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Mango – Super Food Super Nutrition

Posted by Trudy Prevost on December 25, 2009

 “Sometimes, a Sunday afternoon needs a whole mango to be kept entirely for oneself, and eaten in one sitting.” ~ Allison Pill ~ Actress


Mango season is on!

The Mango (Magnifera indica), also known locally as mangue is a fruit tree native to East Asia and now grown in nearly all tropical areas of the world. Locally its relatives are the Cashew, Hog Plum and Golden Apple. Interestingly it is also related to the Poison Ivy and Poison Oak family as well as Pistachio.

The mango is a powerful and prolific tree that lives long. According to a respected horticulture University in the US “some specimens being known to be 300 years old and still fruiting”.

In Dominica there are many, many, many varieties – each called mango but the size, colour, taste and scent of the fruit are very different even the consistency of the flesh. This valuable tree is an intricate cog in a sustainable future of Dominica.

The ripe mango, half ripe mango, unripe mango, unripe small mango (about torch bulb size), mango kernel or seed (outer husk removed), the skin, the sap, the leaves, the gum, the wood and the bark can all be used.


Juicy, flavourful mangos are a cultural phenomenon in Dominica; people of all ages; all walks of life; gather under these beautiful trees looking for the perfect mango and sometimes savour them right there together. Forever friends over a mango!

Mango trees provide a shaded respite from the heat of the day and we use this cool welcoming environment to fix our cars; make our baskets; play dominoes; do our hair; or take a little quiet pause to ponder.

People born and raised in Dominica fondly remember the mango trees where they played growing up – similar to the way a child raised in a city would remember the playgrounds.

Mango’s hone the wild crafting instincts of the people of this island. In mango season: many a vehicle has a long pole with a net or cloth on the end sticking out the rear so they can pick mangos wherever they go; children stop on the way home to feast on mangos and take a few with them for gifts to the family and elderly neighbors; office workers in suits stop to knock down a delicious mango on the way to work.


Almost everyone in Dominica has climbed a nice big mango tree at least once. Climbing trees improves gross motor skills and strengthens the core and arms and legs while enhancing balance and yes – improving brain function!

Mango gathering exercises our long distance vision. We continually visually scan the environment while passing through to spy the most ripe, delicious mangos.

Mango gathering improves our hand to eye coordination. My husband who was a connoisseur of mangos felt the best mangos are the ones that have not fallen to the ground. After he spies the one he wants he knocks it down by throwing something at the stem that holds it. Then he effortlessly reaches out a cupped hand to catch it!

I have flung many a stone or old mango working to perfect my skills and get that perfect mango – ripe but firm; aromatic; without a bruise or mark. Success is rare but I never give up as I enjoy those mangos a lot more than the ones I get at market!

Gathering mangos improves the physical and mental skills required to play Cricket; Basketball; Rounders; Football and other sports that require throwing or catching, balancing, explosive movements from the ankle or good hand eye coordination.

Gathering mangos may contribute to gross motor skills that ease the transition into reading!


Mango is mentioned in ancient Indian scripts for its great nutritive value. The ripe mango, half ripe mango, unripe mango, young leaves, and seed kernel can be eaten.

The ripe mango fruit is a super food! This nutrient dense fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C; very good source of Vitamin A, a good source of Vitamins B6, K and E and a source of B1, B2, B3, B5 and folate. Mangos contain minerals too – copper, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and potassium.

Ripe mangos are high in pectin and fibre which: is useful in lowering blood cholesterol levels; can help us to feel full without consuming a lot of calories and aids our digestive system.

The tartaric acid, malic acid, and a trace of citric acid found in the fruit help to optimize the PH levels of the body.

In “Plants Against Cancer” Jonathan L Hartwell describes mango as rich in phenols and enzymes with cancer preventative and cancer healing qualities.

Both soft and firm fully ripe mangos have a rich aromatic scent and flavour. They are absolutely delicious eaten from hand: you can cut the sides away and score the flesh into squares perfect for eating out of the skin; you can peel the fruit part way down leaving the flaps of skin attached at the bottom to soak up the juice and somewhat protect the hand or my Marigot friends like to ‘suck’ their soft ripe mangos after rolling them.

Ripe Mangos can be sliced or cubed and used raw as a topping, in juices, fruit dips and fruit or vegetable salads, as well as blended into salad dressings, sauces and smoothies. They can also be frozen to use in your favorite dish later. Blended ripe mangos can be frozen into ice creams, ice pops; popsicles, sherbets, sorbets, pies or cheesecakes. Ripe mangos are delicious boiled into preserves, jams, jellies and toffees; they add a tropical sweet flavour to sweet dishes such as pies, compotes, custards, sauces or puddings and savoury dishes such as soups, rice dishes and stir fries. They are a wonderful first fruit for babies.

Chefs specializing in raw and cooked foods are finding new and unique ways to add ripe mango to their savoury and sweet entrees every day. Just go online and key in raw foods mango or barbeque, mango.

