The king of the fruits," mango fruit is one of the most popular, nutritionally rich fruits with unique flavor, fragrance, taste, and heath promoting qualities, making it numero-uno among new functional foods, often labeled as “super fruits."
Mango is one of the delicious seasonal fruits grown in the tropics. The tree is believed to be originating in the sub-Himalayan plains of Indian subcontinent. Botanically, this exotic fruit belongs within the family ofAnacardiaceae, a family that also includes numerous species of tropical-fruiting trees in the flowering plants such as cashew, pistachio,...etc.
Mango is a tropical tree cultivated in many regions of India, and now its farming distributed wide across the world in many continents. Usually, fruits grow at the end of a long, string like stem, with sometimes more than one fruit to a stem.
Each fruit measures 5 to 15 cms in length and about 4 to 10 cms in width, and has typical “mango” shape, or sometimes oval or round. Its weight ranges from 150 gm to around 750 gm. Outer skin is smooth and is green in un-ripe mangoes but turns into golden yellow, crimson red, yellow or orange-red when ripen depending upon the cultivar type. Fresh mango season lasts from April until August.
Mango comes in different shapes and sizes depending upon cultivar types. Internally, its flesh is juicy, orange-yellow in color with numerous soft fibrils radiating from its centrally placed flat, oval-shaped stone (enveloping a single large kidney-shaped seed). Its flavor is pleasant and rich, and tastes sweet with mild tartness. A high-quality mango fruit should feature no or very less fiber content and minimal sour taste. Mango seed (stone) may either has a single embryo, or sometimes polyembryonic.
Health benefits of Mangoes
Mango fruit is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds.
According to new research study, mango fruit has been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers. Several trial studies suggest that polyphenolic anti-oxidant compounds in mango are known to offer protection against breast and colon cancers.
Mango fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin-A and flavonoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, andbeta-cryptoxanthin. 100 g of fresh fruit provides 765 IU or 25% of recommended daily levels of vitamin-A. Together; these compounds have been known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in carotenes is known to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100 g fruit provides 156 mg of potassium while just 2 mg of sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
It is also a very good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin-C and vitamin-E. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. Vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine is required for GABA hormone production within the brain. It also controls homocystiene levels within the blood, which may otherwise be harmful to blood vessels resulting in CAD, and stroke.
Further, it composes moderate amounts of copper. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells.
Additionally, mango peel is also rich in phytonutrients, such as the pigment antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols.
Selection and storage
Mangoes are seasonal fruits; fresh mango fruit season begins in the month of March end, when the rich fragrance heralds its arrival in the markets.
Mangoes usually harvested while they are green but perfectly mature. Un-ripe ones are extremely sour in taste. Organic mangoes are left to ripe on the tree; however, over-ripe fruits fall off from the tree and tend to be spoiled.
In the store, mangoes come in various sizes and colors; therefore, select the one based on the serving size and variety of fruit you love to devour. “Alphanso” variety from India (Maharashtra state) and “sindhuri" (kesar) varieties from Pakistan are known for their uniqueness. Totapuri mangoes feature parrot-beak shape tips, smooth shiny and come in attractive green-yellow or orange colors. Totapuri types are best eaten raw, or while just short of full-ripe stage. The pulp features a mix of sweet and tart taste with special mint or clove-like flavors depending on the cultivars. Several US cultivars such as Hayden, and hybrids are equally popular.
Choose ones with intact skin without any bruises or cuts. Unripe mangoes can be kept at room temperature for few days, and to ripen, keep them in paper covers. Ripe fruits should be stored in the refrigerator but never below 10° F (50°C). Bring back to normal temperature when the fruit is to be eaten to get the natural taste and flavor.
Preparation and serving method
Wash mangoes in cold running water in order to remove dust and any surface pesticide residue. Mop dry its outer skin using a soft cloth. Mango fruit should be eaten all alone without any additions to experience its rich flavor.
Cut the fruit lengthwise into three pieces in such a way that the middle portion consists of husky seed. Then, slice through the skin to separate the skin from the pulp. Chop pulp into desired sections.
Alternatively, using a sharp knife, cut through the flesh on either side of the central seed. This way, you get two big haves of a mango fruit. Then, take one-half and score the flesh in a horizontal and vertical pattern taking care not to cut deep through skin. Invert the whole half to push out the cubes as shown in the picture: