What do you think is the most widely consumed fruit in the world? Most would say it's apple or banana, but actually it seems to be… mango! Seemingly exotic to us, in India and Southeast Asia mangoes are a diet staple – green or ripe, they are cooked in a myriad ways. But cooked or raw, mango is packed with health benefits!
Fill up on vitaminsFirst and foremost, one mango will satisfy all your daily need of vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant. Though the traditional belief that vitamin C can cure cold is not supported by research, it has far more important benefits. As all antioxidants, it helps fight aging; plus, recent studies have shown that it prevents plaque from building up inside blood vessels – and thus, atherosclerosis. It may even prevent cancer by decreasing the damage to the DNA inside cells! Other great sources of vitamin C are bell peppers, qiwis, cauliflower, and oranges. Next, the same one mango will give you 30-40% of your daily dose of vitamin A. Another anti-oxidant, it has long been known to preserve eye health, especially in old age. It will also keep your skin young. Note that vitamin A comes in two forms: one, called retinol, is found in meat, milk, and eggs, and is readily absorbed by the body, while the second, beta-carotene, is found in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables and is transformed into retinol by your body. Apart from mangoes, beta-carotene is found in carrots, apricots, pumpkin, and papaya. Finally, that juicy mango will provide you with 20% of vitamin B9, or folate, that you need every day. Folate plays a great role in blood cell formation and in replication of DNA. Women with B9 deficiency have a higher risk of producing children with birth defects. Further, folate and other B vitamins seem to prevent coronary heart disease. For other great sources of B9, look to beans, lentils, and spinach.
Stock up on fiberLike all fruit and vegetables, mango is a good source of dietary fiber. As you will know if your regularly read articles on our website, fiber is essential for good digestion and prevents constipation. The recommended daily dose of fiber is 25g for women and 40g for men; unfortunately, most people don’t consume as much. One mango contains 4-5 grams of fiber, while the best fiber sources around – beans, peas and lentils – contain circa three times more. Mango originates in India, where it was cultivated as far as 5000 years ago. No wonder that Asian cuisine uses both green and ripe mangoes in curries, chutneys, sauces, pickles, and salads. In fact, a spicy mango and chilli salad is one of signature dishes of Thai cuisine. Ripe mangoes can be yellow, red or green; to test its ripeness at the store, push it gently with your thumb – it should give in just a little bit. Unripe mangoes can be ripened at room temperature (however, there are many delicious recipes with green ones, too!).
Keep in mind that mangoes, while delicious and rich in nutrients, contain about 65 calories per 100g, and almost all those calories come from fructose. So, as with all sweet fruit, don’t overdo it! And in case mangoes are too expensive where you live, remember you can get all the same nutrients from other plant foods. Make sure to include not only fruit, but also lots of vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in your diet, and you won’t have to take vitamin and mineral supplements.