In Season: Mango

by in Healthy Recipes, In Season, May 5, 2010
Mango Snow Cones
Mango-Strawberry Snow Cones

Ripe and in season, mangoes are popping up at a market near you. These tangy, bright fruits are delicious in sweet and savory dishes (including my favorite dish: mango chicken!) — plus they pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Read up on how to use them and the best way to slice them.

When, Where, & What?
The mango (Mangifera indica L.) is native to southeastern Asia and is a cousin of the cashew and pistachio. It’s believed that Buddhist monks meditated under a mango tree,  giving the fruit a reputation of being sacred. Mango seeds were brought to Miami in 1862 from the West Indies.

Seventy-five percent of the world’s mango are grown in India—though these fruits rarely reach the U.S. because of import restrictions (the government is trying to keep the bugs out!). In the U.S., mangoes are grown in both Florida and California. The top four varieties native to the U.S. are Timmy Atkins, Haden, Keitt and Kent.

Mangoes vary in shape — ranging from oblong to round to kidney-shaped — and can weigh anywhere from 6 ounces to 4 pounds. Yes, you read that right — 4 pounds! Depending on the variety, the skin color can cary from yellowish-orange to yellowish-green to yellow with bright red spots. The juicy flesh is a golden-orange color with a sweetly tart flavor. Mango contains long seeds, which can make it tough to slice. Peak season runs from May through September, though you can find imported mangoes at your market all-year round.

Nutrition Facts
A cup of sliced mango contains 107 calories, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and contains over 20 vitamins and minerals. They’re an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamins A and C,  containing 25 percent and 76 percent of your daily recommended needs, respectively. The fruit’s also a source of potassium, vitamin B-6, vitamin K, and vitamin E . Mango also contains compounds called flavanoids, which may help control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

What To Do with Mango
You’ll find all the mango goodness in the flesh—eating the skin can actually make you sick! Peeling and cutting the fruit can be tricky (the darn pit is always in the way) — here are step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

After slicing your mango, some flesh may be stuck to the pit. Don’t waste it!  Pierce the pit with a fork and eat the remaining flesh like a lollipop (a common practice in Mexico).

Mango chutney and salsa are popular ways to enjoy the fruit. As an alternative, marinade fish, pork or chicken in a mango-based sauce– my favorite!  Toss fresh mangoes in a green or fruit salad, use frozen chunks in a smoothie or add dried mango to trail mix.

Shopping Tip: Look for mangoes with yellow skin blushed with red. Avoid those that are gray, bruised or with black spots on the skin—all signs of spoilage. Store unripe mangoes at room temperature in a paper bag and when ripe store in a plastic bag in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Mango Recipes to Try:

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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