Mangoes are one of the most delicious and nutrient-dense fruits, and are known worldwide as the king of fruit. Mango is a tropical fruit that comes in as many as 1,000 varieties. Native to southern and southeast Asia, the fruit is now is also grown in Central and South America, Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
Mangoes are seasonal fruits, with the fresh mango fruit season beginning in May. Mangoes are usually harvested while they are green but perfectly mature. Unripe mangoes are extremely sour.
One mango contains about 3 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber lowers cholesterol and promotes healthful digestion. Mangoes are high in vitamin C, with one mango containing 96 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is well known as an immune-system booster, offers protection from heart and eye disease and boosts skin health. The vitamin E and beta carotene in mangoes act as powerful antioxidants that help the body fight the effects of free radicals. Research suggests that eating a diet rich in foods high in antioxidants reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancers and cardiovascular disease. Mangoes are also rich in vitamin B6, iron, potassium and magnesium.
The nutritional value of mango fruit per 100 g: 17 g carbohydrates, 70 calories, 0.5 g protein and 0.27 g fat.
Choose mangoes with intact skin and without any bruises or cuts. Unripe mangoes can be kept at room temperature for a few days. To ripen, place mangoes in a paper bag. Once they are ripened they should be stored in the refrigerator. Mangoes have the best flavor when served at room temperature.
How to cut a mango
Be sure to wash mangoes in cold running water to remove dust and any pesticide residues. Dry with a soft cloth.
Use a clean cutting board and a clean sharp knife. Stand the mango on your cutting board stem end down and hold. Place your knife about ¼ inch from the widest center line and cut down through the mango. Cut the fruit lengthwise into three pieces so that the middle portion consists of the husky seed. Slice underneath the skin to separate the skin from the pulp. Chop the pulp into small cubes. Then cut through the flesh down either side of the central seed. This way you get two big halves of a mango. Then, take one half and score the flesh in a horizontal and vertical pattern being careful not to cut too deep through the skin. Invert the entire half to push the cubes out.
How to serve mangoes
Mango is delicious eaten by itself at room temperature.
It is also good added to fruit salads. Mango fruit juice can be blended with milk for a mango shake. Mango fruit is used to make jam, ice cream and yogurt.
Raw green mango latex allergy especially with raw, unripe mangoes is common in some sensitized individuals. Immediate reactions may include itchiness of the mouth, lips and tip of the tongue. In some people, the reactions can be severe, with swelling of the lips, ulceration of the mouth angles, respiratory difficulty, vomiting and diarrhea.
Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Mango Salsa
1 fresh tropical gold pineapple
1 ripe mango, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon finely chopped lime peel
½ teaspoon finely chopped seeded serrano peppers
½ cup chopped onion
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 whole chicken legs or 6 chicken thighs
Twist off crown from pineapple. Cut pineapple in half lengthwise. Refrigerator one half for later use. Cut remaining half in half. Core and skin fruit. Coarsely chop one-quarter fruit. Finely chop remaining quarter. Set aside. Combine coarsely chopped pineapple, mango, cilantro, lime peel and serrano in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate the pineapple mango salsa for later use. Combine finely chopped pineapple, onion, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne in bowl. Rub mixture over chicken. Grill or broil chicken 40-50 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center, turning halfway through cooking. Discard any remaining marinade. Serve with Pineapple Mango Salsa.
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian and adjunct nutrition instructor at Eastern Maine Community College who lives in Athens. Read more of her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.