In some parts of the world, mango (Mangifera indica) is called the “king of fruits.”
It’s a drupe, or stone fruit, which means that it has a large seed in the middle.
Mango is native to India and Southeast Asia and has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. There are hundreds of types of mango, each with a unique taste, shape, size and color.
This fruit is not only delicious but also boasts an impressive nutritional profile.
In fact, studies link mango and its nutrients to health benefits, such as improved immunity, digestive health and eyesight, as well as a lower risk of certain cancers.
Here’s an overview of mango, its nutrition, benefits and some tips on how to enjoy it.
Mango is low in calories but full of nutrients.
One cup (165 grams) of sliced mango provides:
- Calories: 99
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Carbs: 24.7 grams
- Fat: 0.6 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 67% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Copper: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 11.6% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 9.7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5: 6.5% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 6% of the RDI
- Niacin: 7% of the RDI
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 5% of the RDI
- Manganese: 4.5% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
It also contains small amounts of phosphorus, pantothenic acid, calcium, selenium and iron.
One cup (165 grams) of mango provides nearly 70% of the RDI for vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that aids your immune system, helps your body absorb iron and promotes growth and repair.
Mango is packed with polyphenols, plant compounds that function as antioxidants.
It has over a dozen different types, including mangiferin, catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, benzoic acid and many others.
Antioxidants are important as they protect your cells against free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that can bind to and damage your cells.
Research has linked free radical damage to signs of aging and chronic diseases.
Amongst the polyphenols, mangiferin has gained the most interest and is sometimes called a “super antioxidant” since it’s especially powerful.
Test-tube and animal studies have found that mangiferin may counter free radical damage linked to cancers, diabetes and other illnesses.
Mango is a good source of immune-boosting nutrients.
One cup (165 grams) of mango provides 10% of your daily vitamin A needs.
Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system, as it helps fight infections. Meanwhile, not getting enough vitamin A is linked to a greater infection risk.
On top of this, the same amount of mango provides nearly three-quarters of your daily vitamin C needs. This vitamin can help your body produce more disease-fighting white blood cells, help these cells work more effectively and improve your skin’s defenses.
Mango also contains folate, vitamin K, vitamin E and several B vitamins, which aid immunity as well.
Mango contains nutrients that support a healthy heart.
For instance, it offers magnesium and potassium, which help maintain a healthy pulse and your blood vessels relax, promoting lower blood pressure levels.
Mango also contains a unique antioxidant called mangiferin.
Animal studies have found that mangiferin may protect heart cells against inflammation, oxidative stress and apoptosis (controlled cell death).
In addition, it may lower blood cholesterol, triglycerides and free fatty acid levels.
While these findings are promising, research on mangiferin and heart health in humans is currently lacking. Therefore, more studies are needed before it can be recommended as a treatment.
Mango has several qualities that make it excellent for digestive health.
For one, it contains a group of digestive enzymes called amylases.
Digestive enzymes break down large food molecules so that they can be easily absorbed.
Amylases break down complex carbs into sugars, such as glucose and maltose. These enzymes are more active in ripe mangoes, which is why they’re sweeter than unripe ones.
Moreover, since mango contains plenty of water and dietary fiber, it may help solve digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea.
One four-week study in adults with chronic constipation found that eating mango daily was more effective at relieving symptoms of the condition than a supplement containing a similar amount of soluble fiber.
This indicates that mango has other components aside from dietary fiber that aid digestive health.
May Support Eye Health
Mango is full of nutrients that help support healthy eyes.
Two key nutrients are the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These accumulate in the retina of the eye, the part that converts light into brain signals so your brain can interpret what you’re seeing, especially at its core, the macula.
Inside the retina, lutein and zeaxanthin act as a natural sunblock, absorbing excess light. In addition, they appear to protect your eyes from harmful blue light.
Mangoes are also a good source of vitamin A, which supports eye health.
A lack of dietary vitamin A has been linked to dry eyes and nighttime blindness. More severe deficiencies can cause more serious issues, such as corneal scarring.
Mango is high in vitamin C, which promotes healthy hair and skin.
This vitamin is essential for making collagen, a protein that gives structure to your skin and hair. Collagen gives your skin its bounce and combats sagging and wrinkles.
Additionally, mango is a good source of vitamin A, which encourages hair growth and the production of sebum, a liquid that helps moisturize your scalp to keep your hair healthy.
What’s more, vitamin A and other retinoids migrate to your skin and protect it from the sun.
Aside from vitamins A and C, mango is high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants.
These antioxidants help protect hair follicles against damage from oxidative stress.
Mango is high in polyphenols, which may have anticancer properties.
Polyphenols can help protect against oxidative stress, which is linked to many types of cancer.
Test-tube and animal studies found that mango polyphenols reduced oxidative stress and stopped the growth or destroyed various cancer cells, including leukemia and cancer of the colon, lung, prostate and breast.
Mangiferin, a major polyphenol in mango, has recently gained attention for its promising anticancer effects. In animal studies, it reduced inflammation, protected cells against oxidative stress and either stopped the growth of cancer cells or killed them.
While these studies are promising, human studies are needed to better understand mango polyphenols anticancer effects in people.
Mango is delicious, versatile and easy to add to your diet.
However, it can be difficult to cut due to its tough skin and large pit.
A good idea is to cut long vertical slices 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) away from the middle to separate the flesh from the pit. Next, cut the flesh into a grid-like pattern and scoop it out of the rind.
Here are some ways you can enjoy mango:
- Add it to smoothies.
- Dice it and add to salsas.
- Toss it into a summer salad.
- Slice it and serve it along with other tropical fruits.
- Dice it and add to quinoa salads.
Keep in mind that mango is sweeter and contains more sugar than many other fruits. Moderation is key — it’s best to limit mango to no more than two cups (330 grams) per day at most.