Mangoes are easy to find in most supermarkets today. Aside from the fresh produce section, you’ll spot them in bags of frozen fruit, trail mixes and salsas. Many people enjoy mangoes, but are they healthy?
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Registered dietitian Carly Sedlacek, RD, LD, explains the standout health benefits of this sweet fruit.
Are mangoes good for you?
Mangoes are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They pack a lot of nutrition into a low number of calories. One cup of chopped mango has 99 calories and 2.6 grams of fiber. In terms of your recommended daily value of vitamins and minerals, you also get:
Mangoes are also a good source of:
Mango’s health benefits
Mangoes won’t solve any health problems on their own, but they definitely have superfood powers. When you eat mangoes as part of an overall healthy diet, they:
1. Improve your gut health
Mangoes are good sources of both types of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber is a carbohydrate in plant foods that you can’t digest. Insoluble fiber doesn’t break down in your digestive tract, which adds bulk to your stool (poop). As a result, your stool is softer and easier to pass.
2. Support your healthy weight goals
Fiber isn’t just good for your gut. It could benefit your waistline, too. One study found that mangoes may help control hunger, which could help you stick to your healthy eating goals.
“Mangoes take longer to digest than low-fiber foods,” says Sedlacek. “So, you’re less likely to notice a crash of fatigue and hunger that happens after you eat processed foods or foods that may not be as nutritionally dense, like chips or crackers. You feel fuller, longer, without having to consume a lot of calories. And you’re able to get some extra nutrients in the process!”
3. Boost hair and skin health
Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that are necessary for healthy hair and skin. These vitamins help fight off the damage your skin sustains each day from the environment. Applying these vitamins directly to your skin can be beneficial, which is why many skin care products contain them. But you also need these nutrients in your diet and mangos just happen to supply them.
“We all need vitamins A, C and E to support our skin health, but it’s better to get them from whole foods, not supplements,” states Sedlacek. “High intakes of these vitamins from supplements could be harmful and can interact with medications. They also take longer to break down in the body and aren’t absorbed as easily in supplement form. Eating mango gives you a healthy dose of these nutrients without the risks of supplements.”
4. Help lower cholesterol
The soluble fiber in mangos can help lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” cholesterol that causes plaque to build up in your blood vessels, which blocks the flow of blood and oxygen).
“The soluble fiber levels in mangos aren’t as high as what’s found in whole grains or fruits with skin, but it’s still beneficial,” notes Sedlacek.
5. Control your blood pressure
Many people aren’t getting enough potassium, a mineral that helps counteract the effects of sodium in your body. Too much sodium — and not enough potassium — can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension).
“High blood pressure has no symptoms, so you won’t know you have it without getting it checked, which is why you should always have an annual checkup with your primary care provider,” says Sedlacek. “Potassium helps fight high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Eating mangoes and other potassium-rich foods each day can boost your cardiovascular health.”
People who have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or who take certain medications may need to limit their potassium intake. Talk to your provider about how much potassium you should consume each day.
6. Help prevent some types of cancer
Mangoes are rich in antioxidants, which are natural substances that protect your cells from damage. Mangoes contain a particular type, mangiferin, which has been found to protect against damage that can lead to cancer.
Mangiferin has been found to possibly lower the risk of cancers of the:
“No single food can completely protect you from cancer, but mangoes definitely contain cancer-fighting nutrients,” says Sedlacek. “Eating mangoes and other produce in place of processed foods is an effective way to lower your overall cancer risk.”
How to eat mango
Mangoes are a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth and are plenty sweet on their own. So, steer clear of canned or dried types that contain added sugar. Check the nutrition label for the “added sugar” content to be sure. Peeled, chopped mango goes well in:
Mango is also delicious:
- On the grill: Grilled mango can be a sweet side dish at your summer cookout.
- Baked: Throw some chopped mango in a whole-grain muffin recipe. Or consider this healthy mango almond celebration cake for your next party spread.
- With fish: Mango is a great fish taco topper, so try these red snapper tacos with mango salsa. Or get a dose of healthy omega-3 fats when you eat salmon with mango salsa.
Be aware of allergic reactions
Always thoroughly wash and peel mangoes before eating them. Though they’re edible, it’s best to avoid eating the peel as it contains urushiol, a natural oil that’s responsible for the itchy rashes people get from poison ivy and oak.
“Some people have an allergic reaction from touching mango skin, but others don’t react at all,” warns Sedlacek. “If you get itchy hands when you peel mangoes, wear gloves to wash and peel them.”
A superfood worth trying
With all its vitamins, minerals and fiber, mango deserves a regular spot in your fruit bowl. And with so many sweet and savory mango recipes, you’re bound to find one that appeals to you.
“Mango is often called a superfruit because it’s chock-full of nutrition,” reiterates Sedlacek. “Enjoy mango along with other fruits, like apples, blueberries and cherries, for well-rounded nutritional benefits.”