Just the taste of mango 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? Not only that, but mango is also a great high-fiber food and high-antioxidant food as well.
It’s no wonder, then, that the this summer fruit 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 and even the pit — has been used as a health remedy in one form or another, but before diving headlong in to all things “mango nutrition,” here’s more of a backdrop on the sweet and delicious mango.
What Are Mangos?
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. It is actually considered a drupe or stone fruit, meaning it has a characteristic outer fleshy part surrounding a shell (pit or stone) with a seed inside.
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 subtropics.
Mangos 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 mangos to the people of Africa and Brazil.
In India, giving someone a basket of mangos is considered an act of friendship.
Mangos have long been used in traditional forms of medicine thanks to their healing properties and the extensive mango benefits that this stone fruit has to offer as well. In Ayurvedic medicine, the mango is believed to be very nourishing and thought to help promote proper elimination, soothe the throat and increase fluids in the body by creating moisture.
Meanwhile, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, mangos are used to strengthen digestion, build up bodily fluids and ease coughing. Mangos are also thought to increase the body’s inner heat, which can improve circulation and nourish qi, which is the vital energy of the organs.
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 subtropical areas. It originated between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago in what is now present-day eastern India, Pakistan and Burma.
Prior to the fruit’s 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 mangos — with over 1,000 varieties of mangos available — although China, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand cultivate mangos as well. In the U.S., Florida is the chief producer of mangos.
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 mangos 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.
Belonging to the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae and going by the scientific name Mangifera indica L., mangos are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Each serving is also relatively low in mango calories, making it an incredibly healthy and nutrient-dense food.
A one-cup serving of raw mango (about 165 grams) contains approximately:
- Calories: 99
- Total Carbohydrates: 24.8 g
- Fiber: 2.6 g
- Sugar: 22.6 g
- Total Fat: 0.6 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Protein: 1.4 g
- Sodium: 1.7 mg
- Vitamin C: 60.1 mg (67% DV)
- Vitamin A: 1,780 IU (49% DV)
- Copper: 0.2 mg (20% DV)
- Folate: 71 mcg (18% DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (12% DV)
- Vitamin E: 1.5 mg (10% DV)
- Vitamin K: 6.9 mcg (6% DV)
- Potassium: 277 mg (6% DV)
- Riboflavin: 0.1 mg (5% DV)
*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.
In addition to the nutrients listed above, the mango nutrition profile also contains a small amount of niacin, magnesium and pantothenic acid — as well as powerful antioxidants like zeaxanthin, quercetin, astragalin and beta-carotene.
1. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Rich in fiber plus an array of power-packed antioxidants, adding mango to your diet can have a big impact on blood sugar levels. For example, one study out of Oklahoma actually found that supplementing with mango for 12 weeks significantly reduced blood sugar levels in obese adults.
In addition, research in 2020 revealed:
Mangos help maintain stable blood glucose and insulin levels post-consumption which in part correlates with increases of adiponectin levels. These results suggest mangos are a beneficial snack for those looking to lose weight or have a medical condition in which stabilizing postprandial glycemic response is critical. Future research on the long-term effects of mango consumption on satiety hormone levels and glucose response is warranted.
The fiber in mangos may also help promote normal blood sugar levels. Fiber passes through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, slowing the absorption of sugar in the process.
2. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure
Sometimes called “the silent killer,” high blood pressure places extra strain on the heart, forcing it to work harder to pump blood throughout the body so it can continue to work efficiently.
Mangos are rich in potassium, which is absolutely vital when it comes to regulating blood pressure. Plus, they’re also naturally low in sodium, a micronutrient that should be limited in those with high blood pressure.
Research conducted in Canada found that mango consumption in overweight and obese individuals led to a 3.5 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure after eight weeks.
3. Boosts Brain Health
Considered one of the best brain foods, mango nutrition is packed with vitamin B6, which is essential for maintaining brain function. In fact, some research suggests that a deficiency in this key vitamin could contribute to impaired cognitive function and neurological decline.
Animal models have even shown that mango extract can help improve memory impairment and oxidative stress damage consistent with mild cognitive impairment.
4. May Protect Against Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a common condition that causes destruction of the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision. It can lead to night blindness, blurry, distorted vision and even blindness.
In addition to the wealth of vitamins and minerals supplied by the mango nutrition profile, this powerful fruit also contains the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin works to filter out harmful blue light rays, thereby playing a protective role in eye health as well as possibly preventing macular degeneration symptoms.
Studies show that increasing your intake of key antioxidants like zeaxanthin can help increase macular pigment density to preserve vision and prevent macular degeneration.
5. Supports Strong Bones
Interestingly enough, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually found that a vitamin K deficiency may be associated with lower bone density and an increased risk of fractures.
6. Helps Optimize Heart Health
Heart disease is a major problem in the United States and around the world. Fortunately, switching up your diet and adding more nutrient-rich foods like mango to your menu may help optimize heart health to protect against heart disease.
Mangos contain high amounts of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that can help naturally lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Combined with the low sodium levels as well as high amounts of potassium and B vitamins, mango nutrition may help keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease.
7. Combats Cancer Cell Growth
As previously mentioned, mangos are high in pectin. Pectin not only helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood, but may also guard against prostate cancer, according to some in vitro studies.
A compound within pectin combines with galectin-3, a protein that plays a role in inflammation and cancer progression. Additionally, high dietary intakes of vitamin C and beta-carotene, an antioxidant found within the mango, have also been linked to increased survival rates in men with prostate cancer.
Plus, one in vitro study conducted by the University of Queensland even found that extracts of mango flesh and peels were effective at blocking the growth of breast cancer cells as well. Although research is still in the early stages, this suggests that mangos may be a helpful part of natural cancer treatment protocol.
