THE mango, commonly found in the Northeast, has an important economic contribution to Brazil, one of the largest producers and exporters of the fruit. However, the relevance of the mango is not just financial — the fruit has an extensive amount of health benefits.
According to nutritionist Jamile Tahim*, mango has a nutritional contribution rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and energy value, in addition to a taste that can please many palates.
The set of qualities may be the reason why the fruit is one of the most sought after in the world, as pointed out by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (embrapa).
The mango is the fruit of the mango tree (Mangifera indica L., belonging to the Anarcadiaceae family), popularly known as “mango tree”. Originally from Southeast Asia, the fruit is found in all Brazilian regions.
According to the book “Manga: the producer asks, Embrapa responds”, organized by the public institution, mango arrived in Brazil by the Portuguese, in the 16th century, making the country the first to cultivate it in the Americas.
Jamile Tahim mentions that the northeastern territory concentrates the largest share of fruit production: the region alone has 77.3%, according to the 2019 Municipal Agricultural Production Census, by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Then, the fruit is produced in the Southeast (21.8%), in the South (0.5%), in the Center-West (0.3%) and in the North (0.1%).
In Brazil, several types of mango can be found, says the nutritionist. The main ones, according to her, are: Alphonso, Bourbon, Carlota, Espada, Oxheart, Golden Nuggets, Ruby, Haden, Keitt, Kent, Rosa, Sensation and Tommy Atkins.
Each variety, Tahim points out, is related to a different presentation of the fruit, whose color and size can be different between the types.
In general, the fruit has shape rounded — it can be elongated —, colors ranging from green, yellow, orange and pink, and it can be more or less fibrous. Also, the size of the fruit can vary.
Despite the differences, all mango varieties have aspects in common: the fruit has a fleshy, soft and succulent pulp of sweet taste, with a commonly large, fibrous lump at its center.
The fruit, says the nutritionist, is an important source of vitamins A, E and C, as well as B complex vitamins, such as B1, B2, B3 and B6. There is also a vast amount of bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids, and fiber.
About minerals, mango is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, essential for cardiovascular health, maintenance of the body’s immunity, muscle contraction and prevention of anemia.
Jamile Tahim points out that the entire nutritional set of mango boosts the immune system. However, consumption of the fruit predisposes other benefits.
Helps with eye and skin health
The vitamins found in the fruit are essential for the health of the eyes, being important in the prevention of eye diseases such as night blindness and cataracts.
Furthermore, these nutrients contribute to the health of the skin and hair, influencing the modulation of immunity and antioxidant activity, which reduces the action of free radicals, related to several chronic diseases.
The activity can also rely on other properties of the fruit, which has a vast amount of bioactive compounds, especially carotenoids. These also prevent premature aging.
Regulates bowel function
The large amount of fiber in the fruit helps to regulate bowel function, as it contributes to the formation of fecal bolus and evacuation of feces. This, however, needs to be associated with adequate hydration and combating sedentary lifestyles.
Improves cardiovascular health and glycemic control
The regular consumption of fiber does not only benefit intestinal activity: according to the nutritionist, consumption causes improvements in the lipid profile, which favors adequate levels of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. Nutrients also help control blood sugar.
The antioxidant effects of bioactive compounds, vitamins and minerals in mangoes also support cardiovascular health.
This set of benefits is valuable to many people, which leads to the consumption of the fruit despite the myths surrounding it.
Diabetics can eat mango
One of the myths surrounding the fruit says that it should not be consumed by diabetics, which is contradicted by the professional. “The ‘sugar’ present in fruits is called fructose and is not harmful to patients with diabetes or anyone else, highlights the professional, with the proviso that the intake is in the usual amounts of consumption.
Under these conditions, with varied and balanced consumption, the fruit is innocuous to the health of consumers. Also, the amount of fibers and polyphenols present in the mango can favor glycemic control, according to the nutritionist.
To expand this control, Jamile’s suggestion is to combine the consumption of sleeve with other fibers, grains and seeds such as oats, chia and flaxseed.
Pregnant women can eat mango
The fruit can be consumed by both pregnant and lactating women, according to the nutritionist, who emphasizes beta-carotene as important in the health of mother and baby. The pregnant or postpartum woman, however, should not have allergy or sensitivity to the fruit, which is contraindicated in these cases.
Tahim stresses that, although the consumption of nutrients is important, it is necessary that consumption is guided by a nutritionist — the professional will assess the amount of fruit according to the individual needs of each woman.
Is green mango bad?
At the heart of another very popular myth, the consumption of green mangoes, according to the Nutrition professional, does not harm health. She notes that the more ripe the fruit is, the greater the amount of fructose obtained through the degradation of the starch present in the fruit.
For this reason, it is interesting that the fruit is consumed before it is very ripe, which can be attested to both by the appearance and weight of the food. The composition of the fruit, even, may suffer small variations according to seasonality and type.
“The consumption of organic fruit and according to the harvest is very interesting. Thus, the food is even more nutritious, fresh, cheaper and also helps to strengthen family farming,” he points out.
Is it bad for gastritis?
The nutritionist disputes another myth often associated with the fruit. “People diagnosed with gastritis can also benefit from the consumption of the fruit, considering its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential”, he emphasizes, adding that the mango has nutritional substances that favor the gastric mucosa.
It indicates that the fruit is consumed as an item in a healthy and varied diet, favoring the prevention and management of non-communicable chronic diseases, such as dyslipidemia, diabetes and heart disease.
According to the professional, mango should only be avoided in three situations: allergy, sensitivity or difficulty in ingesting the mango. It also highlights the high caloric density food, which must be considered by consumers.
how to consume
The fruit consumption possibilities are quite varied. The nutritionist ranks the fresh intake as the best, as it maintains the full amount of fiber in the fruit. “In the juice, it ends up reducing a little, especially when the juice is strained”, he explains, adding that the sweetening of the juice “is not interesting”.
In addition to this way, the mango can also be ingested in the form of jelly, cream and even as a vitamin, beat with milk, contradicting a popular taboo about the combination causing harm. “That doesn’t exist,” he concludes.
*Jamile Tahim is a nutritionist graduated from the University of Fortaleza (Unifor), postgraduate in Clinical Nutrition and Applied Phytotherapy and in Nutrition in Nephrology, Improved in Biochemistry and Metabolism, Improved in Behavioral Approach, as well as a Master’s in Nutrition and Health from the State University of Ceará (Uece). He works in a private practice in Fortaleza (CE) providing clinical care for adults and the elderly with an emphasis on Preventive Nutrition and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCCD).