As people become more interested in the health benefits of obscure plants, mamey fruit is getting some attention. About the size of a large mango, mamey has a tough, sandpapery skin. When you cut through the skin, you’ll find flesh with the color and texture of a baked sweet potato. The taste is unique, and is sometimes compared to that of apricot or raspberry.
Mamey fruit goes by many names. Its scientific name is Pouteria sapota, and other names for it include red mamey, mamey sapote, or just sapote. It has been growing in Central America since before the time of Columbus.
Today, Florida is the source of most of the mamey produced in the United States, though cultivating it is challenging because the fruit takes over a year to mature.
Mamey fruit is a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It can provide these health benefits:
Fiber in your diet contributes to health by making stool soft, bulky, and easy to pass. Fiber also reduces your risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer. Doctors recommend from 21 to 38 grams of fiber a day, depending on your age and gender. Mamey fruit can contribute to that dietary need, as it contains about 9 grams per one-cup serving.
Carotenoids are substances that give certain foods their red, orange, and yellow colors. They’re also helpful antioxidants that can prevent damage to bodily tissues.
As one might expect from the deep color of mamey fruit, it is quite high in carotenoids. Carotenoids found in mamey fruit include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene. It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that preserve eye health.
Fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids are important parts of a diet because researchers don't know if these substances are safe and effective in supplement form. There may be more discoveries yet to come about the health benefits of mamey. In 2020 researchers discovered two new carotenoids in mamey fruit.
Prevention of Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia may occur when your diet doesn't contain enough of the mineral. Iron appears in two forms, heme from animal sources and non-heme from plant sources.
Anemia can be a concern for vegetarians who rely on non-heme sources for iron for two reasons. First, plants have less iron than animal products. Second, non-heme iron is less easily absorbed than heme iron.
Compared to most other plants, mamey fruit is a rich source of dietary iron. It also contains vitamin C, which can aid in the absorption of non-heme iron. The iron in mamey fruit can also be valuable for non-vegetarians who are trying to reduce their intake of red meat.
Mamey is an excellent source of many nutrients:
Nutrients per Serving
A serving of mamey fruit is about one cup, and it would contain these approximate nutritional values:
- Calories: 217
- Protein: 2.5 g
- Fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 56 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Sugar: 35 g
Things to Watch Out For
Mamey fruit is high enough in calories that it might not be suitable for those on a weight-loss diet. Since it is so rich in nutrients, people who are watching their weight could include it and keep portion sizes small. Some popular dishes made with mameys, such as smoothies and ice cream, can be very high in calories. Eating the plain, fresh fruit will provide the best return of nutrients for the caloric intake.
How to Use Mamey Fruit
Mamey fruit is delicious when eaten plain. You can cut the fruit in two and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. You can also cut it into wedges, peel back the skin, and eat it out of hand. Milkshakes made with mameys are a traditional treat in Cuba and the Caribbean. Here are some other ways to enjoy mamey fruit:
- Make a healthy mamey smoothie with almond milk, and flavor with vanilla and cinnamon
- Create a sauce for salmon or pork using pureed mamey and spices
- Turn mamey fruit into jam, jelly, preserves, or marmalade
- Make a tangy salad dressing by blending mamey fruit with olive oil and citrus juice.
- Dice mamey fruit, blend with other tropical fruits, and serve over a bed of lettuce.