Mango (Mangifera indica) is a member of the Anacardiaceae (Cashew) Family, making it a relative of cashew, pistachio and poison ivy. The Latin name translates to “the great fruit bearer of India.” Considered one of the planet’s most delicious fruits, there are over one thousand mango species. It is a native of India, where it is often referred to as “food of the Gods.” In many Hindu temples, mangos are offered as gifts to the deities.
Mangoes are considered a yin tonic, providing moistening fluids for the body and quenching thirst. They are cool, sweet and sour. Mangoes are alterative (blood purifying), antiseptic, diuretic and laxative. Mangoes have been used to treat anemia, bleeding gums, constipation, cough, cysts, fever, hypertension, indigestion, nephritis (kidney inflammation), weak digestion, nausea, clogged pores, respiratory ailments, and seasickness. Mangoes calm the emotions, benefit the brain, strengthen the heart, and provide energy.
Mangoes are rich in amino acids, beta-carotene, niacin, vitamin C, flavonoids, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They are high in pectin, which is useful in lowering blood cholesterol levels. In “Plants Against Cancer” Hartwell describes mango as rich in phenols and enzymes with cancer preventative and cancer healing qualities.
A ripe mango yields to pressure and has a sweet fragrance. Ripening in a paper bag in a warm place helps the process. Avoid shriveled fruits with large dark areas, indicating over ripeness. There are some species that do not turn red, yellow or orange. Use mango by itself. Share one with your beloved. Add to fruit salads. Use in pies, ice creams, smoothies, juice, and salsa. Enjoy a mango in the bathtub so you don’t have to worry about the mess!
Some people are allergic to mangoes, especially the juice under the peel. Mango leaves contain a substance called mangiferin, which is being studied as a remedy against herpes simplex.