Viva! Health’s Veronika Prošek Charvátová explores the many health benefits of mango.
Mango trees are native to south and southeast Asia and are considered sacred in India. They are now widely grown across all tropical and some subtropical areas including Africa, Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, California, Hawaii and Spain.
These golden fruits are so delicious, but what are mangos good for? Here we explore the health benefits of mango and show you how to choose the most delicious ones.
1. Rich in antioxidants
Mango fruit is an excellent source of mighty antioxidants, which help to guard our short and long-term health. They protect our tissues and DNA from damage, block some environmental toxins and assist the immune system in keeping us healthy.
Mango antioxidants include mangiferin, catechins, quercetin, kaempferol, anthocyanins, gallic and ellagic acids1.
Some, such as mangiferin, also have cancer-fighting and antimicrobial properties and so help to actively defend our health2.
2. Great for the eyes
Among the plentiful mango antioxidants is also beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A – essential to eye health and vision. And there’s more!
Mango supplies lutein and zeaxanthin – two antioxidants that protect the retina of the eye from sunlight and from the blue light emitted by digital devices3.
Among the plentiful mango antioxidants is also beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A – essential to eye health and vision. Photo © Aaron Amat via Getty Images
3. Vitamin dose
A 100g mango portion provides about 60 per cent of the daily recommended vitamin C dose. This vitamin is important for the immune system, but also for wound healing and collagen formation.
Collagen is a protein crucial for the integrity of your skin and an inherent part of the body’s connective tissue, such as tendons and ligaments.
As well as vitamin C, mango contains vitamin E and beta-carotene and that’s why it’s good for skin health – these vitamins help to keep skin well-nourished and supple4.
A 100g mango portion provides about 60 per cent of the daily recommended vitamin C dose. Photo © Alex Desanshe via Adobe Stock
4. Folate booster
A half of mango provides about 3 6 percent of your recommended daily folate intake, a vitamin needed for brain and nerve function, production of DNA , cell reproduction and red blood cell formation.
Folate is also crucial in foetal development – a mother needs an adequate intake to help prevent neural tube defects in her baby.
5. Improves heart and gut health
Mango offers several nutrients that are important for a healthy heart and blood vessels. While all its antioxidants help to protect blood vessel walls and fight inflammation, mango’s potassium content helps to maintain healthy blood pressure and vitamin K is vital for effective blood clotting5.
On top of all this, mango is also a good fibre source, which keeps gut bacteria well-nourished and your digestive system happy. A healthy gut means better immunity, increased energy levels, and it’s also linked to lower risk of heart disease6.
Mango offers several nutrients that are important for a healthy heart and blood vessels and is also a good source of fibre. Photo © camaralenta via Getty Images
6. Rich in health-promoting enzymes
Fresh mango is rich in health-promoting enzymes, such as catalase, invertase and amylase7. Catalase is an antioxidant enzyme that helps to protect our tissues from the damage caused by ageing, environmental pollution and strenuous physical activity.
Invertase and amylase are necessary for digestion because they break down complex molecules into simpler forms. Your body makes its own invertase and amylase, but when levels are low it may result in digestive issues, so a little top-up from mango can help.
7. Helps to keep you hydrated
Mango is 83% water so while you’re enjoying its sweetness and delicious flavour, it contributes to your fluid intake and so helps to keep your kidneys happy!
8. Mango may help to protect you from cancer
Mango’s powerful antioxidants have anti-cancer properties, mangiferin in particular2.
They are not so strong as to treat cancer or prevent it completely but researchers are exploring how to use mangiferin in the fight against cancer.
Mango is 83% water so while you’re enjoying its sweetness and delicious flavour, it contributes to your fluid intake and so helps to keep your kidneys happy! Photo © Annatamila via Adobe Stock
9. Good for your heart
Not only is mango a great source of antioxidants that protect your blood vessels from damage, it also contains potassium which plays a role in healthy blood pressure and vitamin K responsible for healthy blood clotting.
10. Makes your skin glow
Mango has a whole bunch of nutrients important for healthy skin, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidants.
Vitamin C is important for the formation of collagen – a protein that keeps your skin firm and plump.
