Are Mangoes Good for You?
Intensely sweet and juicy, here’s the nutrition scoop on this tropical fruit
Mangoes are the national fruit of India. In Mexico, the average person eats 30 pounds of them per year. But in the U.S., mangoes are overshadowed by many other fruits—apples, bananas, strawberries, and even fresh pineapple. People may overlook mangoes because they’re not quite sure how to cut one or what to do with them. Given the nutritional benefits, and lush flavor, it may be time to give mangoes a try.
Rich, tropical flavor aside, part of what makes mangoes a good pick is the combination of nutrients in the fruit.
One cup of fresh mango pieces is an excellent source of vitamin C—supplying more than half the daily value—which is essential for tissue growth and repair throughout the body, as well as more than 15 percent of the folate daily value, which is critical for immune function, and brain and spinal cord development in unborn babies. It also provides 20 percent of the daily value for copper, a key mineral that cells use to produce energy and that’s important for red blood cell formation.
Choosing and Cutting a Mango
Though you may be tempted to use color as a guide, color is often a characteristic of the mango variety, not ripeness. Instead, rely on the way it feels and smells. Without poking it, gently squeeze the mango to check for a slight give and check for a fresh sweet aroma. This is your green light that the mango is ripe and ready to eat. But remember, mangoes continue to ripen at room temperature. If you buy firm mangoes, place the fruit in a paper bag to speed up ripening. Once ripe, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Though the oval shape and slippery flesh can make getting all of that luscious pulp an adventure, slicing a mango might be easier than you think. The key is to cut around the flat seed. Here’s how:
• Wash and dry the mango. Stand it on a cutting board with the stem end pointing up.
• Place the knife just off-center from the tip of the stem end. Slice down, cutting as close to the seed as possible to remove one rounded half (or cheek). Repeat on the other side.
• With the cut side up and taking care not to cut through the skin, slice the mango flesh into strips or cubes using a grid-like pattern. Use a spoon to scoop out the cubes.
There will be some mango flesh left in the section surrounding the seed. Don’t waste it—though it may not cut into even-sized pieces, the fruit is no less delicious.
No fresh mango available? Frozen mango is already cut—perfect for tossing into smoothies or yogurt.
Savory or Sweet?
Though eating mango straight as a snack is a given, indulge in its versatility from sweet to savory. Try mango sweet paired with coconut sticky rice. For a spicy option, combine it with serrano chilies in a salsa that you can spoon over grilled fish or stack on guacamole for a creamy, sweet-and-spicy layered dip.
Though she loves sipping on mango lassi, a traditional Indian smoothie made with ripe mango and yogurt, Sheth also suggests adding mango to savory dishes such as salsa, rice pilaf, or grilled chicken kabobs. And adding grilled mango to a small bowl of vanilla ice cream can make your dessert healthier and tastier.