If the grape is the “queen of fruits” then this super fruit is the “king of fruits” with its unique flavor, texture and great health promoting properties. The only downside is that it can be rather messy to eat! But more on that later in the post.
is the summer fruit in question, which started life in India but is now widely distributed across the world in most continents. The national fruit of India, it is considered to be the food of the gods and an important symbol of love, wealth, fertility and even immortality. In India, the leaves of mango trees are used in wedding ceremonies to ensure that the couple bears many children. Might not be such a good idea with the world's burgeoning population.
An unripe mango will have a smooth green skin but as it ripens, the skin turns to golden orange or orange-red, with an inside orange-yellow fiber-rich flesh. Some varieties have been developed to have none or less fiber content in recent decades – probably to cater to people's preferences.
All the good things for you in mangoes
- Mango fruit is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds. These compounds help to protect against breast and other cancers.
- Mango fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin A for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin, together with flavonoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin which are essential for good eye health.
- Fresh mango is a good source of potassium helping to control both the heart rate and blood pressure.
- Mangoes are low in calories and fat and especially rich in the protective vitamins B6, C and E plus they contain moderate amounts of copper which is a co-factor for many vital enzymes. Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells.
- This super fruit will boost your immune system and contains natural antidotes to digestive ailments.
Choosing and preparing mangoes
When choosing a mango, pick one that is plump and heavy for its size and it should be fragrant when held close to the nose. If you'll be using the mango right away, you will want to find a ripe one. Mangoes are ripe when you can indent them slightly with your thumb. Unripe (but not green) mangoes will ripen in a few days when left on your counter. Refrigerate a ripe mango to make it last longer.
If you end up with a rather ripe mango, use in recipes requiring pureed pulp or follow this idea. With enough pressure to mash the mango's insides, but not so much that you break the skin, start squeezing and rolling the mango until it feels like the flesh inside is broken down. Cut off the top of the mango and then suck out the pulp and juice with a wide straw for a fun mango smoothie. Children love to do this.
Two ways to prepare mangoes
I love to eat mangoes fresh and raw and I wash my hands before and after peeling them with my paring knife and cutting off slices until I reach the large flat seed in the center.
Others prefer to place the mango with one flat side resting on the cutting board before slicing lengthwise along the flat side next to the seed. They turn the mango over and repeat on the other side to give them two halves of mango pulp in the skin before carefully cutting a cross-hatch pattern through the mango pulp down to the skin. You can use a small spoon to eat the cubes of fruit or put into a bowl. Cut the remaining fruit attached to the seed and add to your bowl.
Each fresh mango will yield about 1 cup of diced mango
Of course there are loads of mango recipes including mango chutney, mango lassi, mango cubed and topped with chopped mint or chili, mango sliced and layered on grilled cheese, mango served with coconut sticky rice, mango served with cayenne pepper and a pinch of natural salt, mango salsa or spicy mango sauce.
Just one word of warning
In rare cases, very sensitive people can get a rash from handling mango peel and being exposed to its juice. This is because the mango contains a very small amount of irritant (similar to, but much less than, poison ivy). But usually anyone affected in this way can still enjoy the fruit, provided some one else does the peeling.