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Mangoes: Exotic Healing

Mango_exotic_nutrition_imageThe mango is a tropical fruit with a smooth green skin that develops patches of yellow and red as it ripens. The sweet fruit is especially juicy when it's ripe and the seed in the mango is larger than any other seed in the fruit kingdom; it’s flat and nearly as large and wide as the fruit itself! Mangoes actually come from the sumac family, which is related to pistachio and cashew nuts. There are more than a thousand varieties of mangoes, all of which range in size and shape, but the most common varieties are approximately the size of an avocado.

The mango tree is an evergreen that grows up to 100 feet tall and starts bearing fruit four to six years after being planted. Each mango tree yields an average of 100 mangoes a year and it continues to bear fruit for about forty years. The mango originated in the Himalayas in India and Southeast Asia, where they still grow today. The wild mango is very different from the mango that we see in grocery stores today, as the it is fibrous, small, and has a less appealing taste.

Mangoes are one of the leading fruit crops in the world, ranking in at number seven among the top twenty fruits. And surprisingly, more mangoes are consumed worldwide on a regular basis than apples! The first mention of mangoes dates all the way back to 4000 B.C.E. where it's found in Hindu scripture. According to legend, Buddha "was delighted in the mango" and was given a whole grove of mango trees were he could rest whenever he wanted. Later, the cultivation of mangoes started in India where the fruit was considered to be sacred, as it was linked to Buddha, and was also a symbol of love. Today, India is still the world's largest producer of mangoes.

There are many health benefits of mangoes, coming primarily from their high concentration of carotenoids, antioxidant nutrients, and various phytochemicals. An interesting study looked at white blood cells exposed to cancer-causing substances. They found that white blood cells that were exposed to both cancer-causing substances as well as mango extract had less incidence of cancer. This demonstrated an ability to stop normal cells from turning into cancer cells. Mango consumption has also shown particular promise for helping to prevent and treat gallstones and gallbladder cancer.

mango_exotic_healing_imageMangoes also have a high amount of enzymes, including one that is similar to the papain in papayas, that help to improve digestion. In fact, in the tropical countries where mangoes are grown, it is common to use mangoes as a meat tenderizer since they have powerful proteolytic enzymes that help to break down the proteins. Because of their high enzyme concentration, mangoes can be important for gut health, as the enzymes make digestion and assimilation of nutrients easier on the body. Mangoes also help protect against infections. Studies have shown that those who consumed mangoes had a higher blood level of retinol (vitamin A) than those who were given the placebo. This is significant because vitamin A is known as the "anti-infective vitamin," which means that mangoes can be of particular importance in third-world countries where poverty is high and infections can be fatal due to lack of resources.

Mangoes are also high in iron, which makes them a great food for blood-building and helping to prevent anemia, especially for women during pregnancy and menstruation. Also, people who struggle with cramps, stress, and/or heart problems can benefit from the mango’s high potassium and magnesium content.

Mangoes are also high in beta carotene, which is a strong antioxidant important for healthy vision. The high antioxidant content of mangoes also make them a great food for helping to decrease the unhealthy low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by preventing both oxidization and sticking to the walls of the arteries. Also of interest is that mangoes can be safely enjoyed by diabetics. In a study, plasma glucose and insulin responses to various tropical fruits were compared, and the glucose response curve for the mango was the lowest of all.

mango_great_source_nutrients_imageMangoes are a great source of carotenes, vitamins A, B, C, and E, copper, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Raw mangoes are also very hydrating as they are 82 percent water! They also are great sources of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. When purchasing mangoes, choose fruit grown in Florida or Hawaii if possible, as imported mangoes are often irradiated or sprayed with chemicals that are banned in the U.S. Mango size is related to the variety and not to the level of ripeness. A ripe mango will yield slightly to pressure, and should be soft but solid. If it feels spongy, it is overripe and likely spoiled. Avoid mangoes that have loose or shriveled skin; the skin should be smooth and unblemished. Mangoes can be left at room temperature or stored in the fridge. Once ripe, mangoes will keep in the fridge for one to three days.

Mango Rice

  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 1 sour raw mango (a medium-sized one that yields one cup packed when peeled and grated)
  • ¼ tsp of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For the paste:

  • ½ tsp of black mustard seeds
  • ½ cup of grated coconut
  • 2-3 of green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 1 small bunch of coriander leaves

For tempering:

  • 3 tbsp of gingelly oil like Idayam (Indian sesame oil)
  • ½ tsp of bengal gram / kadala paruppu / channa dal
  • 1 ½ tsp of skinned halved urad dal / split black gram / ulutham paruppu
  • ½ tsp of black mustard seeds
  • 2-3 of dried red chillies (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ tsp of hing / asafoetida / perungaayam
  • A few of curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp of whole peanuts preferably with skin

Get the directions at

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