Mangoes are good for health, but don’t eat too many

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Mangalore, May 11: When consuming your favourite fruit is forbidden by your doctor or dietician, it is time to find out why rather than trying to have more of it on the sly. Conventional diet advice for weight watchers and diabetics puts mangoes in the red list, and not without reason. Keeping scientific information about mangoes in mind, recommendations about the fruit warrant a re-look. This is because of its impact on body weight, blood sugar and health.

It’s true that ripe mangoes are high in carbohydrates, sugars and have a high glycemic index. One of the seventh most popular fruits worldwide, it provides roughly 80 kilocalories per 100 g (a medium-sized ripe mango would carry about 130-150 calories), which mainly come from carbohydrates (20 per cent).

Due to high sugar content, mangoes are high in calories. But does this mean that diabetics and weight watchers should be banned from having it? The answer is no, if one adjusts for calories, i.e. substitutes it with an equivalent amount of calories and carbohydrates in the meal.

Better still, combine it with a low-glycemic food. This could mean substitution of the carbohydrate in the grain or staple (bread, rice, chapati, etc). Low glycemic foods include pulses, legumes, low-fat dairy (milk, curd), vegetables, nuts and seeds. In fact, the glycemic load (a useful measure of the ability of a food to spike blood sugar and insulin levels) of mangoes is low-medium, specially compared to bananas and potatoes. So mangoes can make a safe entry into the diet, if one is able to keep the caloric intake and carbohydrates constant, i.e. take the right amounts. With over 2,500 varieties around the world, the popularity of mangoes clearly lies in its aromatic sweetness. This tropical fruit also can boast of a huge array of impressive health benefits.

The mango is known to be an excellent source of many vitamins such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid), B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin), and Vitamin A (ß-carotene). Mangoes are also high in non-nutrient phytochemical compounds. Reports suggest that the phytochemical content of mango pulp consists of gallic acid, mangiferin, quercetin and many types of tannin. Ripe mangoes generally possess a higher number of phenolics, researchers say. This makes mangoes a good source of antioxidants with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. With reasonably good fibre content, it provides a good combination of soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is good for digestion and its insoluble variant is good for management of blood cholesterol and sugar levels.

Being a tropical fruit, research on mangoes is still not extensive and perhaps, in years to come, more health benefits would be revealed.

But before you start planning a mango party, there is need for caution. Remember that mangoes, being high on sugars, predominantly fructose, should be consumed in appropriate portions. This is true particularly for weight watchers, diabetics and those with high cholesterol levels.


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