Produce Exposé: Mangoes

What's the deal with mangoes?

I was eating some green mangoes today and I thought to myself that it's very rare to enjoy a fruit in many forms. With mangoes, one can enjoy them unripe (green), ripe, dried, juiced (nectar), sorbet-ed, lassi-ed, or even ice cream-ed.

Curve ball: the mango comes from the Anacardiaceae family of flowering trees and counts among her cousins, the delicious cashew, sumac (used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine), marula (an African fruit), and none other than the ever-evil, ever vicious poison ivy. 

My witchy side likely sensed a poisonous cousin. Perhaps that's why I find mangoes so irresistible.

Adding to the mango's overall sex appeal are her Indian origins, from which she became one of the most popular and widely-cultivated tropical fruits. She remains the national fruit of, both, India and Pakistan to this day.

It turns out that a mango peel contains urushiol, which is the same compound that's found in poison ivy and poison sumac. When I discovered this, I had a flashback to the many times I had scraped every last shed of mango flesh from the peel...with my teeth. No doubt, I would always got a fuzzy feeling on my tongue.

As with bananas, under-ripe mangoes can be ripened by placing them in brown paper bags. To cut a mango, I prefer the 'hedgehog' format used in the image above and described in the infographic at the right.

Mango's yellow flesh comes from her abundance of beta-carotene. She is overflowing with phytochemicals, prebiotic fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, polyphenols, provitamin A carotenoids (up to 25!), Vitamin B6, folate, other B vitamins and essential nutrients like potassium, copper and amino acids.

That witchy peel contains other crazy stuff like omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Other chemicals in mangoes have been shown to be an effective inhibitor of prostate and skin cancers. Even mango branch bark, Vimang, has implications for blood transfusions in elderly people.


The moral is that, if you find yourself at the grocery store, wondering whether or not to purchase a good-looking mango, the answer is, "Yes, yes you should." It's the latest thing since rapini.

Oh, and you should try my favourite and most elegant mango berry salad recipe here.


  1. Problem with mangoes is they are a real pain in butt to get the fruit off the seed and out of its rubber case.

  2. Agreed, it's a sign that nature is protecting something special.

  3. Agreed with the seed trouble. Someone needs to invent a mango cutting machine that will completely remove fruit off the seed. I always feel bad for throwing out a seed that still contained a lot of fruit :(

  4. I know what you mean, Lucas! I personally run my teeth along the core and suck away all the extra flesh. I always wind up with strings of mango pulp in my teeth, but at least it's not going to waste! :)