Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Cooking with Fey! As the year winds down in the pleasant time between Christmas and New Year’s, I thought we could talk about a delightful treat- Mangoes!
Mangoes are a tropical fruit with a creamy juicy pulp and large oval-shaped seed in the center. Many people comment that a mango tastes like a cross between a peach and a pineapple, and you get the best of both worlds on this one in terms of taste! But besides being a great addition to recipes, or eaten raw, mangoes also have health benefits to add to your diet such as: assisting in immune system function, protecting our heart and improving cognitive function.
Mangoes also contain these helpful nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Vitamin A is necessary for human growth and development, cell recognition, sight, proper immune system function, sexual reproduction, as well as helping the heart, lungs, and kidneys to function normally. While Vitamin A sounds like a miracle, be careful how much you take. If you ingest too much it can be harmful to the body. Most doctors recommend that adult men consume 900 mcg per day, and women take 700 mcg per day to stay within healthy levels.
As you may know, mangoes are a fantastic source of Vitamin C, which is an important nutrient linked to immune system health. Having a strong immune system helps the body ward off illness or recover faster from sickness. Which is especially important now that cold weather seems to be here to stay for most parts of America.
Vitamin C is also great for the heart. In a research study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the diets of 126,399 adults were examined over the course of many years to reveal that for every serving of fruits and vegetables a person consumed, there was a 4% reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease. The study also pointed out that leafy green vegetables and foods high in Vitamin C, like mangoes, had the largest positive impact.
Other studies have found that activities such as daily walking, combined with mango intake, can reduce blood pressure. So if you are concerned about your heart health talk to your doctor about adding mangoes to your diet.
Vitamin C also increases iron absorption in the body, so if you suffer from an iron deficiency or anemia, then mangoes might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Vitamin K is important to the body because it is needed for the body to product a protein called prothrombin, which allows the body to support bone metabolism and form helpful blood clots (like when you get a papercut and the blood clots to stop the bleeding, not the scary kind of blood clot). Vitamin K creates healthy, strong bones by increasing their density. Denser bones are less likely to break or sustain injury.
Now, you may be thinking, “why on earth do I care about fiber?” But worry not, I am about to explain about the different types of fiber, and why you should care.
Soluble Fiber is like the police force of the body. This type of fiber attaches itself to cholesterol particles in the body and helps them to be removed when we visit the restroom. This is very important because it helps to reduce the body’s overall cholesterol levels, which can be a contributing factor to heart disease.
Insoluble fiber can be thought of like a massive sponge in the large intestines. This type of fiber draws in water and helps regulate the movement of food through our intestines. So if you are having problems going to the restroom, then the insoluble fiber in prunes can help.
Folate, which is one of the B vitamins, is important for tissue growth and normal cell function. Further, folate is especially important for pregnant women and our active aging populations.
Meanwhile, potassium helps the body maintain a normal blood pressure and nerve function. This means that mangoes can help the nervous system regulate muscle movements more effectively. This is important for weightlifters such as myself, as it maximizes all that hard work we put in at the gym each week.
The potassium and vitamin C in mangoes also combine to protect our heart. Heart health is important for me since I live with Atrial Fibrillation. So when I read studies like the one from Vanderbilt Medical School stating that a daily intake of potassium can lower the risk of developing heart disease, I definitely made sure to start eating mangoes so my own heart condition doesn’t worsen.
Copper is a very vital mineral that every part of the body needs in order to function. Why, you might ask? Because copper helps our bodies make red blood cells, keep our nerve cells healthy and support our immune system. Copper also helps our body form collagen, absorb iron from the food we eat and assists in energy production. That sounds like a super important mineral to me!
As you may know, mangoes contain a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Science is also starting to show that diets rich in antioxidants have a positive effect on cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. While these illnesses currently have no known cure, diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can lower the risk of developing these diseases later in life.