Researchers report that about 90 percent of Americans don’t eat enough fruit for optimal health.1
Which is a shame, because fruit is a delicious way to get extra nutrients and fiber that can improve your wellness in a big way.
And one fruit in particular – the mango – is not only a tasty treat but it can also help heal your gut and improve your overall digestion.
The mango has been a vital component of Ayurvedic medicine for more than 4,000 years.2 Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical system of India, uses every part of the mango plant to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Now studies confirm that eating the mango fruit – even without the other parts of the plant – can improve your digestive health. What’s more, the mango fruit also contains cancer-fighting natural compounds along with natural substances that rein in inflammation.
Protecting the Probiotic Bacteria that Protect Your health
Lab tests at Oklahoma State University, for instance, demonstrate that eating mangoes can help your beneficial digestive tract bacteria survive the ill-effects of eating the typical American diet that’s high in processed food.
According to this research, the natural chemicals in mangoes favor the growth of health-promoting bacteria linked to lower weight and better resistance to diabetes.3 The study also indicated that nutrients from mangoes helped the bacteria produce more butyrate – a short chain fatty acid that supports better health of the epithelial cells that line the intestines, cells that are critical for trouble-free digestion.4
So it’s no surprise that an eight-week study at Texas A&M involving people aged 18 to 79 who suffered from inflammatory bowel disease found that eating a moderate number of mangoes can ease the discomforts of ulcerative colitis.
Here, too, mango also improved the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. “Intestinal Lactobacilli and other beneficial probiotic bacteria were significantly increased after the consumption of mango as were certain short-chain fatty acids essential for a healthy intact intestinal tract,” notes researcher Susanne Talcott.5
Dr. Talcott also points out that mangoes are rich in natural substances called gallotannins. These are helpful phytochemicals that the intestinal bacteria convert into bioactive molecules which act as antioxidants and keep the cells lining the digestive tract functioning properly.
In the study of inflammatory bowel disease, Dr. Talcott reports, “All subjects who completed the study stated they would continue to consume mangoes regularly and will recommend this to others who suffer from IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and also tell their physicians.”
Mango Mangles Cancer
Other research demonstrates that consuming mangoes may reduce your risk of cancer.
For example, mango contains gallic acid, a natural chemical that lowers inflammation and induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.6 And another study at Texas A&M which examined the effects of gallic acid along with gallotannins, showed that these substances can help shrink breast cancer tumors and restrict their spread.7
In addition to those powerful anti-cancer compounds, mangoes also contain lupeol – which is an antioxidant that fights inflammation.
According to scientists at the University of Wisconsin, research into using lupeol therapeutically is accelerating because it’s virtually non-toxic and, besides fighting cancer, this natural nutrient shows promise in treatments for arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems and liver issues.8
In particular, the researchers in Wisconsin are investigating how lupeol can be used to fight melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer. They have found that concentrations of lupeol applied topically kill melanoma cells (via apoptosis) but do not harm normal cells.9 And lupeol has also shown potential in limiting pancreatic cancer, another deadly and often incurable cancer in conventional medicine.10
Eating “Moderate” Amounts of Mango
If you decide to add mango to your meals, don’t overdo it. After all, it is a fruit that contains a fair amount of sugar. However, consuming it in moderate amounts – about 2/3 of a cup at a time – should not present a problem for most people. In those kinds of amounts, studies show that mangoes can lower blood sugar and potentially improve insulin sensitivity. And a study at the University of Oklahoma showed that overweight people who added fresh mango to their meals did, in fact, significantly reduce their blood glucose.11
The Oklahoma researchers say that mango’s ability to lower blood sugar is linked to its high-fiber content and a compound called mangiferin which studies show can bring down blood sugar.12
One caution though – if you are allergic to latex, you have a slight risk of being allergic to mangoes. Apparently, mangoes contain substances with similarities to latex. So, use caution if you are susceptible to that type of allergic reaction.13 While latex may sound like something that comes out of lab, it occurs naturally in the rubber tree and other plants.