Diabetic woman is addicted to mangoes

July 22, 2019

Dear Readers,

A reader who is diabetic asks Check Up about the consumption of mangoes at this time. She is a 'mango addict', and the mango crop is very good here in Jamaica this year. Mel asks 'Check Up' about the nutritional value of mangoes as a fruit or even as a meal substitute. She also wonders about the value of mangoes as a health supplement and asks Check-Up for our thoughts on this matter.

Everyone has their favourite type of mango, and there are very few individuals who don't enjoy eating mangoes. Mango is also known as 'the king of fruits' in some parts of the world.

Mangoes are highly nutritious and contributes significantly to our good health in several ways.

Health benefits associated with eating mangoes include:

n Antioxidants: Mangoes have a large amount of polyphenols which act as antioxidants and protect our cells from free radical injury, which causes cancer and ageing.

n Immunity: Mango contains vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and folic acid, all of which help our body provide immunity from diseases.

n Heart disease prevention: Mangoes contain magnesium and potassium, which promote lowering blood pressure, and an antioxidant mangiferin, which in studies seems to protect the heart cells against inflammation and may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

n Digestive health: Mangoes contain digestive enzymes (amylases) which help break down food carbohydrates for absorption from the gut.

n Water: It helps prevent constipation and in maintaining a healthy cell environment.

n Dietary fibre: This helps with the relief of constipation, piles, and irritable bowel syndrome. Mangoes also contain pectin which regulates digestion.

n Eye health: Mangoes contains lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin A, which aids vision, prevents dry eyes and night blindness. Eating mangoes can help prevent the development of macular degeneration.

n Hair and skin health: Vitamin C helps build collagen which keeps the skin firm and healthy and gives hair a healthy look, while vitamin A can help grow your hair and moisturise your scalp. Vitamin A and other retinoids also protect the skin from the sun's rays. These vitamins all prevent the skin from sagging and developing wrinkles. Mangoes also help to prevent and treat acne by applying the pulp topically to your skin for 10 minutes each day before washing off.

n Brain health: Mangoes contain folic acid, vitamin B 6 and vitamin C, which maintain and improve brain function.

n Asthma: Mangoes contain beta-carotene (also found in papaya, carrots and pumpkin) which helps prevent asthma.

n Potassium: This mineral helps replace potassium loss from sweating and from use of certain medications which cause water loss from the body.

n Cancer: The polyphenols in mangoes have several anti-cancer properties and are thought to reduce the growth of cancer cells for several cancers, including lung, leukaemia, breast, prostate, and colon.

n Diabetes: Despite its sweet taste, recent studies are revealing that, taken in moderation, the fruit and leaves contain anti-diabetic and anti-cholesterol properties. Place 10 to 15 mango leaves in warm water overnight with a closed lid. Drinking this water after straining off the leaves first thing in the morning on an empty stomach helps to lower the blood sugar in diabetics. The mango pulp also contains a lot of fibre which also helps control blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that eating mangoes often results in a decrease in fasting glucose levels, especially in obese persons.

n Cholesterol: Research on some animals has shown that when given mangoes regularly, there is a decrease in cholesterol levels similar to that obtained by using drugs.

n Anaemia: Mangoes are rich in iron, vitamin B and folic acid, all the ingredients needed to treat common anaemia by building red cells.

Mangoes are nutritious and healthy fruits which contains more sugar than many other fruits. This must also be remembered when eating mangoes, and it's best to limit one's intake of mangoes to no more than two cups a day. Eating a lot of mangoes daily without limiting intake can lead to weight gain.

However, a small number of people are allergic to mangoes. Mangoes are a distant cousin to poison ivy and ingesting it will result in skin rashes in some people. The mango peel and juice will cause this effect more often than ingestion of the fruit directly.

Mel can get her mango fix daily, in moderation. She may even see benefits with a better controlled fasting blood sugar level. Sounds contradictory because of the sugars, but remember that mangoes also contain a great deal of fibre.

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