Mad About Mangos

Here are some tips and recipes for enjoying the world's most popular fruit.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Tried a mango lately? If so, you've tasted the most popular fruit in the world.

Surprised? We may think the banana is No. 1, but that's only in the United States. It's the mango that rules the world, says Robert Schueller, public relations director for Melissa's/World Variety Product.

Although mangos are said to be native to India, they are now grown on every continent, even North America.

"Ninety-nine percent of the mangos in the U.S. are imported, mainly from Brazil and Mexico," says Schueller.

But California is home to a big crop of Green Keitt Mangos, which, according to Schueller, are the best-tasting variety. (These California mangos are available from late July to mid-October.)

Many of us may have had our first experience in a smoothie or margarita because mangos work well in a blender. But mangos add color and fabulous flavor to any dish. They are a member of the acclaimed "yellow and orange fruits and vegetables" grouping known to contain healthy antioxidants like vitamin C. They also contain two classes of phytochemicals (biologically active plant-food components) scientists are studying for their health-promoting potential: carotenoids and bioflavonoids.

According to the Produce for Better Health's 5 a Day program, plenty of yellow/orange fruits and vegetables, as part of a low-fat diet, may help you maintain:

  • A healthy heart
  • Healthy vision
  • A healthy immune system
  • A lower risk of some cancers.

Along with a few grams of fiber (almost 2 grams of which is soluble fiber), one cup of fresh mango gives you 184% of the Daily Value for vitamin A (and it's super rich in beta-carotene), and 61% of the Daily Value for vitamin C.

1 cup of mango slices also contains:

  • 107 calories
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 28 grams carbohydrate
  • 0.5 grams fat (0.2 monounsaturated fat, 0.1 g polyunsaturated fat)
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 3 mg sodium
  • 12% daily value for vitamin E
  • 17% daily value for vitamin B6

Selecting Mangos

There are over 150 varieties of mangos, so there are many outer colors, shapes, and sizes -- all with that beautifully golden, sweet, uniquely flavored fruit on the inside. No matter what the variety, you'll need to use your fingers and your nose to test for ripeness: ripe mangos feel soft when you apply slight pressure and have a fruity fragrance.

If you have no choice but to purchase firm mangos, you can ripen them by keeping them at room temperature in a paper bag until they're softer and more fragrant. If you need to keep them from spoiling for a few more days once they're ripe, mangos will keep in the refrigerator for about another week, advises Schueller.

There are three basic ways to eat mangos: fresh (great for eating as is and in all types of recipes); frozen (perfect for smoothies, or when fresh mango is unavailable or expensive); and dried (suitable for snacks, baking, and trail mix).

Mangos are delicious on their own, or as a fruit garnish or side dish. They're also great in all sorts of salads -- fruit salads, entree salads, or green salads. You might also see mangos featured in salsas and chutneys, hot or cold chicken, seafood dishes, or tarts and cakes. Anything is possible with mangos! They even work well on an indoor or outdoor grill.

And here's a secret serving tip from Schueller, of Melissa's, who is absolutely mad about mangos: He likes to chill his mangos two hours before serving or eating them.

Mango Recipes

Here are some recipes to get you cooking with mangos: a versatile sauce, a light appetizer, and a sweet treat perfect for serving with tea.

Tropical Mango Sauce

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal 2 tablespoons of sauce as 1/4 cup fruit juice OR 1/4 cup "unsweetened canned fruit in juice or unsweetened pureed fruit".

This sauce is wonderful over light vanilla ice cream, waffles, pancakes, grilled chicken, and fruit salad.

1 cup diced mango
2 tablespoons crushed pineapple (in juice)
2 teaspoons fine granulated sugar (or Splenda)
1/16 -- 1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

  • Add mango, crushed pineapple, sugar, and coconut extract into the bowl of a small food processor or blender and process until the mixture is fairly smooth (about 15 seconds). If you're using a larger food processor, it will work best if you double the recipe.
  • Spoon sauce into a covered container and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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