Mangoes (Mangifera indica) are tropical fruits, also known as stone fruits due to their composition. It is made up of an outer skin covering the edible yellow portion of the fruit surrounding a stone with one seed, hence the name stone fruit. It was originally grown in India more than 5000 years ago but human migration resulted in the seeds being distributed to other places such as the Middle East, East Africa and South America around 300-400 AD. However, it was only introduced in US Florida in 1833.1 The diversity in climates and conditions that the mangoes are exposed to when growing result in hundreds of different types of mangoes, all with unique tastes, shapes, sizes and colours. In some places, mangoes are known as the ‘king of fruits', both for their deliciousness and several health benefits.2 In addition, one cup of pieces of mangoes (165 g) contains 99 calories, making it a perfect fruit for those who want to reduce their calorie intake.
Health benefits of mango
High levels of Antioxidants
Mangoes contain mangiferin, gallic acid, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), beta-carotene (Vitamin A precursor), and Selenium, which have antioxidant properties.1,3 These plant chemicals are very efficient at reducing the oxidative stress that we accumulate daily from exposure to different toxins.
Healthy hair and skin
Vitamin C and A in mangoes, contribute to the growth and development of healthy hair and skin. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties and is a key component in the formation of collagen ensuring that both the skin and hair are kept to a healthy standard. Collagen is used by the skin to maintain its high level of elasticity, plumpness and firmness. Vitamin C deficiency has also been linked to slower and less effective wound healing increasing wrinkles in the long run.4 Similarly, vitamin A has been studied to have protective properties in reducing the effects of ageing. In addition, vitamin C also contributes to the formation of hair and helps with the absorption of iron, a crucial mineral used in hair growth. Vitamin A also plays an important role in sebum production contributing to the moisturisation of both our skin and scalp.5
Improves eye health
The edible portion of mangoes have generally an orange or yellow colour due to its high levels of carotenoids. Similar to carrots, carotenoids are very important in maintaining a healthy eye. This is due to the presence of the carotenoids; lutein and zeaxanthin which contribute to protecting the retina of the eye from direct sunlight and blue light released from screens. Moreover, these two carotenoids have also been studied in preventing Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is an eye disease that is more prevalent with age.6 AMD occurs when there is damage to the macula, an important part of the retina that is light-sensitive and helps with controlling sharp and straight-ahead vision.
Vitamin A deficiency can also cause dry eyes and nighttime blindness, therefore consuming mangoes can replenish vitamin A levels improving eye health.
Prevents diabetes and obesity
There have been many studies that have linked the consumption of fresh fruits with an overall lower risk of diabetes, but no study has focused on mangoes specifically yet. However, there was a study that linked frozen dried mango with significantly improving blood sugar levels.7 In addition, the high levels of carotenoids and vitamin C in mangoes also contribute to the prevention of diabetes. The mango peel also contains certain plant chemicals which play a big role in the prevention of obesity.8 In general, mango peels are safe to eat, however, they may taste a bit raw if uncooked.
Improves heart health and reduces the risk of cancer
Mangoes are rich in mangiferin, a plant chemical that helps protect the heart by balancing cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation, oxidative stress and cell death.2,9 However, more studies are needed on mangiferin and overall heart health. Furthermore, mangoes also contain a generous amount of magnesium and potassium that promote healthy blood flow and the lowering of blood pressure.
Polyphenols contain anticancer properties due to their role in protecting against oxidative stress which has been linked to contributing to many types of cancers.2
Mangoes are rich in fibre and have other plant compounds that have proved to have antidiarrheal properties and can help with chronic constipation. In addition, mangoes contain polyphenols, a type of phytochemical with numerous health benefits. This phytochemical has gastroprotective properties on the digestive system providing both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.2
Mangoes have digestive enzymes called amylases that are responsible for breaking down food and complex carbs into sugars: glucose and maltose. This allows the body to absorb them easily. The riper the mango, the more active the enzyme amylase is explaining why ripe mangoes generally tend to be sweeter.3
Nutrients we can get from mango
The health benefits found in mangoes are due to the many nutrients present. Below are some of the nutrients found in mangoes and their important role in the body.
- Vitamin C
Mangoes are very high in vitamin C which boosts the immune system, helps with the absorption of iron and contributes to the growth and repair of cells.4
- Vitamin A
Similar to vitamin C, vitamin A also contributes to improving hair and skin health. It is especially good for the eyes and can help reduce nighttime blindness and sharpen vision.5
- Vitamin B
Niacin, Riboflavin and Thiamine are all Vitamin B nutrients found in mangoes that help in maintaining the nervous and digestive system and keeping the skin healthy.
- Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps with the regulation of blood sugar levels and contributes to improving immune function and cognitive development.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E supports the immune system, playing an important role in ensuring it works properly. Vitamin E also prevents blood clotting and has antioxidant properties.
- Vitamin K
Vitamin K is important for improving bone health and contributes to making proteins that are used for blood clotting.
These are essential minerals, especially for pregnant mothers, as they help ensure that the foetus grows healthy and develops properly.2,10
Ways to include mangoes in our diet
In addition to all the health benefits that mangoes possess, they are very diverse and versatile meaning that they can be incorporated into our diets in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:
- Fresh mango on its own is delicious and can be eaten between meals as a healthy snack. Mango also goes very well with other tropical fruits like papaya, orange, and bananas. Therefore, it can be served as a fruit salad or a fruit platter.
- Mango smoothies and juices are excellent refreshments to enjoy especially on a hot summer day. They contain all the nutrients and vitamins in mangoes and are easier to consume on the go.
- Mango salsa is another great way of eating mangoes, especially when eating it with other Mexican foods such as tacos, burritos, and cajun chicken. It also tastes excellent with grilled meat, shrimp and fish giving it a sweet touch.
- Mangoes can be incorporated into summer or quinoa salads giving it a sweet cool taste especially when mixed with other vegetables and fruits like cucumbers and avocados.
How much is enough?
Mangoes tend to be naturally sweet fruits and contain high levels of sugar. It is best to consume an average of 2 slices (5cm slices) of mango a day and to combine it with 3 to 5 other fruits to achieve 5 a day. In addition, due to the high sugar content, diabetic people should not overly consume mango smoothies, juices and desserts.
Mangoes are generally safe foods to consume by the majority of people. However, some people with high levels of sensitivity can experience dermatitis when touching mangoes. In some circumstances, though very rare, some people may experience allergic reactions such as mouth swelling, itching or breathing issues after eating mangoes.
There are a variety of mangoes, all grown in tropical and warm climates. All the different varieties have essential nutrients that can give you a wide variety of health benefits. Especially, Vitamins A and C are found in high concentrations in mangoes and provide the most health benefits ranging from boosting the immune system to maintaining healthy hair and skin. Another benefit of mangoes is that they are diverse fruits and can be incorporated into the diet in different ways. Many people enjoy eating fresh mangoes on their own, but there are other ways of consuming them such as incorporating them into salsas, salads, smoothies, and many more. In general, mangoes are safe to eat but they possess a high sugar content so it is important to always eat them in moderation especially if you have diabetes and have other medical conditions. Furthermore, it is important to be aware that some people experience allergic reactions upon touching or consuming mangoes.
- Malo E. Mango culture in florida. Acta Hortic. 1972 Mar;(24):149–54. Available from: https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1972.24.27
- Ribeiro SMR, Schieber A. Bioactive compounds in mango(Mangifera indica L.). In: Bioactive Foods in Promoting Health. Elsevier; 2010. p. 507–23. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/B9780123746283000347
- Shah K, Patel M, Patel R, Parmar P. Mangifera indica(Mango). Phcog Rev. 2010;4(7):42. Available from: http://www.phcogrev.com/article/2010/4/7/1041030973-784765325
- Pullar J, Carr A, Vissers M. The roles of vitamin c in skin health. Nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8):866. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/8/866
- VanBuren CA, Everts HB. Vitamin a in skin and hair: an update. Nutrients. 2022 Jul 19;14(14):2952. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/14/2952
- Lutein + zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related macular degeneration: the age-related eye disease study 2 (Areds2) randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2013 May 15;309(19):2005. Available from: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jama.2013.4997
- Evans SF, Meister M, Mahmood M, Eldoumi H, Peterson S, Perkins-Veazie P, et al. Mango supplementation improves blood glucose in obese individuals. Nutr Metab Insights. 2014 Jan;7:NMI.S17028. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.4137/NMI.S17028
- Taing MW, Pierson JT, Hoang VLT, Shaw PN, Dietzgen RG, Gidley MJ, et al. Mango fruit peel and flesh extracts affect adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells. Food Funct. 2012;3(8):828. Available from: http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=c2fo30073g
- Imran M, Arshad MS, Butt MS, Kwon JH, Arshad MU, Sultan MT. Mangiferin: a natural miracle bioactive compound against lifestyle related disorders. Lipids Health Dis. 2017 Dec;16(1):84. Available from: http://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12944-017-0449-y
- Wilson RL, Bianco-Miotto T, Leemaqz SY, Grzeskowiak LE, Dekker GA, Roberts CT. Early pregnancy maternal trace mineral status and the association with adverse pregnancy outcome in a cohort of Australian women. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2018 Mar;46:103–9. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0946672X17307939