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14 Surprising Facts About Mangos

by
author image Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Julie Upton is co-founder of Appetite for Health and is a certified sports dietitian who has been writing since 1994. She is a nationally recognized journalist who has contributed to "The New York Times," "Shape" and "Men's Health." Upton is also the coauthor of "The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health's 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions." She holds a Master of Science in nutrition communications.

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14 Surprising Facts About Mangos
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Mangoes are considered the king of fruits because they’re so popular in many parts of the world, including India, Asia and Central and South America. Despite being the most popular fruit worldwide, they’re still considered exotic by many Americans. Mangoes are true superfruits, based on their all-star nutritional profile and several research studies that reveal their health-promoting properties. Read on to learn 14 surprising facts that might make you mad for mangoes.

1. Mangoes Can Help Manage Your Middle
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1 MANGOES CAN HELP MANAGE YOUR MIDDLE

They may seem more like a decadent dessert than a healthy fruit, but mangoes are diet-friendly. Because they’re naturally sweet, eating them can help quash your cravings for candy or other sugary foods. A one-cup serving of fresh mango has 100 calories, and because that same serving has three grams of filling fiber, you’ll feel fuller on fewer calories. In fact, mangoes are 83 percent water by weight, and research from Penn State University has shown that eating foods that have a high water content (and lower energy density) help to keep you fuller while eating less. In fact, one of their studies found that eating a piece of fruit before a meal reduced the calories consumed at that meal by 15 percent. Several other studies have proven that eating a diet rich in low-energy-dense foods like mangoes is an effective way to peel off pounds.

Related: 10 Tricks to Save Money and Waste Less of Your Fruits and Veggies

2. Mango Eaters Have Healthier Diets
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2 MANGO EATERS HAVE HEALTHIER DIETS

Recent research shows that eating mangoes can instantly upgrade your diet. Using national food-consumption data of more than 29,000 U.S. children and adults, researchers at Louisiana State University and Baylor College of Medicine compared the diets and health of those who reported eating mangoes with those who did not eat mangoes. Their results, reported in the “Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences,” found that adults who enjoyed the tropical fruit had higher amounts of key nutrients like fiber and potassium and that their overall diets scored higher on the Healthy Eating Index. In addition, adults eating mangoes ate less sugar and sodium, were less likely to be overweight, and had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a maker of inflammation in the bloodstream that may precipitate other chronic diseases.

Related: How to Eat Mangoes and 4 Other Tricky Fruits

3. Mangoes Are Antioxidant Rich
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3 MANGOES ARE ANTIOXIDANT RICH

They’re a colorful fruit, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that mangoes are rich in beneficial antioxidants. One study, reported in the journal “Plant Foods and Human Nutrition,” measured the antioxidant capacity of four different varieties of mangoes. They found that antioxidants were abundant in all of the varieties tested. The common antioxidants present in mangoes include vitamin C, carotenoids (i.e., alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) and phenolic compounds like vanillic acid, gallic acid and mangiferin. Together, these bioactive compounds present in mangoes act synergistically to provide a bigger antioxidant punch. Antioxidants can help temper the chronic inflammation that plays a role in several common diseases like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Preliminary evidence shows that these antioxidants may also have anticancer properties.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

4. Meet Francis, Haden and Tommy Atkins (They’re All Mangoes!)
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4 MEET FRANCIS, HADEN AND TOMMY ATKINS (THEY’RE ALL MANGOES!)

While there are literally hundreds of varieties of mangoes around the world, there are six different varieties generally available in the United States. The Ataulfo variety is available from March to July. This vibrant yellow mango has a sweet, creamy flavor and a smooth, firm flesh with no fibers. The Francis variety is available from May to July. You can recognize this rich, spicy and sweet mango by its bright yellow skin with green overtones. In the spring, the bright red (with green and yellow overtones) Haden variety is your best choice. Tommy Atkins is the most common mango variety. It’s in season from March to July and again from October to January. Mild and sweet, this variety is excellent in fish dishes. The last two varieties include the Keitt, which is available from August to September, and the Kent, which is available from January to March and again from June to August.

Related: Mango and Black Bean Salsa Recipe

5. Mangoes Have All the Vitamin C You Need (And 20 Other Nutrients as Well!)
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5 MANGOES HAVE ALL THE VITAMIN C YOU NEED (AND 20 OTHER NUTRIENTS AS WELL!)

A nutrient-rich fruit, mangoes contain more than 20 different vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients that help support optimal functioning of processes throughout the body. A cup of mango provides 100 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C -- an essential vitamin that boosts the immune system. Mangoes are also an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes sharp vision, and folate, which helps support a healthy heart. And don’t forget that mangoes are a terrific source of vitamin B6, which plays a role in cognitive development.

Related: 10 Tricks to Save Money and Waste Less of Your Fruits and Veggies

6. Mangoes Are Good for Your Peepers
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6 MANGOES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR PEEPERS

Their bright orange or yellow pulp is a cue that mangoes are rich in carotenoids that are beneficial for maintaining healthy vision. In fact, the tropical fruit is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). A serving of mango provides 35 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A. It also provides alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, two other carotenoids that can also be converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is critical for healthy vision and keeps your eyes sharper in dim or dark light. It’s also important to help prevent dry eyes. Population-based studies have included beta-carotene supplements (along with several other nutrients) to help reduce the incidence of age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration. To date, there have been promising results that beta-carotene, along with other nutrients like vitamins C and E and lutein, may play a role in keeping vision keen as you age.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

7. A Squeeze Test Tells If a Mango Is Ripe, Not Its Color
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7 A SQUEEZE TEST TELLS IF A MANGO IS RIPE, NOT ITS COLOR

You can’t tell if a mango is ripe based on color, so check the fruit’s firmness instead. Ripe mangoes will give slightly with a gentle squeeze. Use the knowledge you’ve gained from picking more familiar fruits like peaches and avocados, which also become softer as they ripen. In some instances, you can judge the ripeness of a mango by smell, since ripe mangoes will sometimes have a fruity aroma at their stem ends. If you get home and realize your mango is firmer than desired, simply set it on your countertop. Mangoes will continue to ripen at room temperature over several days.

