The health benefits of mango give it the label of “king fruit,” thanks to it’s cancer protective properties, vision benefits, alkalizing properties and so much more! It is one of the most cultivated fruits in the tropics and has become a staple in the households of many.
The fruit is generally sweet although you will find that different varieties supply your taste buds with very different flavours. Some have a soft, pulpy texture, which others have a more firm, fibrous texture (my favourite mango variety is the incredible Ataulfo!). Mangos contain many phytochemicals and nutrients, and is high in prebiotic dietary fibber, vitamin C, beta-carotene (responsible for producing vitamin A) and a diverse array of polyphenols.
Here are 10 surprising health benefits of our fruity friend, the Mango!
Mango (Mangifera indica) possess antioxidants that help protect against disease such as cancer, diabetes, liver disorders and oxidative stress (1). One study found that mango has hepatoprotective properties (ability to prevent liver damage) in human hepatocarcinoma cells (cancer cells of the liver). The mango extracts demonstrated significant antioxidant property and efficient scavenging of free radicals. They also protected liver cells from chemical-induced damage (1).
Another study found that the flesh and peel of mango fruit and the bioactive compounds found within these areas of the fruit were effective in inhibiting human breast cancer cell proliferation in vitro (2).
In addition, researchers from Texas A&M University (3) looked into the anticarcinogenic effects of polyphenolics from different mango varieties (Francis, Kent, Ataulfo, Tommy Atkins, and Haden). They studied mango’s effects on cell cancer lines including leukemia, lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer cell lines as well as a non-cancerous colon cell line.
The extracts of all mango varieties exhibited efficient inhibition of cell growth in the colon cancer cell lines, where Ataulfo and Haden demonstrated the greatest antioxidant capacities followed by Kent, Francis and Tommy Atkins. Leukemia cells were most efficiently eradicated by Ataulfo and Haden, followed by breast, lung, and prostate cancer cells in decreasing efficacy.
In fact, Ataulfo inhibited colon cancer cell growth by up to 72%! As well, the growth of non-cancerous colon cancer cells was not inhibited, suggesting that mango can efficiently select and destroy cancerous cells and will not interfere with normal cellular growth.
These mango extracts inhibited cancerous growth mainly due to their ability to increase mRNA expression of pro-apoptotic biomarkers and cell cycle regulators, cell cycle arrest, and by reducing the generation of reactive oxygen species.
Mango’s are excellent for our vision! Why? Mainly because they contain Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency can cause nyctalopia (night blindness), hemeralopia (day-light blindness), xerophthalmia (eyes fail to produce tears), and even blindness itself (4).
The carotenoid pigments in mango, specifically, beta-carotene provides the highest vitamin A activity (5). Haden and Tommy Atkins have lower beta-carotene levels than Palmer and Uba, however they still provide our bodies with the vitamin A we need (regardless of which variety you choose – if you had a choice, I would go for Palmer and Uba, however, the most common mango varieties in store are Tommy Atkins – this also depends on time of year too).
How does vitamin A improve our vision? Vitamin A is a molecule in the retina that helps to transform light energy into nerve impulses inside the retinal matrix. It helps maintain the health and repair of the mucous membranes in the eye, and thus helps protect the cornea and eye surface, and prevents dry eye.
100 grams of mango provides 765mg or 25% of our daily vitamin A! If you ate four mangoes, you would have your daily vitamin A intake at around 100% – and eating four mangoes is incredibly easy – they just taste so amazing, and the benefits you get are incredible.
High in Copper:
Did you know that mangoes are high in copper? Micronutrients such as copper are often paid very little attention even though they have excellent benefits to our health and wellness. Of course, mangoes grown in soils that are more copper rich will contain higher levels of copper, but in general, mangoes do contain sufficient amounts of copper to have an impact on human health.
Copper is essential in supporting many biochemical processes of life such as cellular respiration, utilization and transport of oxygen via the blood, DNA and RNA reproduction, maintaining integrity of cell membranes, and eradicating free radicals via cascading enzyme systems like cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (6) which helps to reduce the risk of cancer and slows the aging process. Red blood cell production is also dependent on the presence of copper.
