When it comes to fruit, I quietly bow in allegiance to royalty
Come summer and the first thing on people’s mind is the fruit from the genus Mangifera, popularly known as the Mango. Here are some pertinent questions about mango, answered for the inexperienced.
What is the best time to consume mangoes?
The season for mangoes in India begins in late March till the end of July (or just before the rains set in). Old wisdom says that it might not be right to eat mangoes out of season because they could be artificially ripened. Mangoes which are available towards the end of the season are usually worm infested or spoilt by over-ripening. This is purely my experience of being an avid mango eater for over 30 years.
How do you select a good mango?
Look for a uniform sunshine yellow colour in a ripe mango. Varieties such as Sindhoori, hailing from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh flaunt an orange tint, resembling the holy vermillion. Smell the mango from the side of the stem. A good strong smell indicates that the mango is ready to eat. The best ripe mango in terms of colour, shape, size and smell is the Alphonso—again, a very personal suggestion.
So some thumb rules while picking mangoes:
- The colour isn’t the best judge for ripeness
- The aroma is strongest at the stem for a ripe mango
How do you handle (ripen, store, cut) a mango?
- Storing at room temperature ripens them gradually. If you want to speed up ripening, keep it in a box full of uncooked rice, dry hay or a paper bag at room temperature.
- Never refrigerate mangoes before they are ripe, it slows down ripening. If you want to store a ripe mango, you can keep it in the fridge to store it for longer.
- Cubed and peeled mangoes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
- Always use a clean knife and wash mangoes before cutting.
What are the health benefits of eating a mango? Are there any downsides?
Eating seasonal fruit is always good, this is a well-known fact. Mango on its own is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, A and C.
100gms of fresh mango provides 340mcg of recommended daily levels of Vitamin A (which is 50% of recommended daily intake for an adult India) known to have antioxidant properties and essential for vision. Vitamin A also maintains healthy mucus membranes and skin. Fruits rich in carotene protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancer. Vitamin C (16mg in 100gms in mango) helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Fresh mango is a good source of potassium. 100gms fruit provides 205mg of potassium while just 26mg of sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
These values have been certified by nutritionist Neha Sanwalka of NutriCanvas. The one thing that might go against the mango is the fact that it is high in calories due to the high amounts of sugar present in it.
Who can eat a mango, and who must not?
Mangoes are an incredibly healthy snack. Being high in fiber, mangoes are a rich source of vitamins and beta-carotene. However, if you are diabetic, you should not be overeating mangoes. Stick to about ½ cup (83gms) of mango which has 15gms of carbohydrates, as Mayoclinic advises. Contact with oils in mango leaves, stem, sap and skin could cause dermatitis and anaphylaxis, to susceptible individuals. Anyone who is not allergic to oils in the mango can eat a mango.