More and more of us are aware of the dangers of too much saturated fat in our diet and are increasingly turning to so-called ‘healthy snacks’ in place of our usual biscuit or chocolate bar. Unfortunately many ‘low fat’ and ‘diet’ snacks contain added sugars that help to improve their palatability and add bulk and texture in place of fat. Whilst sugar in itself is not always bad – indeed sugar occurs naturally in many different types of food and is required to provide fuel for our bodies – the ‘refined’ sugars that are routinely added to many of our favourite treats have been chemically bleached and stripped of their valuable nutrients to provide energy in the form of calories and very little else. A constantly high consumption of refined sugars has been linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, fungal infections (such as Candida albicans), hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and temper tantrums in children, premature aging caused by an increase in insulin, and even cancer, which feeds on sugar. According to recent scientific advice for the government in England, we need to more than halve our intake of added sugar in order to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis alone.
As snacks bars that don’t contain added sugars tend to be laden with synthetic sweeteners (such as sucralose, saccharin and aspartame) instead, it’s time to switch to a healthier snack between meals – one that will satisfy our insatiably sweet teeth, but won’t compromise our health in the process…dried mango!
More about dried mango
Mangoes are the sweet and succulent stone fruit of the Mangifera – a flowering tree of the Anacardiaceae family that thrives mainly in Asia, Africa and South America. One of the most cultivated fruits in the tropics, the mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and the Hindu symbol of perfection. Thanks to its particularly high content of beneficial nutrients the mango has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and is often referred to as the ‘king of fruits’. Just one small handful of dried mango, which is made from pure, unheated, deliciously chewable pieces of mango, is equivalent to one portion of fruit and contains all of the following:
- Fibre – dried mango consists of almost 10% dietary fibre
- Vitamins – such as vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C
- Minerals – including iron, copper, potassium and magnesium
- Phytochemicals and polyphenols
And whilst dried mango does contain sugar, it’s in the form of natural fruit sugars and not the type of refined sugars that are damaging to our health. It also boasts a low GI rating of between 41-60, which means that dried mango has a limited effect on blood glucose levels and can be enjoyed responsibly.
Dried mango health benefits
In addition to being a sensible snack between meals, dried mango has also been associated with an interesting array of health benefits that are explored in more detail below.
1) Dried mango and weight loss
Dried mango is high in soluble fibre, which helps to delays the body’s absorption of glucose and ensure that excess glucose is absorbed as fuel, along with other substances that have been scientifically proven to boost metabolism and simultaneously help us to lose weight, such as:
- Adiponectin – a powerful hormone that regulates our appetite and signals satiety.
- Leptin – a hormone that increases the metabolism of fats in the liver and the glucose absorption of our cells.
A recent study revealed that those taking 150 mg of mango seed extract twice daily showed “significant improvements” in their body weight, body fat, and waist circumference, without changing anything else in their diet or exercise routine.
2) Dried mango and heart health
The British Heart Foundation estimates that more than 50 percent of the UK population now suffers from raised cholesterol levels (excessive levels of lipids in the blood, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke). We can easily cut our cholesterol levels by enjoying a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in vegetables, wholegrain cereals and fruit, such as dried mango. That’s because dried mango is high in vitamin C, pectin and fibre, which help to lower total blood (serum) cholesterol levels.
Dried mango also boasts small amounts of potassium – an important mineral that controls the balance of fluids in our body, helps to control heart rate and relax blood vessel walls, thus preventing high blood pressure. The NHS believes that high blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer” as it rarely has obvious signs or symptoms, currently affects some 30% of people in England and again, increases the chance of heart attack and stroke.
3) Dried mango and immunity
Dried mango contains a potent blend of vitamins and more than 25 different carotenoids that help to keep our immune system healthy.
For example, the vitamin C in dried mango helps to protect our cells and boost immunity – according to Mark Moyad, lead researcher of a study published in Seminars in Preventive and Alternative Medicine, which analysed 100 studies over 10 years, ‘higher levels of vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health’. He also claims that ‘the more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health and immunity to living longer’. Its vitamin A content also helps to combat viruses, including measles, respiratory viruses, and HIV. And the carotenoids in dried mango have an antioxidant effect that may prove useful in treating and preventing a number of chronic diseases.
4) Dried mango and skin care
Dried mango is loaded with special ingredients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene, which promote beautifully radiant skin and can help to relieve or eliminate certain skin complaints (such as acne). Indeed, mangoes are a popular ingredient in many natural skin treatments, such as nourishing face masks, exfoliating skin scrubs and gentle cleansers.
Studies by the University of Maryland Medical Center suggest that vitamin A plays an integral role in skin health, helping with cell reproduction, wound healing and skin growth. In fact, a lack of vitamin A will often manifest in dry, scaly skin and vitamin A supplements are frequently recommended for those suffering from acne and psoriasis.
Vitamin C helps to combat the signs of aging skin and stimulate the production of collagen (the protein responsible for making our skin smooth and supple). A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that those enjoying a diet rich in vitamin C benefit from significantly fewer wrinkles and less age related, dry skin.
Dried mango also contains beta-carotene, which reduces the type of oxygen damage caused by UV light, pollution and other environmental toxins and improves the efficacy of sunscreen. Recent research demonstrated that just ten weeks of beta-carotene supplementation (90 to 180 milligrams per day) can reduce sunburn and provide an SPF (sun protection factor) of 4.
5) Dried mango and alkaline balance
Dried mango contains tartaric acid, malic acid and small traces of citric acid that help to maintain our alkaline balance – the balance of acids and non-acids (alkalis) in our body’s fluids and tissue, which is determined by measuring pH levels. Our body’s pH needs to be slightly alkaline (ideally with a pH of 7.4) in order to thrive and remain healthy.
6) Dried mango and vision
As already mentioned, dried mango is an excellent source of vitamin A. Vitamin A has not only been linked to improved scotopic vision (vision under low light conditions), but also enhanced colour vision.
7) Dried mango and digestion
The high amounts of fibre in dried mango helps to cleanse the intestines, regulate bowel movements and improve our overall digestive health.
8) Dried mango and women’s health
Lastly, dried mango is rich in both iron and calcium – iron is an essential mineral that manufactures DNA and helps to make the haemoglobin that carries oxygen around our bodies. A lack of iron can lead to a reduction in the number of red blood cells and ultimately trigger a condition known as anaemia, which results in tiredness and lethargy, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and a visibly pale complexion. Women in particular are vulnerable to shortages of iron, as they lose blood during their monthly period. Which is why women aged between 19 and 50 require 18 mg of iron per day, when men can get away with just 8 mg.
A sufficient calcium intake is especially important for pregnant women, as it is crucial for the manufacture of her baby’s bones and teeth. A lack of calcium can also lead to osteoporosis, a condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak and fragile and more likely to break, and is commonly associated with post-menopausal women.
Dried mango on your menu!
Dried mango can be enjoyed straight from the bag or added to trail mix for a delicious superfood snack on the go. You can also use your dried mango as a cheerful topping on breakfast cereals and desserts, as a temptingly sweet and chewy addition to raw chocolate and energy bars, or for a warm splash of colour in all of your favourite smoothies, shakes and protein drinks.