Mangoes make an excellent addition to a meal, or are tasty when eaten alone. There are different varieties of mangoes, but all have a soft, sweet taste. Mangoes may be considered an exotic fruit, and therefore are not as popular as traditional apples, oranges and bananas. However, mangoes provide a nutritious snack option.
Vitamin A is responsible for many necessary functions in the body. According the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin A keeps the skin and mucous membranes strong, as well as the linings of the intestinal and respiratory tracts. The form of vitamin A from plant sources such as mangoes is beta-carotene. A study published in the journal of "The American Society for Nutritional Sciences" reports that beta-carotene reduces the size of cancerous tumors and protects the body from developing them. One mango provides between 25 and 40 percent of the RDA, which according to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements is 5,000 IU.
Mangoes are also a good source of vitamins C and E, which are powerful antioxidants right along with vitamin A. The vitamin C content of mangoes is very high, with one cup of sliced mango delivering 45 mg, which is over 70 percent of the RDA. The vitamin E content is 1.8 mg--almost 10 percent of the RDA. While you may think you should skip the mango and simply take an antioxidant supplement, think again. Taking antioxidant supplements does not have the same health effects on the body that getting the antioxidants from fresh fruit and vegetables has. The theory behind this is that there is more than just vitamins C, E and beta-carotene in fruit. There are numerous vitamins and minerals that have to work together and can not function the same when isolated from one another.
If you are watching your weight, or blood pressure, mangoes are a great snack alternative. According to Elements4Health, a respected nutritional research firm, mangoes have a low glycemic index, which is a benefit to those who want to keep their blood sugar in check. With only 60 calories in a half-cup serving, mangoes also contain no fat and no sodium, which is great for those concerned about blood pressure, as well as for anyone who wants to take off, or keep away, those extra pounds. It also contains water and 1 gram of fiber. The average adult needs between 20 and 30 grams of fiber daily.
African mango, or Irvingia gabonensis, is indigenous to tropical rain forests of Guinea and while the flesh of the fruit has nutritional value, it is the pit, or the dikanut, that has been extensively studied for its medicinal properties. According to the Global Institute for Bioexploration, extract of the dikanut may help to alleviate diarrhea, diabetes, hernia and yellow fever, while leaf extracts may help to reduce fever. Clinical studies also support the pit of African mango as a treatment aid for obesity and elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol. Consult with your health care advisor prior to ingesting African mango.
Albert Ayena, Ph.D., of the Global Institute for Bioexploration, states that the oil contained in the fruit's seed is abundant in beta-carotene. National Institutes of Health explains that beta-carotene is effective at preventing certain cancers, high blood pressure, infertility, heartburn and some emotional and mental disorders. The seed is also rich in calcium, iron and B vitamins, as well as healthy fatty acids, such as myristic, lauric, palmitic, stearic and oleic acids. Fatty acids are essential for brain health, body function and muscular development.
A study, led by Judith Ngondi, was published in the May 2005 edition of "Lipids in Health and Disease." Ngondi researched the effects that dikanut extract had on the weight of individuals diagnosed with obesity. The study consisted of 40 individuals that were divided into two groups, intervention and control. The intervention group ingested the pit extract of the African mango fruit thrice daily over a 4-week period while the control group was administered placebos. The results indicated that the intervention group experienced an average weight reduction of 5.26 lbs. while the control group lost an average of 1.32 lbs. Although further research is necessary to validate these claims, the results hold promise.
In the same 2005 study, Ngondi also noted that the subjects placed in the intervention group exhibited a significant reduction in blood lipid levels, which include triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, the participants' level of high density lipoprotein, otherwise known as the "good" cholesterol, showed marked improvements. The placebo group, on the other hand, exhibited no alterations to blood lipid levels.
Another study, published in the March 2009 edition of "Lipids in Health and Disease," also conducted by Ngondi, reported that the extract of the dikanut may help to improve blood-glucose levels in patients diagnosed with diabetes. The study was performed over a 10 week period and consisted of 100 overweight individuals. Similar to the previous study in 2005, the subjects were divided into two groups, intervention and placebo. The results indicated that African mango does have a positive impact on blood-glucose levels; however, further research is required.