Chew on This

Ubiquitous mangoes taste good - and are good for you, too

Mangoes are a hazard.
Mangoes are a hazard. Stacy Zarin Goldberg/The Washington Post

Mango blooms begin in May

By June the fruit is on display

Mangoes reduce risk of disease

And now we learn

They make elimination a breeze

Mangoes are everywhere in South Florida. There are so many on my trees that only half of the ones in my driveway have been nibbled on by squirrels. A friend once visited and ate so many her hands turned orange. This is a benign condition called carotenemia, caused by elevated circulating beta carotene. Carotenemia is most commonly seen in babies eating lots of sweet potatoes and carrots.

Sheah Rarback.jpg
Sheah Rarback

A recent article in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research compared mangoes with fiber for relief of constipation. It is estimated that 20 percent of U.S. adults suffer from constipation. This study out of Texas A&M recruited 48 subjects with constipation. Everyone continued on their same diet. Half the group ate about 3½ ounces of mango a day. The other half added one teaspoon of fiber to their diet, the equivalent of the natural fiber in the mango.

At the end of the four-week study, both groups had less constipation but the mango group had more improvement. The polyphenol-rich mangoes have the added benefit of reducing intestinal inflammation. And no surprise: There was better compliance with the group eating mangoes.

Mangoes, like most foods, impact multiple body systems. The polyphenol in mangoes might be protective against certain types of cancer. The beta carotene can help with asthma. The zeaxanthin is protective against cataracts and macular degeneration. The vitamin A in mangoes can add a sheen to your hair. This is just a small taste of what mangoes offer.

One cup of mangoes is 100 calories and provides 100 percent of vitamin C, 20 percent of folate, 35 percent of vitamin A and a smattering of calcium, copper and iron. Mangoes are terrific in sauces, salads and smoothies. For great recipes head to www.mango.org.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.
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