11. May protect your brain
The antioxidant mangiferin found in mangos protects the blood vessels in your brain from damage and helps to protect your neurons too8.
Scientists say it may even help to prevent and treat some neurological disorders.
Nutritional info of mangoes
Each 100 grams of fresh mango contains:
- 60 kcal/250 kJ
- 13.5 g natural sugars
- 1.6 g fibre
- 0.4 g fat
- 0.8 g protein
- 60% of recommended vitamin C intake
- 22% of recommended vitamin A intake
- 11% of recommended folate intake
- 5 % of recommended vitamin E intake
- 5% of recommended vitamin K intake
- 5% of recommended potassium intake
- Small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6
Each 100 grams of fresh mango contains a whopping 60% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Photo © jc_studio via Adobe Stock
Is mango high in sugar?
Mango is a very sweet fruit, but that doesn’t mean it has too much sugar – not at all! It does contain natural sugar, but also fibre and this slows down sugar absorption, so mango releases its energy gradually. It can fuel your day the healthy way!
Unsweetened, dried mango retains many nutrients, but not all. Its antioxidant content declines, as well as beta-carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin E – how much depends on the temperature used in the process of drying.
Perhaps surprisingly, its vitamin C decreases only a little and its vitamin K content is even higher than in fresh mango. The best choice is sun-dried mango because it hasn’t been exposed to excessive heat and has the best nutritional value.
When it comes to sweetened dried mango, it’s a different story. The product is so saturated with sugar that it loses any health benefits and all you’ll get from it is a sugar rush.
Dried mango is so saturated with sugar that it loses any health benefits and all you'll get from it is a sugar rush. Photo © Brent Hofacker via Adobe Stock
How to choose the best mango
When deciding which mango to buy, gently squeeze it – if it gives a little under your fingers, it’s ripe and ready to eat. If it’s rock-hard, it’s unripe and when you take it home, it may not fully ripen so it can be a waste of money.
If it’s somewhere in between, it may take a while, but it will ripen at home, especially if you place it in the sun, together with other fruits. Colour is not the best indicator as mangos come in many varieties – always judge by feel.
Are mangos sustainable and ethical?
Mangoes only grow in tropical and some subtropical regions so buying them in Europe usually means paying for the long-distance transport – the only exception being Spanish mangoes.
Always check the origin of the fruit you’re buying as it follows that Spanish mangoes have a lower carbon footprint than fruits from Brazil, for example.
There have also been concerns raised about workers in some countries not being paid living wages and the questionable use of fertilizers. That doesn’t mean we should stay away from this fruit, but it’s best to buy organic and Fair Trade mangoes when possible.
Spanish mangoes have a lower carbon footprint than fruits from subtropical regions for consumers purchasing them in Europe. Photo © Valentyn Volkov via Getty Images
How to enjoy mango
This nutritious fruit is also versatile in how you can use it. Once you’ve found your perfect mango, simply peel and cut it and enjoy the sweet, golden pulp.
Alternatively, you can blend it with other fruits and veggies to make a smoothie or dice it into a fruit or vegetable salad – it goes great with both.
You can top your morning cereal with it, finely dice it into salsa, put it on waffles and pancakes, use it in desserts, grill slices at a barbecue or blend it with frozen bananas to make mango ice cream.
Mango isn’t the only food loaded with goodness – find out more about the health benefits of seaweed.
Featured image © AtlasStudio via Getty Images
Lenucci MS, Tornese R, Mita G, Durante M. (2022) Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activities in Different Fractions of Mango Fruits (Mangifera indica L., Cultivar Tommy Atkins and Keitt). Antioxidants (Basel). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8944460/
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Lauricella M, Emanuele S, Calvaruso G, Giuliano M, D’Anneo A. (2017) Multifaceted Health Benefits of Mangifera indica L. (Mango): The Inestimable Value of Orchards Recently Planted in Sicilian Rural Areas. Nutrients. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452255/
Walia V, Chaudhary SK, Kumar Sethiya N, 2021. Therapeutic potential of mangiferin in the treatment of various neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Neurochemistry International. 143:104939.