Related: 16 Foods You Don’t Always Need to Buy Organic

8. To Cut Correctly, Find the Mango’s “Eye” and “Cheeks”
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8 TO CUT CORRECTLY, FIND THE MANGO’S “EYE” AND “CHEEKS”

When it comes to cutting a mango, the first step is to find the eye -- every mango has one, and the seed runs directly behind it. Take your mango and place it on a cutting board so that it is looking up at you. Then, take a sharp knife and cut just off center about a quarter of an inch. Turn the mango around and repeat this same cut on the other side so that you have two mango cheeks. Take one cheek and cut through the flesh (make sure not to cut through the skin) with your knife, creating parallel spears. Scoop the spears out with a spoon. Repeat the process with the other mango cheek, cutting through the flesh, but not the skin. You can store a ripe mango in the refrigerator for up to five days, or dice and store in the freezer for up to six months.

Related: See Photos - How to Cut Mangoes and 4 Other Tricky Fruits

9. Mangoes Make Great Salsas
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9 MANGOES MAKE GREAT SALSAS

Life is a lot sweeter when you enhance your favorite dishes with mango salsa! Try mango salsa on fish tacos or other Mexican dishes, with grilled or baked chicken, or even with your favorite tortilla chips. A delicious salsa to try is the Tropical Mango Papaya recipe, which includes mango, papaya, red bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, cumin, olive oil, lime and salt.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

10. Mangoes Make Smoothies Better
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10 MANGOES MAKE SMOOTHIES BETTER

Mangoes are a terrific addition if you’re looking to add an extra boost of nutrition to your favorite smoothie recipes. If you’re pressed for time or looking for a nutrient-rich post-workout snack, try a mango smoothie. Mangoes go well with green smoothies (kale, spinach, celery) to add a dose of sweetness and a creamy texture. Try three-fourths of a cup of vanilla almond milk, one cup of kale, one ripe banana and half a cup of frozen mango chunks, then blend until smooth. The result is a scrumptious, creamy smoothie bursting with immune-system-boosting vitamin C.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

11. Mangoes Are an All-Natural Tenderizer
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11 MANGOES ARE AN ALL-NATURAL TENDERIZER

In addition to being nutritious and healthy, mangoes can act as a natural tenderizer, meaning they’re ideal for creating marinades for meat and poultry. A specific enzyme in mangoes called papin helps to break down the connective, fibrous tissues in meats or poultry. Keep in mind that when using an acid-based marinade (like one that incorporates mangoes), be sure to use only containers made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel, never aluminum. The chemical reaction produced when aluminum is used can impart an unattractive discoloration to the food and can also darken and pit your aluminum container.

Related: See Full Recipe and Nutritional Details in MyPlate

12. Fresh Mangoes Are Available Year-Round
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12 FRESH MANGOES ARE AVAILABLE YEAR-ROUND

Many countries, including Mexico, Peru and Brazil, grow mangoes. You’ll also find mango crops in parts of the United States; however, production is limited to areas like Florida, California, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, where the climate is conducive to growing this warm-weather fruit. Some mango-producing nations harvest their crops at different times of the year, which is good news for mango lovers because this means that you get to enjoy mangoes all year long. Whether you need your mango fix in June, December or any month of the year, you’ll likely be able to find at least one of the six main varieties. Each variety has a unique flavor and texture, so try different ones throughout the year.

Related: 10 Tricks to Save Money and Waste Less of Your Fruits and Veggies

13. Mangoes May Help Strengthen Your Bones
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13 MANGOES MAY HELP STRENGTHEN YOUR BONES

When you think of bone health and nutrition, foods containing calcium or vitamin D like milk and yogurt probably spring to mind. But early research suggests that mangoes could give you stronger bones too. In one animal study conducted recently at Oklahoma State University, researchers found that small doses of mango seemed to help strengthen bones in mice that were fed a high-fat diet. More studies are needed to confirm these findings and to understand if mangoes will impact bone health in humans. The early research, however, is exciting, and more studies are underway.

Related: 18 Fat-Rich Foods That Are Good for You

14. Mangoes Are At Least 4,000 Years Old
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14 MANGOES ARE AT LEAST 4,000 YEARS OLD

The mango is an ancient fruit that has a long and fascinating history. They are believed to have originated in India, and there’s evidence that mango trees were cultivated and grown there for at least 4,000 years. From India, Buddhist monks took mangoes on their voyages to other lands. By the 10th century, the mango had reached as far as the Middle East and even Africa. Later they were cultivated in South America, and by 1880, mangoes were introduced to California. Mangoes have come a long way throughout the centuries taste-wise too. Early mangoes were small and fibrous and without much flesh. Today’s mangoes are larger and contain thicker, sweeter flesh.

Related: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Have you tried mangos? Do you like them? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat them? Did you already know all of the mango facts on our list? Did any of them surprise you? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Related: 20 Foods to Always Buy Organic (Even If You’re On a Budget!)

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