Half ripe mangos are used in most of the ways ripe mangos are; as well as some of the ways unripe mangos are prepared; cook them as a vegetable for a change of taste. This is one of the stages of ripeness most suited to being smoked.

Both fully ripe and half ripe mangos can be dried in slices or made into mango raisins, dried fruit bars or fruit leather.

Unripe fully developed mangoes contain citric acid so they make a refreshing juice that is super high in Vitamin C. They are particularly suitable for chutney, pickles and relish. They add a tart flavour when grated and sprinkled in salads, or added to salad wraps. They add an interesting tartness when used as in a favourite vegetable dish. When dried and lightly salted they make a healthy savory snack.

In India, unripe mangos are sliced, dried, and made into powder for amchoor, a traditional Indian flavouring that smells like honey and has a sour tangy fruity flavour. It is used in fillings, stews and soups, fruit salads and pastries, curries, chutneys, pickles and dals and to tenderize meats, poultry, and fish. It is also added to chutneys and pickles.

The Caribbean is known for its Mango Chutney – each island, restaurant and household has their own unique recipe – the soft ripe, firm ripe, half ripe or green mango can be used. Trinidadian’s add the seed with husk too.

The leaves contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A (carotene), thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid. In Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and other countries the immature mango leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach.

The kernel that remains after the husk of the seed is removed contains protein, amino acids, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and carbohydrates. In India, after soaking to lower tannin levels the kernels are dried and ground to flour which is mixed with other flours to make bread and puddings. The kernels are also roasted or boiled and eaten.

The fat extracted from the kernel is white and solid like cacao butter and is used commercially as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolates.

The peel can be utilized as a source of pectin for jams and jellies.

Mango is a good tenderizer just like papaya or pineapple.


Eating the mango makes the skin soft and healthy but you can also blend ripe mango into facial masks or add it to salt or sugar scrubs. It is said to close pours and feed the skin.

Mango butter (oil from the seed) is widely used as a base ingredient in body care formulas, skin care products, hair care products and soaps. It has many beneficial natural properties: emollient, oxidative, healing, and regenerative (good for scars and stretch marks). It is also said to have a protective effect against UV radiation.

Some cultures use the powder of dried Mango seeds as a tooth paste to strengthen the gums or they place a folded leaf on their toothbrush.

Note: mango flavour is actually a petroleum based chemical added to cosmetics to give them the mango scent.


Mango bark, gum, leaves, flowers, immature and mature fruits, the skin, the kernels and the sap/latex are used in many, many different ways in the traditional medicines of tropical cultures and recent studies support some of these traditions.

The bark contains mangiferine and has been employed against diarrhoea, rheumatism, malaria and diphtheria in India and Africa.  Juice of the fresh mango bark is also considered valuable in heavy bleeding during menstruation and other diseases of female reproductive organs.

The resinous gum from the trunk is traditionally applied on cracks in the skin of the feet and on scabies, and is believed helpful in cases of syphilis.

The tender young leaves are taken as an extract, tea, dried and powdered and in ash form. They are traditionally used alone or in combination with other herbs as a remedy for diarrhea, fever, chest complaints, diabetes, gall and kidney stones, burns, hypertension, after childbirth, headaches and other ills.

Some cultures use dried mango flowers or the juice of the fresh flowers in cases of diarrhea, chronic dysentery and urinary diseases.

The unripe fruit is acidic, astringent and antiscorbutic, a drink made from boiled unripe mango with salt and sugar is used in India as a remedy for heat stroke.

The ripe and half ripe fruit have been used traditionally as a: laxative, diuretic, anti-hemorrhagic (stops bleeding), antiscorbutic (anti-scurvy), astringent, antidiarrhoea, anti-syphilitic & tonic.

It is said that sucking the juice of a ripe Mango that has been roasted on hot sand in a pan eliminates all the bronchial congestion and gives relief in cough.

The very young unripe mango (of about torch bulb size) is claimed to clear stones from the kidneys.

The mango kernel tea and powder are used as a vermifuge (to get rid of parasites) and as astringents in diarrhea, hemorrhages, bleeding hemorrhoids and certain disorders connected with women’s reproductive system. It is thought to be a safe contraceptive.

The mango kernel fat is administered in cases of stomatitis.

The skin of the fruit is astringent. In India the fried skin of the unripe fruit is given with sugar in menses disturbances; its powder is given with milk and honey for bleeding dysentery and as a tonic for the digestive organs.

The latex contains mangiferen, resinous acid, mangiferic acid, and the resinol, mangiferol. It has been used traditionally for rheumatism, diphtheria, syphilis and a dressing for scabies and other skin diseases such as cracked feet.

A paste of Mango roots applied on palms and soles is thought to lower fever.

In India drinking mango juice and Jamun juice in equal proportions is used to controll diabetes.


Mango trees: prevent erosion; shade and cool the environment; clean and oxygenate the air; provide food and medicine as well as furniture and fuel.

The fat is great for soap-making because of its high stearic acid content.

The bark possesses 16% to 20% tannin and has been used for tanning hides and it yields a yellow dye or when blended with turmeric and lime, a bright rose-pink.

