Tried a mango lately? If so, you've tasted the most popular fruit in the world.
Surprised? We may think the banana is No. 1, but that's only in the United States. It's the mango that rules the world, says Robert Schueller, public relations director for Melissa's/World Variety Product.
Although mangos are said to be native to India, they are now grown on every continent, even North America.
"Ninety-nine percent of the mangos in the U.S. are imported, mainly from Brazil and Mexico," says Schueller.
But California is home to a big crop of Green Keitt Mangos, which, according to Schueller, are the best-tasting variety. (These California mangos are available from late July to mid-October.)
Many of us may have had our first experience in a smoothie or margarita because mangos work well in a blender. But mangos add color and fabulous flavor to any dish. They are a member of the acclaimed "yellow and orange fruits and vegetables" grouping known to contain healthy antioxidants like vitamin C. They also contain two classes of phytochemicals (biologically active plant-food components) scientists are studying for their health-promoting potential: carotenoids and bioflavonoids.
According to the Produce for Better Health's 5 a Day program, plenty of yellow/orange fruits and vegetables, as part of a low-fat diet, may help you maintain:
Along with a few grams of fiber (almost 2 grams of which is soluble fiber), one cup of fresh mango gives you 184% of the Daily Value for vitamin A (and it's super rich in beta-carotene), and 61% of the Daily Value for vitamin C.
1 cup of mango slices also contains:
There are over 150 varieties of mangos, so there are many outer colors, shapes, and sizes -- all with that beautifully golden, sweet, uniquely flavored fruit on the inside. No matter what the variety, you'll need to use your fingers and your nose to test for ripeness: ripe mangos feel soft when you apply slight pressure and have a fruity fragrance.
If you have no choice but to purchase firm mangos, you can ripen them by keeping them at room temperature in a paper bag until they're softer and more fragrant. If you need to keep them from spoiling for a few more days once they're ripe, mangos will keep in the refrigerator for about another week, advises Schueller.
There are three basic ways to eat mangos: fresh (great for eating as is and in all types of recipes); frozen (perfect for smoothies, or when fresh mango is unavailable or expensive); and dried (suitable for snacks, baking, and trail mix).
Mangos are delicious on their own, or as a fruit garnish or side dish. They're also great in all sorts of salads -- fruit salads, entrée salads, or green salads. You might also see mangos featured in salsas and chutneys, hot or cold chicken, seafood dishes, or tarts and cakes. Anything is possible with mangos! They even work well on an indoor or outdoor grill.
And here's a secret serving tip from Schueller, of Melissa's, who is absolutely mad about mangos: He likes to chill his mangos two hours before serving or eating them.
Here are some recipes to get you cooking with mangos: a versatile sauce, a light appetizer, and a sweet treat perfect for serving with tea.
Tropical Mango Sauce
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal 2 tablespoons of sauce as 1/4 cup fruit juice OR 1/4 cup "unsweetened canned fruit in juice or unsweetened pureed fruit".
This sauce is wonderful over light vanilla ice cream, waffles, pancakes, grilled chicken, and fruit salad.
1 cup diced mango
2 tablespoons crushed pineapple (in juice)
2 teaspoons fine granulated sugar (or Splenda)
1/16 -- 1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
- Add mango, crushed pineapple, sugar, and coconut extract into the bowl of a small food processor or blender and process until the mixture is fairly smooth (about 15 seconds). If you're using a larger food processor, it will work best if you double the recipe.
- Spoon sauce into a covered container and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Yield: 3/4 cup of sauce (6 servings)
Crab & Mango Lettuce Wraps
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1/2 cup hearty stews, chili, bean soup OR 1 serving lean fish or seafood without added fat OR 1/2 cup vegetables without added fat.
8 ounces cooked lump crabmeat
1 ripe mango, peeled, pit removed, and diced into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup diced jicama (peel, then dice)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
3 green onions, white and part of the green, finely chopped
10 leaves Boston lettuce, washed and dried well (other lettuce can be substituted, but Boston lettuce works particularly well)
Orange Sesame Sauce:
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup orange-flavored yogurt
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Add crabmeat, mango, jicama, cilantro and green onions to medium bowl and toss to blend well.
- Fill each lettuce leaf with about 1/3 cup (or slightly heaping 1/4 cup) of crabmeat mixture.
- In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, orange yogurt, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper until smooth.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of the citrus sauce over the crab mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve!
Yield: 5 appetizer servings (about 2 wraps each)
Mini Mango Tarts
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 portion light dessert + 1 teaspoon margarine, light
Serve these bite-size treats at brunches, teas, and evening soirees.
12 shortbread cookies (like SnackWell's Sugar Free Shortbread)
3 tablespoons lime curd (found in jars in the jam section of your supermarket)
6 tablespoons finely diced mango
12 roasted almonds or pecan halves or 1 tablespoon flaked sweetened coconut or 1 tablespoon raisins or currants
- Top the center area of each cookie with 3/4 teaspoon lime curd. Spread it out to cover the top of the cookie, leaving a small edge uncovered around the cookie.
- Top the lime curd on each cookie with a heaping teaspoon of diced mango.
- Top each Mini Mango Tart with the embellishment of your choice: a roasted almond or pecan half, or a pinch of flaked coconut, raisins or currants.
Yield: 12 mini mango tarts (6 servings)
Per serving (using SnackWell's Sugar Free Shortbread cookies and almonds): 136 calories, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 2.5 g fiber, 104 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.
Recipes provided by Elaine Magee; © 2006 Elaine Magee
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.