Originally from South Asia, mangoes are now one of the most cultivated fruits in tropical regions. In recent years, the potential health benefits of mangoes have been widely investigated.
There are a number of varieties of mango, all of which belong to the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. Globally, India grows the most mangoes, producing more than 18 million tons per year.
Mangoes contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, A, E, K, and a range of B vitamins. Other constituents include polyphenols, triterpene, and lupeol, which can benefit our health by providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
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Fast facts on mangoes
Here are some key points about mangoes. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Some evidence suggests that mango consumption can help regulate blood sugar
- Mangoes contain a range of vitamins, including B vitamins
- In South Asia, mangoes have been cultivated for thousands of years
- Mangoes are relatively high in carbohydrate
Mangoes and cholesterol
Mangoes are delicious, nutritious, and might lower cholesterol.
Currently, an estimated 73.5 million Americans have high cholesterol levels. Because of the huge number of people at risk, any simple dietary changes that might help reduce this figure are likely to be investigated.
A study, published in The British Journal of Nutrition in 2011, looked at the effect of mangoes on cholesterol levels in mice.
The mice were fed a high-fat diet either with or without the addition of freeze-dried mangoes. The team measured the mice's fat content, blood sugar levels, and lipid profile - a measure of the types of fat in the blood.
Other mice, instead of receiving mango, were given a hypolipidemic drug - fenofibrate, which lowers lipid levels, or a hypoglycemic drug - rosiglitazone, which reduces sugar in the blood.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the mice which had been fed mango had a lower percentage of body fat, lower blood cholesterol levels, and lower blood sugar levels.
The effect of the mango was similar in size to the effects produced by the drugs.
Mangoes and blood sugar regulation
A high blood glucose level is a sign of diabetes. For this reason, monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels is important.
The study above shows the positive effect of mangoes on blood sugar levels in mice; a study, published in Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, extends these findings to obese humans.
The study used twenty obese individuals; each was given 10 grams of ground freeze-dried mango pulp per day for 12 weeks. The researchers concluded that blood glucose levels were reduced in both males and females who consumed the mango.
In the male participants, hip circumference was reduced, but there were no significant changes in body weight or composition.
The authors conclude:
"Our findings indicate that regular consumption of freeze-dried mango by obese individuals does not negatively impact body weight but provides a positive effect on fasting blood glucose."
Because the trial only used a small number of participants, studies using more people will be necessary before the conclusions can be set in stone.
No one yet knows how mangoes lower blood glucose levels. Some scientists believe that they might stimulate pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin, which then lowers blood glucose levels.
Obesity and mangoes
Obesity affects more than 1 in 3 Americans; it raises the chance of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Medical science is approaching this growing problem from all possible angles; some researchers have investigated the potential of mango to help reduce obesity.
No studies, to date, have shown any weight-loss in humans from consuming mango. The study above showed a drop in hip circumference for men only, but overall body fat and weight was not significantly affected.
However, recent findings, presented at the Experimental Biology 2016 Meeting, provide hope that mangoes might be useful in the fight against obesity.
The team looked at how mango affects fat cells in the laboratory. Mangoes contain a range of chemicals known as polyphenols. These include mangiferin, catechins, quercetin, and kaempferol. They found that some of these polyphenols reduced fat cell's ability to multiply.
Although the research will need to be duplicated in humans, the authors are confident of the results, concluding:
"These results suggest that a diet abundant in mango might be helpful in the prevention of obesity and obesity-related diseases."
Mangoes and prediabetes
Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the United States. Prediabetes refers to an individual who has a higher glucose level than normal, but not high enough to be classed as diabetes.
People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. A recent study investigated the effects of dietary mango on the reduction of blood sugar in prediabetics.
Participants were given 10 grams of freeze-dried mango for 12 weeks. According to the authors, the results from the mango group showed "decreased blood glucose and increased insulin levels" when compared with the control group who did not eat mango.
Everything in moderation, even mango
Although mango is nutritionally rich, everything should be eaten in moderation. Mangoes are relatively high in carbohydrate and, for someone who is watching their weight or glucose levels, they should be eaten as part of a calorie controlled diet.
It is also worth noting, anyone with a latex allergy should use caution. Mango is considered a cross-reactive food with the latex-fruit syndrome, a condition where individuals who are allergic to latex also have a response to certain fruits.
In conclusion, adding mangoes to a healthy diet could be beneficial for blood sugar, lipid levels, and possibly obesity. However, further research is needed to solidify these findings.