs as a result of inflammation in air passages, resulting in temporary narrowing of airways transporting air from the nose and mouth to the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or even death.
The History of the Mango and Interesting Mango Facts
Native to southern and southeast Asia, the mango is one of the most cultivated fruits in the tropics. The common mango, or Indian mango, is the only mango tree routinely cultivated in several tropical and sub-tropical areas, and originated between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago in what is now present-day eastern India, Pakistan and Burma.
Prior to their appearance and cultivation in California in approximately 1880, mango cultivation is thought to have begun in Florida and Hawaii earlier in the 1800s.
As the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines as well as the national tree of Bangladesh, the mango fruit and its leaves are used ritually to decorate religious ceremonies, community festivals and celebrations as well as weddings. It should come as no surprise to note that many stories in Indian mythology mention the mango plant. In fact, Buddha is said to have meditated in a mango grove under the shade of a mango tree.
India holds the title of being the world’s major producer of mangoes — with over 1,000 varieties of mangoes available — although China, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand cultivate mangoes as well. In the U.S., Florida is the chief producer of mangoes.
The mango is not only fascinating due to its longevity and popularity as a fruit, but it also has some unusual relatives. Did you know that mangoes are from the same family as pistachios and cashews? It’s true.
Likewise, mango trees can grow to great heights — anywhere from 65 to 100 feet tall. They can also live for extended periods of time. In fact, some mango trees have lived for more than 300 years and continue to bear fruit at such a ripe old age.
How to Use Mangoes
When selecting your mangoes, get your hands on them and press them slightly. They should “give” somewhat from the pressure of your fingertips, and then you should see a slight depression on the mango’s surface. That means the mango is ripe and ready to be used.
If your mangoes are still a bit unripened, then place them in a paper bag in a warm place. They’ll ripen within two days. However, you can also choose to keep unripened mangoes at room temperature to ripen, which will take them about a week. Storage in the refrigerator, however, will make them last for about two weeks.
There are so many ways to enjoy mangoes, too, but perhaps one of the best ways is to have it fresh — all by itself. You can dice it or slice it, but either way, it’s a heavenly treat!
You can also add it to other like kinds of fruits, including fresh pineapple and papaya, making a delectable tropical fruit salad.
It’s also great added to your healthy smoothie recipes. Yum!
You can even jazz it up to create a savory salsa with mango, papaya, jalapeño, chipotle pepper and cayenne pepper — and pair it with heathy dipping chips or to top fish tacos or beef tacos.
Here’s a mango smoothie recipe you’re going to love — and one you can make in a hurry without shortchanging yourself nutritionally! It makes a great, fast, healthy breakfast; a pre- or post-workout treat; or afternoon snack.
Total Time: 2 minutes
Ingredients: (use organic to keep it clean)
- 1 mango, peeled and pitted
- juice of 1 medium lime
- ¼ to ½ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 to 4 ounces of spring water
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Enjoy!
Also, try these other mango recipes:
Possible Side Effects of or Cautions About Mangoes
Since mangoes are of the same family of pistachios or cashews, if you have an allergy to pistachios or cashews, then you should probably avoid mangoes. Additionally, mangoes are also very distant relatives of poison ivy, so some people may be sensitive to them. Some people with latex allergies have also had a cross-reaction to mangoes, so use caution if that’s you.
Mangoes also contain tiny amounts of urushinol, which can trigger dermatitis in those sensitive to it. Lastly, if your kidneys are not fully functional, then too much potassium — remember, mangoes have potassium content — can be dangerous, if not fatal, since the kidneys may struggle with removing excess potassium from the blood.
Also, mangoes are relatively high in calories for a fruit, so don’t gorge on more than one at a time. Instead, have a great dessert finish to a healthy meal, or mix with some protein (like goat milk or coconut milk) for breakfast or some whey protein for a snack.
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