Many old and young people of the Caribbean who was born, breed and reared back in the days, when there were no computers, ipad, laptops, cell phones, mp3, only black and white television, radio and those old antique phones, would tell you that they enjoy playing outside, climbing rocks and trees, going fishing and other great past-times, which these modern kids that have no idea what I am talking about. I loved climbing fruit trees with my cousins and half-siblings.
Mango, is referred to as the King of fruit and is one of the most popular, nutritionally rich fruits with unique flavor, fragrance, taste, and heath promoting qualities, making it numero-uno among new functional foods, often labeled as “super fruits.” Mango is one of the delicious seasonal fruits grown in the tropics. The tree is believed to be originating in the sub-Himalayan plains of Indian subcontinent. Botanically, this exotic fruit belongs within the family of Anacardiaceae, a family that also includes numerous species of tropical-fruiting trees.
Each fruit measures 5 to 15 cms in length and about 4 to 10 cms in width, and has typical “mango” shape, or sometimes oval or round. Its weight ranges from 150 gm to around 750 gm. Outer skin (pericarp) is smooth and is green in un-ripe mangoes but turns in ripe fruits into golden yellow, crimson red, yellow or orange-red depending upon the cultivar type. Fresh mango season lasts from April until August.
Mango comes in different shapes and sizes depending upon cultivar types. Internally, its flesh (mesocarp) is juicy, orange-yellow in color with numerous soft fibrils radiating from its centrally placed flat, oval-shaped stone (enveloping a single large kidney-shaped seed). Its flavor is pleasant and rich, and tastes sweet with mild tartness. A high-quality mango fruit should feature no or very less fiber content and minimal tartness. Mango seed (stone) may either has a single embryo, or sometimes polyembryonic.
Health benefits of Mangoes
- Mango fruit is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds.
- According to new research study, mango fruit has been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers. Several trial studies suggest that polyphenolic anti-oxidant compounds in mango are known to offer protection against breast and colon cancers.
- Mango fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin-A and flavonoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. 100 g of fresh fruit provides 765 IU or 25% of recommended daily levels of vitamin-A. Together; these compounds have been known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucos and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in carotenes is known to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100 g fruit provides 156 mg of potassium while just 2 mg of sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
- It is also a very good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin-C and vitamin-E. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals. Vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine is required for GABA hormone production within the brain. It also controls homocystiene levels within the blood, which may otherwise be harmful to blood vessels resulting in coronary artery disease (CAD), and stroke.
- Further, it composes moderate amounts of copper. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells.
- Additionally, mango peel is also rich in phytonutrients, such as the pigment antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols.
Selection and storage
Mangoes are seasonal fruits; fresh mango fruit season begins by March end when its rich fragrance heralds its arrival in the markets. Mangoes usually harvested while they are green but perfectly matured. Un-ripe ones are extremely sour in taste. Organic mangoes are left to ripe on the tree; however, over-ripe fruits fall off from the tree and tend to get spoiled. In the store, mangoes come in various sizes and colors; therefore, select the one based on the serving size and variety of fruit you love to devour. “Alphanso” variety from India (Maharashtra state) and “sindhuri” (kesar) varieties from Pakistan are known for their uniqueness. Totapuri mangoes feature parrot-beak shape tips, smooth shiny and come in attractive green-yellow or orange colors. Totapuri types are best eaten raw, or while just short of full-ripe stage. Its pulp features a pleasnt blend of sweet and tart taste with special mint or clove-like flavor depending on the cultivars. Choose ones with intact skin without any bruises or cuts. Unripe mangoes can be kept at room temperature for few days, and to ripen, keep them in paper covers. Ripe fruits should be stored in the refrigerator but never below 10° F (50°C). Bring back to normal temperature when the fruit is to be eaten to get the natural taste and flavour.
Preparation and serving method
Wash mangoes in cold running water in order to remove dust/dirt and any surface chemical residue. Mop dry its outer skin using a soft cloth. Mango fruit should be eaten all alone without any seasonings/additions to experience its rich flavor.
Cut the fruit lengthwise into three pieces in such a way that the middle portion consists of husky seed. Then, slice through the skin to separate the skin from the pulp. Chop pulp into desired sections.
Alternatively, using a sharp knife, cut through the flesh on either side of the central seed (stone). This way, you get two big haves of a mango fruit and a central stone portion. Then, take one-half and score the flesh in a horizontal and vertical pattern taking care not to cut deep through skin.