By Dr. Mercola
Most people have never tasted a locally grown healthy mango. They are completely different than those purchased in most grocery stores. So unless you have tried a fresh locally grown one please reserve your opinion on whether you like them.
I have been living in Florida for about four years and now have nearly two dozen mango tress and last year harvested nearly 100 mangoes. I never knew how delicious a mango could be.
The reason they taste so good is that they are loaded with sugar. If you are burning sugar, not fat, as your primary fuel then you are best advised to severely limit mangoes, as they will just worsen your metabolic health.
You can view previous articles on how to transition your body to burn fat for fuel or pick up my new book in May on the same topic. Once you can effectively burn fat as your primary fuel then mangoes can be a dietary staple.
Mangoes With Chili Powder, Salt and Lime
A combination of mouth-watering but contrasting flavors is often a recipe for something really tasty. One example is the seemingly diametric combination of sweet, juicy mangoes, chili powder and lime juice — sweet, hot and sour. It's scrumptious.
Besides tasting fantastic, each one of these ingredients imparts its own singular health benefits to make the finished product much more than just a savory-sweet snack.
A simple Mango with Chili Powder1 recipe is surprisingly versatile and lovely with slices of raw grass-fed, sharp cheddar cheese. Similar to salsa in consistency, it combines:
- 2 cups chopped or sliced ripe mango
- 2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
Or, if you prefer the natural sourness of a raw, unripe mango paired with the heat from the chili powder, skip the lime juice. You may be surprised at the intensity of flavor of an unripe mango, not to mention its firmness.
If you're lucky enough to live in a warm area where mangoes proliferate, such as California or Florida, you can grow mangoes yourself. They grow well in loose, well-drained soil so that their extensive root system can spread out.
Mango trees require frost protection; anything under 40 degrees F can cause damage. About 100 to 150 days after flowering, the fruit will appear.2 One mango tree can produce 1,000 or more fruits a year and keep producing for 40 years or more. They grow fast to up to 45 feet tall and can spread as wide as 50 feet.
To Cut a Mango (Correctly) or Not to Cut a Mango (Correctly)
While it's a mango no matter how you slice it, there are ways to make it much less labor intensive and save the most fruit possible. To slice a ripe mango, you want to wash it first. Then, according to mango.org:3
- Look on the surface for the "eye," a small dimple that indicates where the large, flat seed is. With the eye "looking" up at you, use your knife to cut the mango into two pieces, one-quarter inch off the center of the eye.
- Turn the mango to the opposite side of the eye and cut that side as well, as close to the seed as possible, so you're left with one thick slice of the center, containing both the seed and stem.
- The mango "cheeks" you cut off the end can be carefully sliced by scoring them in parallel lines, through the flesh but not the skin, for spears. Use a spoon to scoop them out.
- For diced mangoes, use the same method, only scoring the halves in both directions for a checkerboard pattern, then scooping the pieces into a dish.
- The remainder of the mango can be sliced in much the same way, avoiding the seed, but following its curve to use as much of the fruit as possible.
Ripe Mangoes Are Good; Unripe Mangoes Are Too
There's a reason why the Mangifera indica is known as the "king of fruits." Besides being delicious, it's uncommonly good for you. Related to pistachios and cashews, it contains a single, large "stone" in the center, making it a drupe.
First cultivated in India several centuries ago, how long the mango season will last depends on where they're grown, but they're available year-round in many U.S. supermarkets.
Like many other fruits, there are two main varieties: one from India, with a bright yellow or red color, and the other from the Philippines and Southeast Asia, which is pale to medium green. Many raw mangoes are green, but because some varieties are purple, red or even orange, firmness is a better way to tell.
You'll know it's ripe when you gently hold it in your hand and press your thumb against the flesh. If it gives easily, it's sweeter.
If you get one that's not quite ripe, you can set it on the counter for a few days to ripen it up, or put it in a brown bag with an apple, which releases ethylene to help it ripen faster. Check it often, though; it may surprise you how quickly this process can occur. Dice and freeze to avoid wasting any of it.
Mangoes contain a lot of vitamin C as well as offering B vitamins. In fact, they contain more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. Why raw mangoes are sour has to do with the citric, succinic and maleic acid content, also found in apple cider vinegar.