The red-brown gum from the trunk is used for mending crockery in tropical Africa. In India, it is sold as a substitute for gum arabic.

Mango wood is an ecologically friendly, easily renewable choice of wood. When seasoned in salt water and kiln dried it is coarse-textured, medium-strong, hard, durable even in water, easy to work with and finishes well.  It exhibits colour variations unlike any other wood: from a multitude of browns, to shades of yellow and cutting the wood in various directions reveals different grain textures which resemble that of mahogany, oak, teak and other types of trees. The timber is used for boats, flooring, furniture and other applications.


The latex of the mango tree as well as all the parts of the tree and fruit, especially peel, contain mangiferen, resinous acid, mangiferic acid, and the resinol, mangiferol; it can be a severe irritant for some people, with typically delayed reaction, like with Poison Ivy; some people may react with considerable swelling of eyelids, face, and other parts of body; a condition referred to as “mango poisoning”.

Mango wood is commonly used as firewood in Dominica and throughout the Caribbean but the burning of mango wood, leaves and debris can cause serious irritation to eyes and lungs of those susceptible to its oils.


There are over 500 studies published on the therapeutic use of mangiferon and mangos. 4 studies were released in the last 2 months alone!

Just a few of the studies are listed below.

A University of Florida study indicates mangoes can be added to the arsenal of foods known to help fight cancer. “We think mangoes have some unique antioxidants as well as quantities of antioxidants that might not be found in other fruits and vegetables,” said Percival, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences who conducted the study.

The Laboratory of Pharmacology, Center for Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Atabey, Havana City, Cuba observed significant anti-tumour effects of glucosylxanthone mangiferin and indanone gallic acid both components of standardized extracts of mango bark in the highly aggressive and metastatic breast cancer cell type MDA-MB231. They have also found M. indica extract and mangiferin produced a marked reduction of airway inflammation around vessels and bronchi, inhibition of IL-4 and IL-5 cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lymphocyte culture supernatant, IgE levels and lymphocyte proliferation.

The results of studies from the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa lend pharmacological credence to the suggested folkloric uses of the mango in the management and control of painful, arthritic and other inflammatory conditions, as well as in the management of adult-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus in some rural African communities.

A University of Florida study released in February 2001 indicates mango fruits: – can help to prevent colon cancer, especially in cases where there is a lack of fibre in the diet.

Another University study analyzing how individual components of the fruit affect human cells suggests mango components act on the same pathways that diabetes and cholesterol drugs target.

Other studies have shown magniferin has an effect against herpes simplex 2 and that extracts of unripe fruits and of bark, stems and leaves have shown antibiotic activity.

A Brazilian Study showed that mangiferon is one of the best potential sources of therapeutic agents against Alzheimer’s Disease.

A review of mango studies was published in May 2017 in an attempt to explain the therapeutic potential of mangiferin, a bioactive compound of the mango, against lifestyle-related disorders. The scientists found that: Mangiferin possesses several health endorsing properties such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antiallergic, anticancer, hypocholesterolemic, and immunomodulatory. It suppresses the activation of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor isoforms by changing the transcription process. Mangiferin protects against different human cancers, including lung, colon, breast, and neuronal cancers, through the suppression of tumor necrosis factor α expression, inducible nitric oxide synthase potential, and proliferation and induction of apoptosis. It also protects against neural and breast cancers by suppressing the expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and MMP-7 and inhibiting enzymatic activity, metastatic potential, and activation of the β-catenin pathway. It has the capacity to block lipid peroxidation, in order to provide a shielding effect against physiological threats. Additionally, mangiferin enhances the capacity of the monocyte-macrophage system and possesses antibacterial activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.


  1. India is the largest producer of mangos worldwide but they love their mangos so much only 1 percent of what they grow is eaten outside of India!
  2. The B 6 content of mangos promotes the release of serotonin which promotes feelings of well-being – maybe that is why they are the most popular fruit in the world!
  3. There are over 1,000 different varieties of mangos throughout the world.
  4. The Food Research Institute of the Canada Department of Agriculture has developed methods of preserving ripe or green mango slices by osmotic dehydration.
  5. In Thailand, green-skinned mangos of a class called “keo” are soaked whole for 15 days in salted water before peeling, slicing and serving with sugar.
  6. Mango juice may be spray-dried and powdered and used in infant and invalid foods, or reconstituted and drunk as a beverage. The dried juice, blended with wheat flour has been made into “cereal” flakes.
  7. Mexicans like to eat their mangos like lollipops with a utensil called a mango fork.
  8. East Indians believe taking Mango pulp mixed in milk or drinking milk after eating Mango imparts energy, strength and vigour to the body.
  9. The mycrene turpentine in mangos are said to make the euphoria of marijuana start quicker and last longer!

Eat Mindfully! Eat Healthy! Eat Sustainably! Eat Local! Eat Mangos!

This information is provided for general interest only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use.


2 Responses to “Mango – Super Food Super Nutrition”

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