My fondest memory of summer vacation is eating from a bucket full of mangoes soaked in water, eating with my bare hands on the rooftop with my siblings and cousins.
Yes, that’s mango, aam, mangot, manga, mangou, or as they’re known best in India, “king of fruits.”
Mangoes belong to the genus Mangifera indica (MI), consisting of about 30 species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae.
Mango fruit is native to southern Asia, especially Burma and eastern India.
Mango is the national fruit of India and the Philippines and the national tree of Bangladesh.
By production, mango is the world’s fifth-largest fruit crop behind bananas, grapes, apples, and oranges. It is one of the most important and widely cultivated fruits of the tropical world.
Mangoes vary in color, shape, flavor, and seed size. Although the outer skin can be green, red, yellow, or orange, the inner flesh is usually golden yellow.
Mango has been an essential herb in Ayurveda. Ripe sweet mango is said to balance the three doshas and act as an energizer.
Mango is a sweet fruit with high natural sugar levels, and there are many myths about its sugar content and health benefits.
In this article, we will discuss mango and its impact on health.
- Mango Nutritional Value
- Mango Health Benefits
- Mango Varieties in India
- Mango Glycemic Index
Mango Nutritional Value
Mango is low in calories, cholesterol-free, high in fiber, and a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, A, E, and K, and a range of B vitamins. It also contains many polyphenolic compounds1<https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Mangos%2C_raw_nutritional_value.htm>2<https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/786699/nutrients>
The polyphenolic compounds in mango work mainly as antioxidants. This property enables them to protect human cells against oxidative stress, DNA damage, and many degenerative diseases.
Mangiferin is a xanthone, and xanthones are thought to be more potent than both vitamin C and vitamin E and are sometimes unofficially referred to as “super antioxidants.”
Mangiferin has antiviral, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and gene-regulatory effects on our bodies3<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22303941/ >4<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22310181/>
Flavonoids were thought to be vitamins and were given such names as vitamin P and vitamin C2. They are the most abundant polyphenols in our diet.
Quercetin is the main flavonoid in mango. It is mainly responsible for the color of fruits and flowers but also works as an antioxidant.
Quercetin exhibits anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine effects and prevents oxidative damage to the body.5<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18393431/ >6<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27030627/> 7<https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/xanthone>
Health Benefits of Mango
High in Antioxidants
The polyphenolic compounds in mango exhibit high antioxidative activity that protects the body against damage linked to oxidative stress.
Mango has about a dozen types of these compounds, including mangiferin, catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, benzoic acid, etc.
Mango is unique as the pulp, peel, seed, bark, leaves, flowers—the entire tree—is an excellent antioxidant source. 8<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2008.00047.x>9<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6523795/>
Mango contains magnesium and potassium, promoting lower blood pressure and arterial function, reducing heart disease risk.
Increasing potassium and decreasing sodium in the diet are among the most important dietary changes people can make to reduce high blood pressure risk.10<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833247/>
Mango’s unique antioxidant mangiferin may lower blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and free fatty acid levels. 11<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32119962/>12<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16697266/>
Mango has two antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin, that help support healthy eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the eye’s retina and act as a natural sunblock, absorbing excess light and protecting the eyes from harmful blue light. 13<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708350/>14<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698938/>
Mango is also a good source of vitamin A. One cup of mangoes provides 10% of the daily required amount. Deficiency of vitamin A can lead to dry eyes and night blindness.15<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25194611/>
Mangiferin has recently gained attention for its anti-cancer effects.
A few animal studies found that mango polyphenols may reduce oxidative stress and stop the growth of or destroy various cancer cells, including cells of leukemia and cancers of the colon, lung, prostate, and breast. 16<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15796157/>
The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that the high beta-carotene content in mango can help protect against skin cancer17<https://www.skincancer.org/blog/can-your-diet-help-prevent-skin-cancer/>18<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826946/>
A 2014 study from Japan found that carotenoid-containing fruits and vegetables such as mangoes may reduce colon cancer risk.19<https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10147-013-0520-2>
Studies also suggest that the flavonols, quercetin, and kaempferol in mango can reduce the risk of cancer.20<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15796157/>
A study found that adding mangoes to the diet may decrease fasting blood glucose levels in people with obesity.
Mangiferin, present in the seeds, peel, and pulp of the mango, is a xanthone with a high antioxidative activity that may contribute to mango’s beneficial effects on blood glucose.21<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15740886/>
Mango is a good source of immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin A, which may help fight infections, and vitamin C, producing more disease-fighting white blood cells and improving skin and hair quality.
Mango also contains folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, and several B vitamins, all of which help build immunity22<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249901/>23<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6807195/>
And for those working out, bodybuilding, or doing HIIT training, eating mango is a great way to replenish lost potassium from the body.
Mango Varieties in India
India is the world’s highest mango producer and home to more than 1000 varieties of mango. Each has a unique taste, flavor, and ripening time.
The important mango varieties cultivated in different states of India are:
Andhra Pradesh – Banganapalli, Suvarnarekha, Neelum, and Totapuri
Bihar – Bombay Green, Chausa, Dashehari, Fazli, Gulabkhas, Kishen Bhog, Himsagar, Zardalu
Gujarat – Kesar, Alphonso, Rajapuri, Jamadar, Totapuri, Neelum, Dashehari, Langra
Haryana – Chausa, Dashehari, Langra, Fazli
Himachal Pradesh – Chausa, Dashehari, Langra
Karnataka – Alphonso, Totapuri, Banganapalli, Pairi, Neelum, Mulgoa
Madhya Pradesh – Alphonso, Bombay Green, Dashehari, Fazli, Langra, Neelum
Maharashtra – Alphonso, Kesar, Pairi
Punjab – -Chausa, Dashehari, Malda
Rajasthan – Bombay Green, Chausa, Dashehari, Langra
Tamil Nadu – Alphonso, Totapuri, Banganapalli, and Neelum
Uttar Pradesh – Bombay Green, Chausa, Dashehari and Langra
West Bengal – Fazli, Gulabkhas, Himsagar, Kishen Bhog, Langra, Bombay Green
Raw mangoes are used for preparing pickles, murabba, chutney, panna (sherbet), squash, and amchur (dry mango powder).
Indian mangoes are exported worldwide; the most popular ones are Alphonso (Hapus), Totapuri, Kesar, Badami, Green mango, Rajapuri, and Banganapalli (Safeda).
Mango Glycemic Index
A Glycemic index is a number designed to help people control their blood sugar levels.
GI gives an idea of how fast the body converts the carbohydrates in food into glucose.
Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100.
The lower a food’s glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food, and low GI foods tend to help keep weight in check.
But the glycemic index doesn’t tell you how high your blood sugar will rise after consuming food.24< https://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/patient-resources/glycemic-index-food-guide.pdf>
To know a food’s actual effect on blood sugar, we need to understand how quickly glucose from that food enters the bloodstream and how much glucose it can distribute per serving.
A different measure called the glycemic load gives a more accurate picture of how food items impact blood sugar. A scale of 10 or less is low, 11 – 19 is medium, and 20 or more is high.
Mangoes have a glycemic index of 51 – 56, which is low, and a glycemic load of 18.9, which is the upper end of the medium GL range.25<https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-lowdown-on-glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load>
Mango is a delicious, readily available, low-priced fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and can provide many health benefits.
But yes, it contains more sugar than most fruits; one should enjoy mangoes in moderation, watching calorie intake and following a doctor’s advice.
What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
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