Mango (Mangifera indica) is one of the most popularly consumed fruits in the world; its sweet, juicy flavor means mangoes are celebrated as both an important culinary ingredient and a food in their own right. Originating in India over 4,000 years ago, mango cultivation has gradually spread across the globe and now Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Israel, and the U.S. are all among the key producers of the fruit. But what benefits does mango offer besides low-fat flavor? Read on to discover the five important health benefits of mango that characterize it as a little-known super food.
1. Natural Digestive Aid
Fiber helps with absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and aids the passing of food through the digestive system. Mango contains large amounts of fiber: the fruit offers nearly two grams of fiber for every 100 grams, so regular consumption of mango promotes the healthy passing of stools and prevents constipation.
2. Body Fat Reduction
Aside from being low fat and only containing around 140 calories per fruit, regular consumption of mango could also actively stimulate the reduction of body fat percentage. Leptin is a hormone that directly regulates both hunger cycles and the amount of fat cells in the bloodstream. Different studies have found that routine mango consumption is correlated to lower levels of leptin in the body, even when the same amounts of calories and fat are consumed but without mango. This can lead to a reduction in body fat over time.
3. Blood Sugar Regulation
Mango can reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol, and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that mango has glucose and cholesterol-lowering properties, which compare to the effectiveness of the commercially used drug rosiglitazone, but without its side effects. This may be due to the high fiber content of mango, which is understood to suppress glucose absorption in the small intestines. It may also have a stimulating effect on the pancreas to promote the production of insulin, the molecule that carries glucose to cells.
4. Vision Protection
Regularly consuming mango is likely to offer protection against age-related sight problems, such as macular degeneration. This is due to the fruit's vitamin A (retinol) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) content, which is greater than that of many other fruits. Vitamins A and C have antioxidant functions in the body, which means they neutralize potentially damaging cells in the bloodstream; vitamin A in particular has been found to nourish and protect vision.
5. Delaying Aging
The regular consumption of mango could protect you from cellular decay, which is the main cause of aging and a number of degenerative diseases. Mango is full of phenolic compounds, including polyphenols, which are absorbed into the small and large intestines, and - along with the antioxidant properties of mango - can protect the body's cells from free radicals damage.
Mango can be easily incorporated into any diet. Serve the fruit fresh and raw as a snack or dessert, use the fruit as an ingredient to add sweetness to rice, or include it as a chutney to accompany meat. As a rule, the riper the mango, the greater its health value; look for the fruits that are firm and free of blemishes. If you are unable to source fresh mango (e.g., if the fruit is not in season), using canned or frozen alternative is tasty and effective substitute.
- Food and Nutrition Research Institute - Philippines, The wonderful mangoes
- Oklahoma State University, NSCI research finds health benefits in mangos
- Michigan State University, Benefits of mango consumption for the body
- Harvard University, Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
- University of Arizona, Mango: Nutritional Handout
- University of Florida, South Florida Tropicals: Mango Factsheet