The mango is a succulent stone fruit cultivated in South Asia for thousands of years before reaching East Asia between the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The taste and texture of the flesh vary depending on the cultivars. Some mangoes have a soft, pulpy texture like an overripe plum, others are firmer, like an avocado, and some may even have a fibrous texture.
Here are seven health benefits of mangoes.
1. Mangoes can help you fight against cancer.
Mangoes are high in a soluble fiber called pectin. Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that pectin consumption could inhibit the spontaneous metastasis of prostate adenocarcinoma cells in rats. Fragments of pectin combine with galectin 3, a protein that plays a significant role in all stages of cancer.
Also, mangoes contain high amounts of the red-orange pigment called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has been found to help protect against prostate cancer. The Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition found a significantly inverse link between beta-carotene consumption and prostate cancer risks in men younger than 65 years old.
Other studies have linked beta-carotene to a decreased risk or breast and colon cancer.
2. Mangoes may help control your blood sugar levels.
Pectin slows down the activity of enzymes that break down sugars and starches. Thus, the sugar from mangoes is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, which prevents sugar crashes, sugar cravings, and mood swings. Type 2 diabetics should talk to their doctor first.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed the effects of pectin consumption on 12 type 2 diabetic patients. The participants were placed on a 2,400-calorie low-fiber diet for two weeks followed by a four-week diet with the same calories, but the participants supplemented with 20 grams of pectin per day. The results showed that pectin consumption improved tolerance and slows the stomach-emptying rate making pectin useful for helping people with type 2 diabetes.
3. Mangoes can contribute to maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Mangoes are loaded with potassium and a low content of sodium and can help people with hypertension. The American Heart Association recommends the daily intake of potassium of 4,700 milligrams. Although increasing your potassium intake could help your blood pressure, the full effect occurs when you combine that habit with decreasing your sodium intake. According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010,” Americans consume on average 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. To put that into context, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that the daily upper limit for sodium consumption is 2,300 milligrams. People who are active do not require more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day despite sweating profusely.
One cup of mangoes contains 257 milligrams of potassium, compared to 3.3 milligrams of sodium. This helps the blood vessels relax and maintains proper blood pressure.
4. Mangoes can contribute to improving your heart’s health.
Dietary fiber and potassium have been known to improve the heart’s health. One study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggested that people who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 49 percent decreased the risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed 1,793 milligrams of potassium per day.
Also, the pectin in mangoes can help decrease cholesterol levels in the blood. Elevated levels of cholesterol have been linked to coronary heart disease. A double-blind study published in the journal of Clinical Cardiology found that pectin supplementation decreased the plasma cholesterol by 7.6 percent, the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, by 10.8 percent, and the low-density lipoprotein:high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio by 9.8 percent. The participants did not change their diets nor lifestyle.
5. Mangoes can help manage constipation and diarrhea.
Mangoes contain both insoluble and soluble fiber like pectin that can help provide relief to constipation and diarrhea. One cup of mangoes almost contains three grams of dietary fiber. According to the Institute of Medicine, men and women are recommended to consume 38 grams and 25 grams of fiber, respectively.
6. Mangoes may help improve your mental well-being.
Several components of mangoes, such as potassium, folate, and various antioxidants are known to provide neurological benefits. Folate has been known to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Potassium has been linked to increase blood flow to the brain and enhance cognition, concentration, and neural activity.
Also, mangoes contain a considerable amount of vitamin B6. A deficiency has shown depression and nausea. Be sure not to consume too much. The vitamin B6 upper limit is set to 100 milligrams for adults over the age of 18, but adults do not need that much unless directed by the doctor.
7. Mangoes could help you fight infections.
One cup of mangoes contains 76 percent of the vitamin C daily requirements. Vitamin C is a potent natural water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents. Vitamin C deficiency has been linked to the frequency and duration of the common colds. The common cold can lead to more serious problems like pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, especially for seniors and children.
A 2014 study, published in the journal of Nutrients, suggested that vitamin C supplementation of 1,000 milligrams for eight weeks helped reduce the risk of the common cold in healthy adults between the ages 18-35 with chronic stress or obesity.