Fruit Facts: Mango

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Nutrition
on November 14, 2011

Mangoes are a tasty fruit that can be used in just about anything. The same fruit that makes tasty jams, pie' and muffins can also be used for a savory salsa or meat sauce. As with many such versatile fruits, the desirable qualities in your mangoes will depend on what you intend to do with them, and how quickly they will be consumed. If you’ve ever had poison ivy or poison sumac poisoning, always handle mangoes with food-handler's gloves. The peel of a mango has small amounts of the same active chemical, which is generally not enough to irritate the skin, but anyone who has previously been poisoned may be more susceptible to a reaction.

Picking the right mango. If you're looking for the perfect fruit to eat raw, juice, put into smoothies, or turn into jam or sauce, then you want a mango that's at peak ripeness. Depending on the variety, a ripe mango may be entirely yellow, yellow with a reddish blush, or a rainbow of yellow, red and a small amount of green. The fruit will be firm with a slight give to it, similar to that of a ripe peach. If you want to make savory dishes, especially mango salsa, then you will probably want to use green fruit. These mangoes will generally be a solid or near-solid green, and will be very hard to the touch. Ripe mangoes will keep for about a week at room temperature, longer in the refrigerator, but they should be used quickly. A mango is bad when the flesh is discolored, turning brown or black.

Health benefits. Mangoes are most noted for the vitamin A, vitamin C, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids they contain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, "Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis." Vitamin A is known for its connection to healthy sight, while vitamin C is important for healing and bone health.