Mad About Mangoes

This sweet fruit is packed with plenty of nutrients that benefit your body and mind—it’s no wonder Buddhist monks shared it with the world.
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As a beloved Chinese proverb reminds us: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For the mighty mango, its worldwide journey began with the single step of a Buddhist monk, way back in 5th century B.C. Despite being native to eastern India, mangoes found their way to Asia when monks took them along on their voyages out of the country. In a case of “divine intervention,” the fruit and its seeds traveled from country to country, until finally arriving in America during the early 19th century. The rest, as they say, is history!

Although mangoes grow in both Florida and California, apparently, we can’t get enough of the sweet fruit. The United States is the world’s biggest importer of mangoes—in 2010, we brought in more 300,000 tons of them. (While it seems like a lot, that same year, the U.S. imported more than 4 million tons of bananas.)

Power Up
Mangoes are packed with so many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients, they rank up there as a superfood, credited with everything from curing acne to helping those with diabetes by normalizing insulin levels, and guarding against certain cancers.

Remember the severity of the recent flu season? Well, a cup of mango goes a long way toward meeting our daily requirements of vitamin C, vitamin A and 25 different varieties of carotenoid, which together make a powerful team for fighting off colds and the like with a stronger immune system

Mangoes also have what it takes to promote good vision (vitamin A), improve digestion (certain enzymes), lower bad cholesterol (fiber, pectin and vitamin C) and act as a natural aphrodisiac.

With summer approaching, many want to shed some pounds—well, here again the mango is a friend. One cup of mango is 105 calories and packed with probiotic fiber, which helps to make the body feel full. This means you’re likely to eat less and look great in that swimsuit— need we say more!

Don’t judge a book (or mango) by its cover. Though color is the first feature that might attract you, it’s not the best indication of this fruit’s ripeness. If your mango is ripe, it will give off a sweet scent at its end and will have a slight squish to it when gently squeezed. You can pick up a few unripe mangoes at the store and let them sit in a bowl on the counter for a few days until they’re to your liking. The fruit ripens much like an avocado does, and if you won’t be eating them right away, feel free to store them in the fridge.

Once you have a ripe mango, get creative. This is one versatile fruit—certainly, you can eat it raw, but you can experience mangoes in so many other ways—mixing it up in a salsa, serving it in a smoothie or giving the kids a healthy alternative to potato chips: mango chips. It also stands out as a marinade to keep your fish or meat tender.

Although there are close to 1,000 varieties of mangoes grown around the world, you’ll only find about six in the United States. Don’t let our small selection fool you: the flavors of the creamy Ataulfo and sweet and spicy Francis varieties will more than satisfy. Because mangoes are grown and harvested around the world then exported to the U.S., you’ll find them in your supermarket all year long.

Did You Know?
Mangoes are said to influence other parts of everyday culture, for example, their shape inspired the popular paisley pattern—you’re welcome, Vera Bradley—and mango leaves are also used at weddings to ensure the couple bears many children, plus the fruit itself is a symbol of friendship.

Some believe that mangoes can also grant wishes. The fact that the oldest mango tree in the world is more than 300 years old might be magical enough, especially since it still produces edible fruit. Buddha himself is said to have meditated under a mango tree. Perhaps that’s why he had such a sweet outlook on life. 

Categories: Bergen Health & Life, Homepage Features