Mango – King of fruits

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As we all generally know what a tasty fruit mango is, what some of us do not know is how deliciously healthy it is. One of the most popular fruits, mango is rich in nutrition, flavor, fragrance and taste. It is also high in health benefiting qualities. No doubt, it is the ‘king of fruits’. Mango is also labeled as a ‘super fruit’.
Mango is a juicy edible stone fruit and it belongs to the flowering plant family of Anacardiaceae. It is mostly cultivated in the tropics and it is a native to south and Southeast Asia. Due to the worldwide distribution, it has become the most delicious cultivated seasonal fruit in the tropics. ‘Mangifera indica’, also referred to as the ‘common mango’ or ‘Indian mango’, is the most commonly cultivated seasonal fruit in the tropics. It originated in India and Burma. The cultivation of mangoes started in India about 5000 years ago. Apart from India, mango is also the national fruit of Philippines and the Pakistan, and the mango tree is the national tree of Bangladesh.
Did you know that the English word ‘mango’ has got its root in the Dravidian language? It originated from the Malayalam word ‘manna’ or Tamil word ‘mangai or mankay’. The name ‘manga’ was taken by Portuguese traders when they got settled in western India.
It is a known fact that half of the world’s mangoes are produced in India, making the country the biggest producer of this fruit. There are more than 1000 varieties of mangoes available around the world. Some of the popular ones other than from India worth mentioning here are Valencia pride (south Florida), Nam Dok Mai (Thailand), Glenn (Florida), Madame Francique (Haiti), Keitt (south Florida and Miami), Sindhiri and Chaunsa ( Pakistan), Ataulfo, Haden, Kent, Edward, Palmer, Manila and many more mouth watering delicacies. And some varieties to be found from different parts of India are Alphansos (Gujarat and Maharashtra), Badami (south India), Kesar (Gujarat), Neelam (Karnataka and Kerala), Sindhoori (Delhi and Uttar Pradesh), Naadan (Kerala), Malda (Delhi), Pairi (Gujarat and Goa), Chandrakaran (Kerala), and Totapari (across India).
These varieties are available according to the season and climate in those regions across the world. Mangoes are normally grown from March to October across different parts of the world. Even though it is a seasonal fruit it does not lose its charm and is the most awaited fruit. It is cultivated in most frost-free tropics and warmer sub-tropics as they are suitable conditions favorable for its growth.
There are many nutritional values in mangoes including carbohydrates, sugar, dietary fiber, vitamins such as A, B & C, and iron, calcium and minerals. Anti-oxidants are found in mango, which help protect us from various diseases. Mangoes not only have nutritional values but also cultural importance can be noticed in many cultures. In India, mango fruits and leaves are ritually used as floral decorations at public, religious celebrations, and weddings ceremonies. Dried mango skin and its seeds are also used in ayurvedic medicines. Mango motifs and paisleys are widely used in different Indian embroidery styles, such as Kashmir shawls and Kanchipuram silk sarees and also common in Iranian art in the pre-Zoroastrian phase.
Well, there are so many wonderful benefits hidden in mangoes that it’s hard to just name a few. However, some important benefits are mentioned below:
• The anti-oxidant compounds in mangoes are known to prevent leukemia, colon, breast, and prostate cancers.
• Because of the high levels of pectin, vitamin C and fiber present in mangoes they help in reducing cholesterol.
• Eating mango does not cause spikes in blood sugar level because it has low glycemic index and helps in controlling diabetes.
• Mango helps preserve the alkali store in the body as it is rich in tartaric acid, malic acid, and citric acid.
• Presence of vitamin A in mango promotes good eyesight.
• The fiber in the mango improves digestion and elimination.
• The deadly combination of vitamin A, C and different kinds of carotenoids present in mango keep your immune system healthy.
• Mango contains high amounts of iron, which helps women suffering from anemia.
Different countries and cultures use mango in their own different ways. The mango fruit, both raw and ripe, and its leaves are used in different ways, according to the cultures of the places where it is cultivated. Few simple ways in which you can include mangoes in your diet are –
# Grab one and just eat it
# You add mango to your salad
# Use the Indian style of mango chutney to spice up your rice dishes
# Have a mango smoothie made with milk at breakfast, and energize your day
# Include a green mango salad with cashew nuts and play with different flavors
# Try a delicious mango bread to go with your morning coffee
# Indulge with an Indian mango kulfi
# Making a mango swirl cheese cake will be a good way to savor the sweet side of mango
# The mango and yogurt icy poles are a good way to cool off the heat
# Have a mango salsa Mexican style with tortillas and enjoy the burst of flavors
If you have a latex allergy, a reaction is possible with green mangoes because of the presence of the anacardic acid in it. As mango peel and sap contain urushiol, the same chemical in poison sumac and poison ivy, which can cause allergic reaction in liable individuals, it would be good to avoid mango in such cases. And if you do take inorganic mangoes, do wash them properly before consuming or soak overnight in water for better results. As they are ripened by some dealers using calcium carbide and it can cause serious health problems.