Written by Nicola Shbrook Nutrition graduate
This tropical fruit is refreshing and delicious, and like most plant foods, it also has great nutritional benefits. Nicola Shbrook, a qualified dietitian, explains it all.
What is mango?
Mangoes (Mangifera indica) are fruits with a tropical core the size of a grapefruit. The color of the skin is yellow, green or red-green, the flesh is soft and yellow, and the fruit has a hard, inedible hole in the middle.
Mangoes are native to Southeast Asia, but are now grown in other countries, including the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
mango nutritional profile
80 grams of fresh mango provides:
- 48 kcal / 200 kJ
- 0.7 g protein
- 0.3 g fat
- 11.2 g carbs
- 1.3 grams of fiber
- 134 mg potassium
- 29 mg Vitamin C
An 80g serving of fresh mango is one of five foods a day. When dried, a portion of 30 g is enough.
Top 5 health benefits of mango
1. Rich in protective antioxidants
Mango is a good source of protective compounds with antioxidant properties. These phytochemicals include galothannins and mangiferin. Both have been studied for their ability to counteract oxidative stress associated with daily living and exposure to toxins.
As with other plant foods, many of these compounds are found in and just below the skin. A 2012 study of mango skin concluded that it may play a role in preventing obesity, thanks to the phytochemicals present in it.
2. May aid in digestion
A pilot study from 2018 showed that people with chronic constipation who ate mangoes over a 4-week period saw a significant improvement in their symptoms, in part due to the fiber content, but likely thanks to other compounds in the fruit as well. Interestingly, the leaves of the mango tree also show potential antidiarrheal activity due to the phytochemicals they contain.
A previous animal study found that the intestinal bacteria of obese mice fed a high-fat diet improved after adding mango to their diet. Studies suggest this may be due to polyphenols, which are protective compounds like gallo-tannin found in the fruit. Mango’s phytochemicals have also been studied for their stomachic effect, providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to the digestive system, and may also help reduce inflammation in conditions such as ulcerative colitis.
3. May help maintain healthy skin and hair
Mango contains reasonable levels of vitamins A and C. Vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen – the protein that acts as a scaffold for the skin, keeping it plump and firm. Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants, playing a protective role against environmental damage; Vitamin C deficiency can affect wound healing and increase fine lines and wrinkles. Our hair also needs vitamin C, both to produce collagen and to facilitate the absorption of iron, an important mineral essential for hair growth.
All cells need vitamin A for their growth, including skin and hair. Some studies suggest that vitamin A may have protective effects against the signs of aging. One of the main roles of vitamin A is its involvement in the production of sebum, the oily substance that moisturizes our skin and scalp.
4. May Support Heart Health
A 2016 animal study suggested that mangerine provides heart-protective benefits, including reducing inflammation. Other animal studies suggest that the same phytochemical may help balance cholesterol.
While these animal studies are encouraging, human trials do not exist and more research is needed to assess whether these benefits replicate in humans.
5. May promote eye health
The orange pulp of mango tells us that it is rich in carotenoids that promote eye health. In particular, they provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that play an important role in the retina, protecting it from sunlight and blue light emitted by digital devices. Lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly useful in combating signs of age-related macular degeneration.
Is mango safe for everyone?
Unless you are allergic, mangoes are generally recognized as safe for most people when they are part of a varied and balanced diet. However, some sensitive people may experience contact dermatitis on contact with the fruit.
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