The author Eve Babitz once said “I don’t ever think I‘ll get enough mangoes in my life, eating one in the hot rain is one of the more perfect divine interventions. Mangoes will make you forget anything but mangoes.”
The rest of the world is catching on. We are eating more mangoes than ever before – in fact, the global production of mangoes has doubled in the last 20 years. Where once it was seen as an exotic luxury, now you can pick them up in pretty much any supermarket in the UK.
This is a good thing, because mangoes are great. Need us to convince you? Just read on for everything you need to know about a mango.
Mangoes have been around for about 5,000 years, originating from the Hindo-Berma region (modern-day eastern India to you and me, and stretching across Southeast Asia). When the spice trade between the east and west took off in the fifteenth century, mangoes were slowly brought over to the west. Portugal was the first country to establish a mango trade.
They need a tropical climate in which to grow, so they thrived when they were taken to South America by the Spanish in the 17th century – these days countries like Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico are major mango producers, even if the majority still come from Asia (India is overwhelmingly the biggest mango producer in the world).
Mangoes are a symbol of love and friendship in India, even at a corporate level. It’s not uncommon for businesses to send a basket of mangoes to their clients or customers as a sign of goodwill, and in Pakistan they play a central role in major celebrations – during Eid households will exchange baskets of mangoes.
When the Pakistan Foreign Minister Mian Arshad Hussain visited China in 1968, he presented Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist Party chairman, with a box of mangoes. This had a huge impact on Chinese society. When Mao re-gifted them by sending one each to factories in Shanghai, they took on an almost mythical status. The mangoes were preserved in wax or formaldehyde and displayed like trophies. These mangoes ended up touring the country, taking part in rituals. Workers would bow to them. At one point a riot broke out over possession of a photocopied photo of a mango!
There is something special about this fruit.
One of the main reasons that mangoes have become a lot more popular, is that we are discovering precisely how good they are for us, and all the various ways that we benefit from having mango in our diet. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Mangoes are packed full of vitamins, including vitamin A. All of our cells need vitamin A for growth, including hair and skin. A study in 2015 looked at the relationship between diet and skin health, and concluded that a vitamin A deficiency could cause “hyperkeratinization, sparse and fragile hair, phyrnoderma, herpes, wound healing, acne and photoaging.” Yikes!
There are also people that suggest using mango as a face mask to improve your skin… There are some ‘recipe’ ideas here.
Mangoes can help your heart in a few different ways. First, they contain both potassium and magnesium – both of these help regulate healthy blood flow by helping our blood vessels relax, which in turn will reduce blood pressure.
On top of that, mangoes also contain a polyphenol called mangiferin, which was shown in a 2018 study to “decrease vascular injury” in mice. The implication is that by eating mangoes, we can help protect our hearts in the long term.
If it feels like we highlight the importance of gut health in every blog we ever publish, that’s probably because we do. And I still don’t think we talk about it enough.
Gut health is absolutely critical to so much, from our ability to fend off illness to our mental health. Mangoes contain fibre, digestive enzymes (amylases), plenty of water and phytochemicals that all contribute to better gut health – they are an important part of a gut-friendly diet.
On top of the vitamin A that is present in a mango, which we know is good for eye health, you will also find carotenoids (guess what vegetable also contains this handy little pigment…).
Well, on top of reducing the risk of disease and some cancers, carotenoids also help protect our eyes, especially from damage caused by blue light. As we are all looking at more screens, we need to make sure we are looking after our eyes – eating mango is a great way to do that.
Finally, you’ll find plenty of antioxidants in a mango – especially mangiferin, zeaxanthin and lutein. We all know how important it is to take on board as many antioxidants as possible; they will protect us from illness, disease and even cancer. Eating foods like mangoes will give you a much better chance of staying healthy all year round.
Yes – mangoes do contain a lot of sugar. Like everything, it all comes down to being sensible and using moderation. The benefits of eating mango, as we’ve seen, are plentiful. But you should also consider that you’ll find around 46 grams of natural sugar in a mango.
So what is the right balance? A cup or two of mango a day is absolutely fine. That way you get all the wonderful benefits that mangoes have to offer, without causing a blood glucose spike.
Another great thing about mangoes is how versatile they are. You could include them in any meal of the day, and snacks in between.
You get the idea. There are plenty of ways to get your daily dose of mango. Obviously, we have a personal favourite – in a smoothie! It is the perfect smoothie ingredient, being so nutritious and delicious and you can make sure you get the perfect dose. Try mango in our best-selling Pash ‘N’ Shoot Smoothie, gym bunny favourite Kale Kick or tropical Coco Loco – it’s one of our favourite ingredients.
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