With summer approaching fast, I can’t help but think of mangoes. Growing up in India, it hard to escape the smell of ripening mangoes in summer. Plucking mangoes as games may be a child’s play, but the rewards are a delight for everyone. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood smell of mangoes or are tainted with mango yellow…like me bending over the first crate of mangoes that Grandpa got every summer to take in the ripe warm fruity smell, him teaching me to recognise ripe mangoes and then putting me to test every lunch time, and that absolute ecstasy of taste as I dug into every bite of it. I remember my Granny teaching me that mangoes are known as the king of fruits, but she never went beyond that to explain why. Then, I didn’t care…now I do…so here is the reason why.
Scientifically known as Mangifera Indica, mangoes are nutritionally very rich, thus placing them in the new ‘super fruits’ category.
Nutritionally, mangoes are widely known to be excellent sources of vitamins A, E and C. As a result, they are work wonders for the eyes and the body’s resistance to the diseases. While vitamin E is known for its anti-oxidant properties, it is also a key nutrient for healthy shining hair and skin and improves sex drive. However, they have a lot many more hidden treasures. Mangoes are also good sources of dietary fibre and like all coloured fruits, good source of anti-oxidants form the poly phenolic flavanoid and carotenoid classes. Put together, this makes make an excellent source of anti-oxidants, doing all what they most legendarily do – stop aging, boost the immune response, prevent cancer and strengthen the heart’s capacity.
Mangoes are also a very good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamins E and K. Vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine is particularly required for GABA hormone production in the brain, which acts as a natural neuro-tranquiliser. It also controls homocystiene levels in the blood, which may otherwise be harmful to blood vessels resulting in CAD and stroke.
Mangoes are also high in potassium, which plays an important role in maintaining blood pressure and controlling the heart rate. Copper, another nutrition found amply in mangoes is essential in functions of the immune system and vital for the production of red blood cells.
In addition to the number of nutritional benefits, mangoes are also known for the health benefits they impart as a result of components other than known nutrients. For examples, mangoes aid digestion in people suffering from acidity and its enzymes helps to relieve indigestion problems. The Bio-active elements such as Esters, Terpenes and Aldehydes present in mango aids to easy digestion.
Several traditionally remedies for health problems also rotate around mangoes. For example, unripe mangoes, a rich source of pectin, when steamed and juiced with cumin (jeera), rock salt and sugar, provide an excellent remedy for heat stroke and heat exhaustion in summer.
- Botanically, it belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae, a family that also includes other fruiting trees like cashews and pistachios.
- Producing nearly 13.5 million ton mangoes, India is obviously the largest producer of mangoes.
- The mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. It is also the national tree of Bangladesh.
- In Hinduism, the perfectly ripe mango is often held by Lord Ganesha as a symbol of attainment, regarding the devotees’ potential perfection.
- Famous Urdu poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was very fond of mangoes. There are many anecdotes concerning his love for mangoes. The Indian Nobel prize winner for literature, Rabindranath Tagore was also very fond of mangoes and has written poems about its flowers called aamer monjori.
- The paisley pattern, developed in India, is based on the shape of a mango
- Mangos were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago and Mango seeds travelled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America beginning around 300 or 400 A.D.
So now, I know what’s so special about mangoes…and yet deep in my heart, it still doesn’t matter. I probably would have had them despite all their issues, if there were any. That there are none only makes me a bigger fan of mangoes!