Mangos, which are native to southern Asia, have become more popular lately due to their medicinal and nutritional properties. Mango trees are found in tropical climates as they are extremely susceptible to the cold. Buddhist monks are thought to have traveled with mangos in the 4th and 5th centuries and the Persians to have brought them to Africa in the 10th century. They were later brought to South America, the Caribbean and North America. They are also on the Environmental Working Groups “Clean 15” list, meaning that the non-organic crops of mangos tested were some of the lowest in pesticide residues.
Nutritionally, mangos are high in fiber and vitamins A & C and are a good source of vitamin B6. They are very low in fat and have a medium level glycemic index. The fiber in mangos is both soluble and insoluble, which is good for both the digestive system and the cardiovascular system.
The latest research has shown promising results with mangos and their extracts regarding Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In one in vitro study, polyphenol extracts from mangos where observed to cause cell death to breast, colon, lung, leukemia and prostate cancers, but were most effective in breast and colon cancers.
Mangiferin, the most studied and effective of mango polyphenols, works as an antioxidant that helps to combat inflammation, degenerative diseases and cancer. In one study, it was determined that although the polyphenols could be extracted from all parts of the tree, the beneficial properties seemed to work best synergistically when eating the fruit as a whole.
Mangos are beautiful and delicious and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. They are obviously used a lot in Asian recipes and are a great addition to any diet.
Image courtesy of MangoMaintenance.com.