Improves Sex Life:
Eating mango will provide you with supple amounts of vitamin E – just one cup of mango provides us with over 2mg of vitamin E – multiply this by four cups (which can easily fit in a salad) and you get up to 8mg vitamin E. It is recommended that you consume 15mg of vitamin E daily, so eating mango will ensure you increase your vitamin E levels.
Aside from keeping our skin soft and supple, how does vitamin E help improve one’s sex life? Vitamin E regulates the body’s sex hormones and helps to boost sex drive, all of which increase attraction, mood and desire. Most men and women who get adequate vitamin E levels notice more sexual energy and pleasure when touched and more powerful and frequent orgasms. The root cause of female sexual dysfunction is an excess of estrogen – interestingly, vitamin E (600 to 800 IU daily) helps the woman’s body produce estriol and progesterone which help balance estrogen, and thus bring high estrogen levels back to their normal levels.
Alkalizes the Body:
Acid-producing foods that are highly acidic (such as meat, dairy & eggs, processed foods, coffee, white sugar, and alcohol) can cause the body to not function at its prime state, resulting in disease and illness (7). Numerous studies over the years have correlated acidic environments to perfect cancer-thriving conditions (8, 9, 10), thus is it crucial that we maintain an alkaline state in the body through a diet rich in foods that promote an alkaline effect on the body (namely, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds).
The mango is a perfect example of a fruit that alkalizes the body. It is considered an alkaline-forming food, so that when you eat it, the end products of digestion and nutrient assimilation will result in alkaline ash which gets buffered. Since mango is so alkaline, our buffering system doesn’t need to work as hard as if we ate a steak, which can over burden our buffer systems, and turn to other areas of the body such as our bones to draw upon calcium reserves which can result in osteoporosis. Muscle also has the ability to break down in an acidic body, so that alkalizing amino acids from the muscle can help support our buffer system and bring our pH back to normal levels. This results in muscle wasting.
Thus, consuming alkaline fruits and vegetables (all fruits and vegetables this includes, in fact, the most alkaline is the lemon! The effect it has in the body is the opposite from it’s label – acidic fruits does not mean that they have acidic effects in the body).
Mangoes contain 25 grams of fibre per fruit, which accounts for around 20% of our daily fibre intake. Fibre helps to fill the stomach and intestines and stimulates healthy muscle contractions which moves food smoothly through the GI tract. Fibre absorbs water in the intestine and gathers waste which helps to create smooth and regular bowel movements. It helps to prevent constipation and diarrhea.
Digestive enzymes are crucial for a healthy GI tract – and mangoes contain just that. They contain a similar digestive enzyme as the papaya, called papain, which soothes the digestive tract and helps break down proteins and fats. Mangoes also contain enzymes such as mangiferin, katechol oxidase, and lactase, all of which stimulate our metabolism and purify the intestines.
Plant stanol esters (such as those in the mango) are very efficient in reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They inhibit cholesterol absorption from the intestine in humans. Plant stanol esters at around 2-3 grams per day are efficient in reducing LDL cholesterol by 10-15% (11).
Mangoes are also rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C controls the transformation of cholesterol into bile acids in the liver, and helps reduce cholesterol accumulation in blood serum as well as the liver (12). Vitamin C also works to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease via higher plasma HDL- and HDL2 cholesterol (13), thus it helps to increase our good cholesterol while lowering our bad cholesterol.
Pectin also helps reduce cholesterol levels, and mangoes contain significant amounts of this fibre type. Pectin is a form of soluble fibre and has been shown to provide cholesterol-lowering benefits. One study found that mean serum-cholesterol levels fell significantly when participants consumed up to 36 grams of pectin over a two-week period (14). Pectin can reduce cholesterol levels by preventing glucose absorption in the gut, and thereby prevent blood sugar spikes and elevated triglyceride levels. It’s gel-like consistency also acts as a physical barrier in the intestines to prevent absorption and movement of cholesterol in the GI tract.
