Mad for Mangoes
Demystifying how the king of fruits affects your health
“Nine out of ten love mangoes, and the tenth person is always lying.”
Okay, we made this quote up, but what’s not to love about mangoes? Their brightly coloured flesh, juiciness, sweetness…so much appeal and goodness packed into one fruit!
These tropical fruits originated from the Indian subcontinent, but they’re now enjoyed all over the world in different forms. Slice them; cube them; blend them in smoothies, milkshakes, or lassis; make juices and chutneys; add them to salads; or even grill them — these versatile fruits are definitely summer’s gift to humankind.
Mango season is now upon us, so we’re sure you’re looking forward to gorging on these yummy fruits. But you may have heard or read about some not-so-nice things on the health impacts of mangoes.
Don’t worry — Dr. YOU is here to break down the scientific evidence about how mangoes affect your health.
Breaking Down The Science
Move aside oranges and lemons, because mangoes are great storehouses of vitamin C. One cup of fresh mango pieces (165 grams) helps you meet 67% of your daily vitamin C requirement. This vital vitamin has antioxidant and immune-boosting properties and is also important for skin health and iron absorption.
- 99 calories
- 1.4 grams of protein
- 24.7 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.6 grams of fat
- 2.6 grams of fibre
- 22.5 grams of sugar
- 277 milligrams of potassium
Mangoes are also good sources of copper and folate, important nutrients that support pregnancy. They give you about 20% of your daily copper requirement and 18% of your daily folate requirement.
You may have noticed the high sugar content in mangoes. Fresh mangoes do have a relatively greater sugar content than other fruits. But don’t worry, these are natural sugars, and there’s no scientific evidence that they negatively affect your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes or metabolic disease.
These golden fruits are also packed with polyphenols, which are organic compounds found in plants that have several health benefits. Gallic acid is the most dominant phenol compound in mangoes, and the other compounds include mangiferin, gallotannins, quercetin, isoquercetin, ellagic acid, and β-glucogallin.
Mangiferin is an important bioactive compound found in mangoes. Depending on the variety, it’s found in the tree bark, leaves, roots, seed, peel, and flesh. Mangiferin has been used in traditional medicine like Ayurveda. A lot of research is being done around the compound’s anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-viral properties.
The fleshy part of the mango also contains various carotenoids such as provitamin A, lutein, α-carotene, and β-carotene. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that protect you against several chronic illnesses. Cool fact — carotenoids are also behind the yellow colour of the mango flesh!
Research Says A Lot!
Given that mangoes are rich sources of several beneficial nutrients, evidence suggests that they may improve the functioning of your body and prevent the onset of chronic diseases.
1. Mangoes may have anti-diabetic effects!
The evidence says: Mangiferin, a bioactive compound in mangoes, has been shown to improve diabetes-related outcomes in mice. One study found that after mangiferin treatment in genetically modified mice, blood sugar and triglyceride levels lowered significantly. Research also says that mango leaves may have anti-diabetic effects by reducing the action of two enzymes involved in glucose absorption. But there’s no evidence exploring the anti-diabetic effects of the mango flesh in humans.
2. Mangoes may help your heart!
The evidence says: Mangoes contain heart-healthy nutrients and compounds like magnesium, potassium, and mangiferin. These help regulate your blood pressure and protect your cells from damage. A recent study showed that mangiferin prevented the death of heart cells in genetically modified mice. This in turn prevented heart failure. Another study found that in mice fed with high-fat diets, mangiferin significantly lowered ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. But there were no significant changes in ‘good’ cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
3. Mangoes may have anti-inflammatory impacts!
The evidence says: Inflammation is a culprit behind various illnesses like asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and even diabetes. The organic polyphenols in mangoes are responsible for the fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, rats with ulcerative colitis were given a mango beverage to test whether the polyphenols in mangoes could lower inflammation. In these rats, the expression of proteins involved in inflammation was reduced.
4. Mangoes may help lower your risk of certain cancers!
The evidence says: Recent research has explored the anti-cancer properties of phytochemicals present in mangoes. A review summarized the different complex pathways by which these phytochemicals may exert their anti-breast cancer effects; these include preventing the division of cancer cells, stimulating the death of cancer cells, and regulating the activity of some enzymes involved in cancer progression. Another study showed that extracts from the mango peel resulted in the death of colon cancer cells under laboratory conditions.
So Can YOU Go ‘Mad’ For Mangoes?
Even though research suggests that mangoes have various health benefits, the findings should be interpreted with caution. So before you hail the mango as a superfood, consider the following points:
- Most research related to the health benefits of mangoes has been done in animals in laboratory studies. The fruit’s effects on disease prevention in humans remains unclear.
- The concentration of the bioactive compound mangiferin, the focus of much of the scientific research, is low in the flesh of mangoes and depends on the variety and maturity of the fruit. So, you won’t get the health benefits of this compound by eating only the flesh of the mango.
- Mangiferin is present in higher concentrations in the mango peel and seed. But eating the peel can cause an allergic reaction in some people because of an oily organic allergen urushiol. So if you decide to eat the peel, proceed with caution!
- Mangoes have a higher natural sugar content and lower fibre content compared with other fruits. Overindulging in mangoes may cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. So if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, it’s best to talk to your doctor about how many servings you can consume.
Mangoes are packed with various compounds, like vitamin C, phytochemicals, and potassium, that bring about positive health effects. So it’s alright to enjoy this tropical fruit in moderation and make the most of the summer season!
Pro tips to maximize the health benefits of mangoes:
- Limit your mango indulgence to two cups of chopped mango per day (about 330 grams).
- Pair mangoes with high-fibre and high-protein foods. For example, you can add a chopped mango to Greek yoghurt or oatmeal.
- Dried mangoes pack in more sugar and calories. So go for fresh mangoes whenever possible!
Remember, the only person who can keep YOU the healthiest is YOU.
DISCLAIMER: Dr. YOU aims to bring you the latest evidence-based science, and our content is for informational purposes only. The content is not medical advice or guarantee of an outcome. You should always consult a doctor or qualified healthcare professional if you need further clarification and before making any changes to your treatment plans and lifestyle, or that of others.
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