Mangos are naturally low in fat and are an excellent source of vitamin C. Just half a mango provide almost 40 percent of a woman's daily vitamin C requirements. They're also a source fibre and potassium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure numbers in check. Orange coloured mangos are well known for their beta-carotene content, an antioxidant nutrient that's linked to a lower risk of certain cancers.
Adults need between 7 and 10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, a target that will be easy to meet when you have a fresh mango on hand. According to Canada's Food Guide, one serving of mango is half of a fruit or half a cup (125 ml), but chances are you won't be able to stop eating once you've enjoyed half!
Nutrition Information per ½ fruit (103 grams):
Fat 0.3 grams
Fibre 2 grams
Beta Carotene 461 micrograms
Vitamin C 29 milligrams
Potassium 161 milligrams
Mangos are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, but today they're grown all over the world in sub-tropical areas, making them available year-round.
There are six major varieties of mangos available in North America, including Ataulfo (grown in Central America), Francine (Haiti), Haden (South America), Keitt (United States), Kent (Central American) and Tommy/Atkins (South America).
Depending on where they're grown, mangos vary in size, shape, colour, texture - and sometimes, even taste.
Mangos are available in sizes that range from 10 to 25 cm long and 7 to 12 cm in diameter - they can weigh up to 2.5 kg (over 5 pounds)! They can also range in shape from oblong, kidney-shaped or round.
Mangos range in colour from green, yellow, orange to red. While a green mango usually indicates it's not ripe, colour is not always the best indicator of ripeness since it varies depending on the where the mango is grown.
Texture also varies between fruits. Some mangos will have a soft and pulpy texture, while others might have a firmer or more fibrous flesh.
Mangos can slightly vary in taste too. Mangos are sweet when ripe, but some fruit may have a slightly acidic tang.
Dried mangos are available in most bulk food stores and gourmet markets - it can be enjoyed on its own can be re-hydrated for use in baked goods and preserves.
Canned mangos are also available in most grocery stores, an alternative if you can't buy fresh.
Choose mangos with unblemished yellow skin blushed with red, and a sweet, fruity scent.
The best way to judge if a mango is ripe is to squeeze it gently. If it's ripe, it should give slightly (like a ripe peach), but not be too soft. A ripe mango will also have a full, fruity aroma.
All mangos have a large oversized seed. Because the mango seed is so oversized, the larger the mango, the higher the fruit-to-seed ratio.
Mangos that aren't ripe should be stored on a table or countertop at room temperature.
To quickly ripen a mango, place it in a paper bag with bananas or apples - these fruits will ripen faster when stored together.
To store a ripe mango, keep it in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process. Frozen mangos can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
The only drawback to preparing mangos, is their long, flat seed - which can make them difficult to prepare.
Here's an easy and quick way to cut and cube a mango:
- You'll notice that a mango has two flat sides and two round sides. Use a paring knife to slice off the flesh on the flat sides, working around the long, flat seed in the middle to make three sections (including the middle section containing the flat seed).
- Pare away the skin in the middle section, and cut the flesh surrounding the seed into bite-sized pieces.
- Take one of the other sections and score the fruit into cubes - cutting to, but not through, the skin.
- Push inward on the skin, turn inside out and push the fruit out (see image above).
- Repeat with other sections.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy:
- What better way to enjoy a fresh mango than on its own? If you want to enhance the flavour even more, try adding a touch of salt or lime juice and chili pepper.
- Mangos contain tenderizing properties, similar to lemons, making them perfect for adding to a marinade recipe.
- Add fresh or frozen mango pieces to a smoothie for a boost of vitamin C.
- Combine spicy and sweet by adding mango to your favourite chutney recipe
- Make your own mango lassi by blending peeled and chopped mango with milk, low fat yogurt and a touch of sugar.
- Add cubed mango to the top of a green salad to add taste and colour.
- For a yummy twist on the traditional mimosa (champagne and orange juice) - try substituting 100% mango juice in place of orange juice.
- Instead of apple crisp - try an exotic variation using banana and mango slices
- Incorporate mango pieces into your favourite salsa recipe to combine spicy and sweet. Try chopped mango, red onion, fresh jalapeno, cilantro and fresh lime juice. Serve with grilled chicken or fish.
- Make your own 100% mango popsicles. Pierce a peeled piece of mango with a popsicle stick and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours, remove and enjoy!
Did you know?
- The mango is in the same family as poison ivy and contains urushiol, a plant-based oil that causes a skin rash on contact, although in much lower concentrations than poison ivy. Some people may get irritated skin from touching mango peel or sap, but can tolerate the fruit with no problems.
- Since 1995, mango consumption has increased by 100 percent in the U.S.
- India remains the world's largest producer of mangos.
- Mangos are often used to decorate the entrance of a household amongst Hindus.