With marigold flesh encased in brilliant red-orange-green skin, the mango is a quintessential taste of the tropics. In India, where the native mango has been cultivated for at least 4,000 years, the teardrop-shaped fruit symbolizes love and fertility. Legend has it that Buddha found peace and wish fulfillment in the tranquility of a mango grove. While the mango's connection to spiritual health is the stuff of centuries-old folklore, its merits for physical health are well documented among modern scientists.
Chockful of Carotene
The dulcet, juicy insides of the mango pack a nutritional punch. Its characteristic orange color is a clue to its storehouse of beta carotene (Vitamin A). Ripe mangos hold the highest levels of beta carotene, while green mangos are higher in Vitamin C. These antioxidant carotenoids are known for their protective power against certain cancers. Mangos also supply ample potassium, making them ideal for hypertensive patients or anyone looking to replenish energy after physical activity.
High in Fiber
It's no accident that mangos were traditionally used in Indian chutneys served alongside meat dishes. The fruit contains proteolytic enzymes known to break down proteins, making it an effective meat tenderizer and digestive aid. High in soluble fiber — the average mango contains up to 40 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake — mangos help regulate healthy digestion while helping to protect the heart and keep cholesterol low.
With its plentiful vitamins and fiber, mangos are attracting new attention as cancer fighters. Scientists at the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre in Lucknow, India, found that mango pulp extract suppressed prostate cancer tumor cells in mice. The researchers credited the effects to a compound in mangos called lupeol, which also happens to exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-malarial, and anti-diabetic properties. Upon further research, the mighty mango may yet prove to unlock a variety of cures.
Full of Moisture
Anyone who has eaten a ripe mango knows that the fruit teems with quenching moisture. The abundance of sweet juice makes it hard to eat a mango politely.That same pulp can be a delight for dry skin. Mango butter, used as a beauty product, has hydrating and healing properties that seal in moisture and protect parched skin. As well, the honeyed scent of essential mango oil is appealing in aromatherapy.
Given the mango's abundant curative uses, it's hard to believe it's part of the flowering Anacardiaceae family, which includes toxic plants like poison ivy and poison oak. Mango skin is considered inedible, and some people may develop dermatitis when coming into contact with the peel or tree sap. Aside from these cautions, however, the mango is a compact package of paradise. It truly lives up to its nickname as the “king” of fruits.