8. Slows Signs of Aging
Mangos are jam-packed with several anti-aging nutrients that can help slow the signs of aging to keep you looking youthful for as long as possible.
They’re also loaded with vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage and boosts the production of collagen. Collagen is a type of protein that can slow signs of aging by reducing joint pain and preserving skin elasticity.
A 2020 randomized, clinical pilot study evaluated the effects of mango fruit intake on facial wrinkles and erythema in postmenopausal women. After 16 weeks, researchers concluded that the “results from this pilot study support the concept that regular intake of modest amounts of mangos may improve facial wrinkles.”
9. Helps Increase Immune Function
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against unwanted invaders and has everything to do with keeping you healthy and feeling your best. Squeezing in plenty of vitamin C, mangos can help support a healthy immune system to ward off illness and infection.
A study in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism actually found that getting enough vitamin C in your diet could help reduce the duration and severity of respiratory infections like the common cold, plus decrease the incidence of other conditions, such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea infections.
10. May Improve Digestive Health
With nearly three grams of fiber in a single cup of fresh mango nutrition, adding this nutritious fruit to your daily diet can do wonders when it comes to the health of your digestive tract. Fiber can help add bulk to the stool to increase stool frequency in people with constipation.
High-fiber foods like the mango may also help protect against other gastrointestinal conditions, including hemorrhoids, GERD, intestinal ulcers and diverticulitis.
A 2023 randomized, controlled trial published in Food Science & Nutrition examined the effects of fresh mango consumption on gut health and the microbiome. Twenty-seven participants consumed 100 calories per day of either mangos or low-fat cookies in a 12-week crossover design study with a four-week washout period.
The mango group saw increases in healthy bacteria in the microbiome and a slight increase in bowel movements. Ultimately, the researchers found that “it can be concluded that consumption of mango may have positive effects on the gut health, which may yield possible health benefits for chronic disease that deserve further study.”
11. May Protect Against Asthma
As you may recall from the mango nutrition lineup, mangos are chock-full of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Due to this, the fruit could potentially 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. This leads to difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or even death.
Studies show that levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene may be lower in children with asthma. Although it’s unclear exactly what role these essential nutrients may play, these findings indicate that they may have some impact on allergic diseases, such as asthma.
Mango vs. Papaya
The mango and papaya are two types of tropical fruit — like cherimoya and pineapple guava — that have garnered a good amount of popularity for their delicious taste and versatility. Both are sweet, fleshy and loaded with an impressive array of important nutrients.
That said, there are several notable differences between these two fruits. For starters, they each belong to a different family of plants.
Mangos are native to South Asia, whereas papayas are thought to originate in the tropical regions of the Americas. In terms of appearance, the papaya is more oblong and has several seeds inside while the mango houses a single pit.
When it comes to nutrition, both are considered incredibly nutrient-rich ingredients. In a single cup, papaya packs in more vitamin C, vitamin A and folate, but the same amount of mango is higher in fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
How to Use (Recipes)
There are a number of different types of mangos out there, which have slight differences in taste and appearance. Although there may also be some minute distinctions between Kent mango nutrition vs. Alphonso mango nutrition, honey mango nutrition (also known as Ataulfo mango) and Kesar mango nutrition, they can all be used in similar ways and are brimming with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs.
When selecting your mangos, 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 is the easiest way to select a ripe mango that is ready to be enjoyed.
If your mangos are still a bit unripened, place them in a paper bag in a warm place, which will help them ripen within two days. However, you can also choose to keep unripened mangos at room temperature, which will take them about a week to ripen. Storage in the refrigerator, however, will make them last for somewhere around two weeks.
Wondering how to eat a mango to take advantage of the many mango benefits that this tasty fruit has to offer? There are so many ways to enjoy mangos, 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 even jazz it up to create a savory salsa with mango, papaya, jalapeño, chipotle pepper and cayenne pepper and pair it with healthy dipping chips or use it to top off your favorite type of tacos.
There are plenty of options for how to eat a mango and a number of tasty mango recipes to choose from. Here are a few delicious and nutritious ideas to help get you started:
- Mango Walnut Spinach Salad
- Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce
- Tropical Acai Bowl
- Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Mango Coconut Ice Cream
You can also make or buy mango butter to support skin and hair health.
Risks and Side Effects
Although there are plenty of benefits of mango, there are some downsides that need to be considered as well.
Since mangos are of the same family as pistachios or cashews, if you have an allergy to these nuts, then you should probably avoid mangos. Additionally, mangos 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 mangos, so use caution and be sure to address any concerns with your doctor.
Many people also wonder: Can you eat mango skin? Mangos and their peels contain tiny amounts of urushiol, which can trigger dermatitis in those sensitive to it and may also cause food allergy symptoms like itching, burning and swelling of the skin, so it’s best to avoid the skin whenever possible.
Finally, keep in mind that there are a relatively high amount of calories in mango compared to other fruits, 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 enjoy alongside some whey protein for a snack.
- The mango is a delicious tropical fruit that is native to South Asia and enjoyed for its sweet flavor and extensive nutrient profile.
- Each serving of fresh fruit contains a relatively low amount of mango calories, plus plenty of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B6.
- What are the benefits of eating mango? Thanks to its impressive nutritional content, potential mango nutritional benefits include lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improved heart and brain health, increased immune function, decreased signs of aging, better digestive health, and more.
- You can eat mangos as is for a guilt-free sweet treat or try adding them to smoothies, fruit salads, savory salsas or even tacos.
- Enjoy this tasty stone fruit as part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet to maximize the potential benefits and help improve your overall health.