Raw mangoes also contain pectin, a common polysaccharide found in several other fruits, which is used to make medicine, especially for people with high triglyceride levels, but also for cancer prevention. Unripe mango has more potassium than a ripe one, helping your body fluids control your heart rate and blood pressure.4
Flavor Amalgamation, Extraordinary Nutrition
One of the most popular features of ripe mangoes is, of course, how sweet they are, but surprisingly, they don't raise your glucose index. Part of their anti-cancer qualities is their natural antioxidant content. Organic Facts notes:
"Mango is rich in fiber, so if you have at least one mango every day in your diet, you are almost guaranteed to prevent constipation, piles and symptoms of a spastic colon …The vitamin E content in mangoes can even help to boost your sex life by triggering the activity of your sex hormones.
The tonic made from mangoes in Chinese herbal medicine is known as yin tonic, and it is used to treat bleeding gums, anemia, cough, constipation, nausea, fever, sea sickness and as a cure for weak digestion."5
Mangoes are rich in beta-carotene and lycopene, a carotenoid that helps protect your cells from damage and suppresses tumor growth.6 University of Portsmouth researchers looked at the ability of lycopene to slow breast and prostate cancer growth by interrupting the pathways that tend to promote tumor growth.7
In another study of 46,000 men, a link between high lycopene intake and a decreased prostate cancer risk was found.8 In another study, lycopene stunted the growth of malignant tumors known as renal cell carcinoma.9
Chili Powder Contains Capsaicin, a Natural Inflammation Inhibitor
You can get additional benefits by combining your mango with chili powder, which has a powerful essence with its own unique set of benefits. In fact, the heat in this spicy food hints at its main health advantage: capsaicin. The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit online resource for healthy cooking and eating, noted:
"Capsaicin is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes. The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hottest varieties include habanero and Scotch bonnet peppers.
Jalapenos are next in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers. Capsaicin is being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy."10
Some of the main health benefits provided by chili peppers is that they help:
✓ Fight inflammation
✓ Offer natural pain relief
✓ Help clear congestion
✓ Ease osteoarthritis pain
✓ Prevent stomach ulcers
✓ Promote heart health
✓ Boost immunity
Chili peppers help relieve diabetic neuropathy and have proven to decrease triglyceride levels and platelet aggregation, and help your body break down fibrin, an important substance for forming blood clots.
What Do Limes and Himalayan Salt Bring to the Table?
Adding limes and Himalayan salt to your mangoes is another healthy twist. Limes impart a unique zest to whatever they're added to, even if it's just a glass of water. Much more than preventing scurvy, due to the high vitamin C content, limes contain antioxidants, which help fight the free radicals that threaten your system each day, as well as colds and flu.
In fact, a single lime provides 32 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) (what you need of this vitamin for one day) of vitamin C.11 Vitamin C can also help reduce arthritis symptoms, atherosclerosis, and lower incidences of strokes, diabetic heart disease and cancer. In relation to diabetes, limes and other citrus fruits:
"Are considered a diabetes super food for a number of reasons. Mainly, the high levels of soluble fiber found in limes make it an ideal dietary aid to help regulate the body's absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, reducing the occurrence of blood sugar spikes that are a serious risk to diabetic patients.
Also, limes and other citrus fruits have a low glycemic index, which means that they will not cause unexpected spikes in glucose levels."12
Further, the fiber in limes can help prevent constipation, but the acids also help in this regard. Adding salt to the equation, particularly Himalayan salt, is especially beneficial, as Organic Facts notes that the combination helps act as an "excellent purgative," but without side effects.
Processed salt like the kind that usually comes in a round, blue box, is made up of more than 97 percent sodium chloride, 2.5 percent chemicals, such as something to absorb moisture so it will flow freely, and iodine. Because it's dried at high heat, the very nature of its essence is diminished.
Himalayan salt, on the other hand, contains about 84 percent sodium chloride, of which just under 37 percent is pure sodium. Aside from that, salt is not the heart destroyer most doctors have made it out to be. In fact, the tide is turning in the salt debate, and people who've been avoiding it need to understand that salt is necessary to good health.
And Now for Something Completely Different
For a delectable, easy and completely distinctive snack or hors d'oeuvre, you can create your own mix of chili flakes, lime zest and sea salt, maybe with the added benefit of lime juice drizzled on top. With this bright, taste-bud-zinging combination, all you need are the mango slices, a selection of veggies or another tropical fruit to dip into it.