By Purity Wanjiru
Every end of year, the festive season brings with it an abundance of joy, expectations, introspections and… mangoes! Market places in many parts of Kenya from November to February are full of the juicy yellow, orange and sometimes green color of the displayed fruit.
Some blend it to make juice, others eat it as it is or mix it up with other fruits to make a salad while others spice it up with salt and pepper to enhance its sweet flavor. This member of the drupe family has a characteristic outer fleshy part surrounding a shell that contains a seed.
Like many financial advisors and nutritionists would tell you, when looking to supplement meals with the required nutrients, the reasonable thing to do would be to purchase foods in season. This helps to keep you healthy in pocket friendly ways. It also encourages consumption of fresh foods. Now that it’s mango season, I believe that most of us have had the fruit at least once!
While many of us know that fruits are one of the must-haves for good health, we barely know the benefits of what we eat. Perhaps if we did, we would appreciate and nurture our foods more. That being said, do you know what mangoes do for you? Here are a few benefits:
Mangoes prevent heart disease, which we are all prone to due to lifestyle change.
One of the main causes of an ailing heart is the high amount of cholesterol in the blood. Mangoes are endowed with pectin fibre which helps in the disposal of unwanted waste products such as excess cholesterol into the intestines. If you aren’t constantly filling your bowels with such natural sources of fiber, unwanted waste products can get reabsorbed and undermine your body’s attempts at detoxifying itself, causing disease.
They aid in digestion
Mangoes contain enzymes and fibre that aid in the breakdown and digestion of protein. Protein, especially animal-based, is known to stay longer than its plant-based counterpart in the digestive tract. This is because it is not easily broken down. As a result, one may experience stomach upset and irritation. The fibre and enzymes break it down and dispose it as required. The result is a healthy gut that is void of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
They promote healthy skin and hair
The fruit contains vitamins C and A, both of which are crucial for general skin health, skin repair and hair growth. Vitamin C is involved in production of collagen in the body, a protein that enhances skin elasticity and promotes hair growth. The vitamin also aids in iron absorption, a mineral required for healthy hair. Furthermore, to enjoy the benefits of radiant skin, eating the fruit is not a must. Applying the pulp on the skin will do.
This is made possible by the high amounts of vitamins A and C which help in collagen production. Collagen helps protect blood vessels and the body’s connective tissues, thereby slowing down the natural aging process. Moreover, the beta-carotene found in the fruit helps to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays, preventing cell degeneration.
They are rich in iron and vitamin B6
Rich in iron content, mangoes could help prevent anemia by increasing red blood cell count in the body. This also suggests that it’s good for pregnant women who are often prescribed for iron-rich supplements to increase ‘oxygen-carrying’ hemoglobin in the blood. The mineral also aids in normal brain functioning while Vitamin B6 supports cognitive development.
Mangoes promote eye health
The fruit is rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to the antioxidant vitamin A when in excess. This translates to more of that vitamin in the body which then helps to improve vision, boost overall eye health and prevent loss of vision. The vitamin is specifically crucial for the optimal functioning of the retina and its deficiency is known to cause blindness. It also helps to prevent vision problems in newborns.
In addition, mangoes are rich in zeaxanthin, a major carotenoid in the eye that is believed to block blue light from reaching the underlying structures of the retina. This reduces the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration. The macular is the small central area of the retina that determines our ability to see fine detail such as when using a computer. This is crucial. No one wants things looking blurry up close.
Mango leaves, a plant component that is often overlooked, are also full of benefits. They can be consumed by boiling in water or in powdered form. Some are also said to smoke them after burning. They are said to treat kidney stones, respiratory problems, and dysentery, manage anxiety, ear aches, hiccups, throat problems and burns. The leaves are also said to be rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C and antioxidants.
(Photo Credits: The Hijabi Photographer)