Mangoes are quite interesting fruits that are only recently hitting the produce markets in the United States since most varieties are imported from other countries, such as Mexico and the Caribbean. This is because the mango tree requires frost-free climates in order to thrive. Many things have been mango-flavored in recent years, but the fruit itself is rarely seen in some locations.
Generally, it is the small round reddish-blush mango that is most often seen in US stores. They may be either Kents, Tommy Atkins or Haden mangoes, as they are difficult to distinguish from one another and few stores actually label the variety unless they are organically grown.
There are also smaller, long, slender, sort of flattened, oval-shaped Manila mangoes that are also called Ataulfo, Champagne, Adaulfo or Adolfo. These have a smooth, firm flesh with no fibers and is a bit creamy in texture. They range from green (bitter) to vibrant yellow (very sweet) when ripe.
And the monstrous-sized yellow Haitian mangoes that are as long as a dollar bill are even rarer to find as there appears to be only one natural foods company that imports them.
For example, while not present in the fruit, a compound known as vimang has been extracted from the branch bark of mango trees that contains various polyphenols with antioxidant properties. Polyphenols, which are phytonutrients, can help prevent spikes in blood sugar, and aids in regulating it. They have been shown to lessen the absorption of glucose from the digestive tract; to stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin; and to increase the uptake of glucose from the blood and are of particular benefit to the “elderly person’s blood limitations” according to Cuban researchers. This points to the importance of the mango tree itself.
Even the young, immature mango leaves are cooked and eaten in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Even more interesting is the fact that the edible mango is classified in the same plant family as the poisonous sumac, and the mango’s peel contains a substance called urushiol. This is what causes itching and skin rashes that some people experience when there skin is exposed to poison ivy, poison oak, pink peppercorns, cashew shell oil, mango skin or mango sap.. It is also referred to as urushiol-stimulated contact dermatitis. It can occur when handling freshly picked fruit that have sap dripping from the stem end. This sappy juice can get on hands and on the skin of the fruit, and if not washed off well, can be spread to other parts of the body for up to three days, and even to furniture and pet fur if hands are not washed well after handling a mango.. Usually, symptoms occur several hours after the exposure, then build to a peak within two to five days, and take about three weeks to clear up. However, mango flesh has only a tiny amount of urushiol, so most sensitive people can eat the fruit if someone else peels it.
People often peel mangoes, and edible peel is normally discarded, but they are removing a lot of the health benefits by doing so. They believe the skin has pesticides on it, which may or may not be true. But the peel is rich in antioxidants and is an effective antioxidant food resource. It weighs 20 to 25% of the total weight of the fruit and is an important source of of the fat-soluble fiber, pectin. which can significantly lower many of our blood fats. One dried mango peel contains an average of 13% pectin. Washing your mangoes before eating is always a good idea, to remove any potential pesticide residue and buying organic mangoes is even safer, so eat the peel. It is meant to be eaten with the mango, just like you eat the casing with the sausage.
Generally, mangoes are easily sliced by cutting along the seed stone and then freeing the stone by twisting the two halves in opposite directions. But some mangoes have so much fiber that they cannot be sliced. These have to be massaged a bit before cutting off the stem end and squeezing the juice into the mouth.
The edible mango seed or stone that is inside weighs 13% of the fruit’s total weight, and is about 55 to 65 % of the total seed’s weight.
Mango kernels are significant food source and are dried and stored for use as meals among the poor and during famines. The kernels are soaked to remove the astringent tannins, then dried and pounded into powder, and mixed with other flours to prepare bread or pudding. They are also eaten roasted or boiled.
Significant amounts of the solid white edible fat can be extracted from the kernel and used as a recommended healthier substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate.