Even the most disciplined dieters and weight-loss enthusiasts find it impossible to resist a mango. Loaded with flavour, fragrance and fibre, this fleshy and paisley-shaped fruit is universally liked and is difficult to eat in small disciplined bites, leave alone avoid altogether.
For one, the fruit is versatile and can be combined with several other foods: Mangoes can become part of a fruit salad, smoothie, ice cream, slush and mocktails, or even be made into a curry. Second, they have great social and cultural significance—most families share their mango moments, be it from checking out the best buys, ripeness for maximum flavour, or discussing preferred pedigrees at meal-time.
Healthy: Mangoes are packed with nutrition and are not fattening.
Yet there is always a doubt…Are mangoes high in calories and fattening? Can you have at least one a day? How many would be one too many? Will eating more than one cause acne or an upset stomach?
Mangoes are nutritional power-houses, and they’re not fattening. Around 100g of mangoes have a glycaemic index (which calculates the effect of different foods on blood glucose levels) of merely 51, just 60 kcal, and 15g of carbohydrates, the equivalent of other healthy, non-fattening fruits like an apple, two oranges or a cup of papaya. Mangoes are rich in vitamins A and C, both of which are excellent for skin, eyesight and immunity.
What’s unique to the mango is that it has a high content of prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, which can be good for digestive wellness and reduce the risk of colon and cervical cancers, besides regulating blood cholesterol levels. High potassium levels of 168mg per 100g make the mango a useful food for preventing dehydration and regulating blood pressure. And mango juice or a cup of aamras makes a good post-workout strength-training energy booster; have it within 15 minutes of working out, with a protein shake.
Clearly, a mango a day is not fattening when eaten as part of a healthy diet that is devoid of junk, greasy and sugary foods, and when combined with a healthy lifestyle. It’s primarily when it’s eaten in combination with other foods that there can be problems. For instance, a tall glass of creamy mango milkshake with ice cream is 380 calories; and if it’s sugary mango barfi, aam papad, or mango tart and mango cheesecake, above 350 calories each at the very least. The hot favourite, thick aamras with puris, is packed with even more calories.
If you’re on a diet to lose weight, it is best to enjoy mangoes with morning meals, before 1pm. And despite the low glycaemic index of the fruit, diabetics must consult their physicians to determine if and when they can consume mangoes, and in how much quantity.
Here are some healthy ways to eat the fruit. All servings are for two people:
• Mango sorbet: a cooling, low-calorie dessert for summer.
Method: 2 cups mangoes, chopped; 1/4 cup fresh orange juice; juice of 1 lemon; 3 tsp natural sweetener like xylitol or stevia.
Blend the ingredients and pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, cover and freeze until the sorbet is of icy texture.
• Mango smoothie: a nutritious and filling low-calorie drink.
Method: 1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced; 1 cup fat-free plain yogurt; 8 cubes ice; 2-3 cups skimmed milk; 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
Blend mango, yogurt, ice and milk, and add cinnamon. Purée to form a smooth, frothy and creamy mixture.
• Rocket and mango salad: Rocket greens provide added nutrition to this healthy mango salad.
Method: Rub the salad bowl on all sides with 1 tbsp of oil. Toss in 2 bunches of cleaned rocket leaves, chopped; 2 ripe mangoes, sliced; and 3-4 tbsp pumpkin seeds.
For the dressing, shake 3 tsp virgin olive oil with 1 tsp honey, 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt and a pinch of freshly ground pepper.
Mix all the ingredients, chill and serve.
Ensure that mangoes are pre-soaked prior to eating. Clean up the latex secretion, the residual sticky gum on the skin of the fruit—more than the mango, this is what causes allergic reactions, mouth ulcers and skin eruptions.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at email@example.com