Improves Memory & Concentration:
Mangoes contain glutamine which converts into glutamic acid in the brain and becomes an important excitatory neurotransmitter which has numerous benefits for our memory and concentration. Glutamic acid stimulates glutamate receptors in the brain which helps in hippocampal long-term potentiation and memory processing (15). Glutamic acid is also thought to play a role in mental alertness, which is beneficial for children in school who have a hard time concentrating, or for individuals with the inability to concentrate and/or focus on projects/work for long periods of time.
In addition, mango extracts and their antioxidants called mangiferin, have the ability to prevent glutamate-induced excitotoxicity of cerebral cortex neurones (16). In general, mangiferin is a neuroprotector that has therapeutic potential to treat neurogenerative disorders such as dementia which can develop into Alzheimer’s disease.
Mangana Smoothie Recipe:
3 Mangoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
3 Bananas, peeled
1 Cup fresh young thai coconut water
2 sprigs of mint leaves
3-4 stalks of kale (stalks removed, with leaves left over)
Place kale, mint leaves and fresh young thai coconut water into a blender and blend until smooth (it is okay if your blender is not incredibly strong and there are some tiny pieces left over). Next, place in the fruit (mango & banana) and pulse blend (to reduce oxidation) until uniformly mixed. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
(1) Hiraganahalli, B., Chinampudur, V., Dethe, S., Mundkinajeddu, D., Pandre, M., Balachandran, J., & Agarwal, A. (2012) Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of standardized herbal extracts. Pharmacogn Mag., 8, 116-123.
(2) Wilkinson, A., Flanagan, B., Pierson, J., Hewavitharana, A., Dietzgen, R., Shaw, P., Robers-Thomson, S., Monteith, G., & Gidley, M. (2011) Bioactivity of mango flesh and peel extracts on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARy) activation and MCF-7 cell proliferation: fraction and fruit variability. Journal of Food Science, 76, H11-8.
(3) Noratto, G., Bertoldi, M., Krenek, K., Talcott, S., Stringheta, P., & Mertens-Talcott, S. (2010) Anticarcinogenic effects of polyphenolics from mango (Mangifera indica) varieties. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 58, 4104-4112.
(4) Meda, N., Chevalier, P., & Mathieu-Daude, C. (2000) Ocular manifestations associated with vitamin A deficiency in a rural area of Burkina Faso. Med Trop (Mars)., 60, 57-60.
(5) Ribeiro, S., Queiroz, J., Queiroz, M., Campos, F., & Sant’Ana, H. (2007) Antioxidant in mango (Mangifera indica L.) pulp. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 62, 12-17.
(6) Chan, S., Gerson, B., & Subramaniam, S. (1998) The role of copper, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc in nutrition and health. Clinics in Laboratory Medicine, 18, 673-685.
(7) The University of California at San Diego: Acid and Alkaline foods.
(8) Park, H., Lyons, J., Ohtsubo, T., & Song, C. (1999) Acidic environment causes apoptosis by increasing caspase activity. Cancer Research Campaign, 80, 1892-1897.
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(10) Xu, L., & Fidler, I. (2000) Acidic pH-induced elevation in interleukin 8 expression by human ovarian carcinoma cells. Cancer Research, 60, 4610.
(11) Nguyen, T. (1999) The cholesterol-lowering action of plant stanol esters. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, 129, 2109-2112.
(12) Ginter, E. (1973) Cholesterol: vitamin c controls its transformation to bile acids. Science, 179, 702-704.
(13) Hallfrisch, J., Singh, V., Muller, D., Baldwin, H., Bannon, M., & Andres, R. (1994) High plasma vitamin C associated with high plasma HDL- and HDL2 cholesterol. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60, 100-105.
(14) Jenkins, D., Newton, C., Leeds, A., & Cummings, J. (1975) Effect of pectin, guar gum, and wheat fibre on serum-cholesterol. The Lancet, 305, 1116-1117.
(15) Flood, J., Baker, M., & Davis, J. (1990) Modulation of memory processing by glutamic acid receptor agonists and antagonists. Brain Research, 521, 197-202.
(16) Lemus-Molina, Y., Sanchez-Gomez, M., Delgado-Hernandez, R., & Matute, C. (2009) Mangifera indica L. extract attenuates glutamate-induced neurotoxicity on rat cortical neurons. Neurotoxicology, 30, 1053-1058.