The health benefits of mango

High in fibre, vitamins and minerals, eating mango has many benefits. Discover how much counts towards your 5-a-day and whether fresh or dried is best.

Mango cut into cubes on a plate

This tropical fruit is refreshing, juicy and delicious, and like most fruit, it has some great nutritional benefits. Read on to discover why mango is so good for you and whether fresh or dried is best.

What is mango?

Mangoes are tropical stone fruits, plump and oval in shape and about the size of a grapefruit. They have an inedible skin that ranges in colour from yellow to green through to red-green, depending on the variety, whilst inside is a soft, edible yellow flesh and a hard inedible stone.

Mangoes only grow in warmer climates. They are native to Southern Asia, but they are now grown in other countries including the US, Mexico and the Caribbean. 

There are several varieties including Kent and Keitt which are commonly seen in UK supermarkets.

Nutritional benefits of mango

Mango is a low-calorie fruit that is high in fibre, and is a great source of vitamins A and C. It also contains folate, B6, iron and a little calcium, zinc and vitamin E. Mangoes are a good source of antioxidants, containing certain phytochemicals such as gallotannins and mangiferin which have been studied for their health benefits.

Just 80g of mango (2 x 2 inch slices) counts as one of your five-a-day. This one portion will provide 53 calories, 11g of naturally-occurring sugar and just over 2g of fibre.

What counts as 5-a-day?

Are mangoes good for digestion?

There was a pilot study in 2018 where people with chronic constipation were each given mango over a 4-week period, and the results demonstrated that those who ate mango saw a significant improvement in their constipation symptoms, in part due to the fibre content but potentially from other mango-specific compounds, too. Interestingly, the leaves of the mango tree have been studied and offer potential antidiarrheal activity thanks to its plant extracts.

An earlier study by the Journal of Nutrition also found that mice who had a high-fat, diet-induced obesity had improved gut microflora after adding mango to their diet. Again, this was in part due to the high fibre content of mango.

A lot of a fruit's phytochemicals are in the skin, and the same is true for mango. A 2012 study looked at the peel of mangoes and concluded that they may play a role in preventing obesity.

The mango's phytochemicals have also been studied for their gastroprotective effects, offering both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to the digestive system, and may even help reduce inflammation in conditions like ulcerative colitis.

Cod with cucumber, mango and tomato salad

Can mangoes help maintain healthy skin & hair?

Mangoes contain good levels of both vitamins A and C.  

Vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen – the protein that provides the skin's elasticity. Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants, playing a protective role against environmental damage; a deficiency of vitamin C can affect wound healing and increase fine lines and wrinkles. Our hair also requires vitamin C both for collagen production and also to help with the absorption of iron – an important mineral needed for hair growth.

All cells require vitamin A for growth, including the skin and hair – and some studies suggest that it may offer potential protective effects against the signs of ageing. One of vitamin A's key roles in hair and skin health is its involvement in the production of sebum, the oily substance that moisturises both our skin and scalp.

Are mangoes good for the heart?

An animal study in 2016 suggested that one of the phytonutrients in mango, mangiferin, offered heart protective benefits including reduced inflammation.

Eating a balanced and varied diet that includes five portions of vegetables and fruit, such as mango, can help to keep your heart healthy.

Is dried mango as healthy as fresh mango?

Dried mango may be a convenient alternative to fresh mango but it is significantly higher in sugar and calories, packing over 300 calories per 80g portion (compared to 53 calories in 80g of fresh mango), and over four times the amount of sugar, at 63g per 80g portion. Dried mango does have good fibre levels, at 12g per serving, but it is still worth watching your portion size and opting for fresh mango where possible.

How to ripen and store mangoes

Mangoes shouldn’t be put in the fridge until they are ripe, so simply place unripe fruits at room temperature for a few days or you can place them in a paper bag to speed up the process. As soon as they are ripe, store in the fridge for up to five days. In order to tell if it is ripe, just gently squeeze it – it should feel soft and you may be able to smell a sweet scent from the stem-end of the fruit.

Healthy mango recipes

Cod with cucumber, avocado & mango salsa salad
Creamy chicken & mango curry
Seared swordfish with mango salsa
Guacamole & mango salad with black beans
Spicy chicken with mango salad
Jerk chicken kebabs with mango salsa

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This article was published on 30 August 2018.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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