Research concerning plant foods, fruits and vegetables in particular, has proved their potential to help delay the onset of many age-related degenerative diseases due to the high content of antioxidants: vitamins, minerals, carotenes, polyphenols, and other phytonutrients. It is the mango’s high antioxidant values that have been reported to be excellent for the immune system and to help protect against cancer. Mangos also contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties similar to papain found in papayas, which act as a digestive aid and are said to be partially responsible for the ‘feel good factor’ experienced during and after eating mangos.
Benefits of mango beta-carotene ingestion, which is converted in the body to Vitamin A, are many: it may reduce the risk of heart attack, protect against cataracts and promote healthy eyes and skin. It may also help boost the immune response to colds and ‘flu. Vitamin C is best known as a cell protector and immune system booster, countering the effects of cell damage by free radicals, aiding the body’s ligaments, tendons and collagen. It is especially useful to help against the severity of colds and ‘flu symptoms and duration. Diets high in potassium-rich food may help to protect against heart disease and stroke, as well as aiding regular heartbeat and heart-rhythm abnormalities. Vitamin E content may prevent blood clots, the formation of fatty plaques and cell proliferation on the walls of arteries, protect against stroke caused by blocked arteries and reduce the risk of some cancers by preventing cancer cell proliferation and causing cancer cells to die.
For example, Lupeol, a triterpene, is the principal constituent of common fruit plants such as olive, mango, fig and medicinal herbs that have been used to treat skin ailments. Research has found that Lupeol possesses anti-skin-tumour-promoting effects (in mice).17
In some parts of the world, such as Senegal and Brazil, mangos provide an important seasonal source of Vitamin A for the indigenous population for health and longevity.11&15 The use of available foods rich in provitamin A like mangos can make an enormous difference to their state of health. Violaxanthin is the principal carotenoid of mango, which is also found in green vegetables.12
It is known that Vitamin A deficiency can cause various Ocular conditions, such as nyctalopia – (night blindness, impaired vision in dim light and in the dark, due to impaired function of certain specialized vision cells), hemeralopia – (inability to see clearly in bright light), xerophthalmia – (‘dry eyes’ resulting from inadequate function of the lacrimal glands which produce tears), which is a major cause of blindness in children in Africa and Latin America. Infant feeding practices reflect the antecedent risk of xerophthalmia in children in e.g. Nepali research found ‘mango’ helped reduce the risk of this Vitamin A deficiency condition.18
Research has also found in evaluating the radical scavenger activity of several Mediterranean and tropical fruits that, among others, mango offered better protection from damage than the common food additives butylated hydroxyanisole [BHA] and butylated hydroxytoluene [BHT].13
The effect of Mango extract (Vimang) on treatment of injury associated with hepatic ischemia/reperfusion from research data suggests that Vimang could be a useful new natural drug for preventing oxidative damage during hepatic injury associated with free radical generation.16
It is not only the fruit of the mango tree that is remedial. In Cuba, 2002, research revealed that an aqueous decoction of mango stem bark has been developed on an industrial scale to be used as a nutritional supplement, cosmetic and phytomedicine.14
All in all, the mango is not just a beautiful golden seductive succulent fruit with good nutritional value and many delightful culinary uses; it also has a lot of medicinal power to offer.
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