There’s a reason the mango is considered the king of fruit. It’s revered in many countries where it’s grown. The mango is the national fruit of India, the Philippines and Pakistan, and it’s the national tree of Bangladesh. That reverence could also have something to do with the mango’s incredible taste, and no doubt its health benefits, including many for active older adults.
All those health perks could be why India, the world’s largest producer of mangos, consumes most of its crop and exports only one percent of what it grows.
The Health Benefits of Eating Mango
1. Mangos are good for our eyes.
“Certain nutrients — derived from foods or supplements—can help preserve your vision,” says Dr. Andrea P. Thau, past president of the American Optometric Association. “Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients to reduced risk of certain eye diseases. Studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include green, leafy veggies, such as spinach, broccoli and kale and bright yellow/red foods like tomatoes, peppers, egg yolks and mangos.”
2. Mangos may prevent colon and breast cancer
Mangos don’t pack the same amount of antioxidants as blueberries or other dark fruits, yet studies have found that mango prevents the growth of certain breast and colon cancer cells. In some cases, the polyphenols in mangos even stopped cancer cell growth entirely.
3. Mangos keep us slim and trim.
Mangos may just be the secret ingredient in the fight against obesity and related illnesses. A past study found that mango was a promising alternative to some common drugs used to reduce body fat and blood sugar. Further studies showed mango’s positive effects on glucose levels. Keeping glucose and body fat in check can prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Unlike the pills they were compared to, mangos had no negative side effects on the liver or bones.
4. Mangos are a brain-boosting food.
Many older adults aren’t getting enough B vitamins for optimal health. Mangos are a good source of vitamin B6, which is important for maintaining — even improving — brain function. Just a 1/2 cup of raw mango provides 5% of the vitamin B6 we need every day.
5. Mangos are a good source of fatty acids.
Mangos are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. One cup of sliced mango contains more than 61 milligrams of omega-3. Getting enough of this fatty acid reduces inflammation, plays an important role in brain function and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acid has also been linked to mood swings, depression and poor circulation.
Easy Ways to Include Mango in Your Diet
Mangos are a great addition to morning smoothies. Just keep a bag of mango chunks handy in your freezer and blend with banana, nut milk, and ground flax seed for an early energy boost. This strawberry mango smoothie recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod is especially easy to make. Or whip up a mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink with mango and yogurt that offers lip-smacking refreshment. Mango sesame avocado salsa is the perfect sweet and sour accompaniment for chicken and fish come dinner or to snack on with your favourite corn chips. For that satisfying mix of sweet, salty, spicy and sour, try making a Thai mango salad and skip the takeout tonight.
Editor’s note: The American Optometric Association was an editorial participant in this piece and not a paying sponsor.