Mirza Ghalib a legendry Urdu poet of the 18th century was very fond of mangoes. His famous quote about the fruit was that the mangoes should be sweet and plentiful. Once he was enjoying the fruit along with his friends and throwing the peels in a corner. One of his friends who did not like mangoes was sitting aside. There came a donkey, smelt the peels and turned away. The friend who didn’t like mango said sarcastically, “Look! Mirza even donkeys (gadhas) do not like mangoes.” Mirza Ghalib laughingly taunted, “Hann! gadhe he Aam Nahin Khate.”
The story may be true or not but mango is held in high esteem all over the world and is considered by people of South Asia to be ‘king of fruits’.
Mangoes are native to Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and eastern Asia, but are grown almost in all the tropical regions of the world where they are called by their vernacular names.
Many varieties of mangoes are grown in Pakistan, such as Sindhri, Langra, Chaunsa, Fajri, Samar Bahist, Anwar Ratole, Dasehri, Saroli, Tuta Pari, Neelam, Maldah, Collector, Bengan Phali, etc. It is good that all these varieties do not come at the same time, and so we can enjoy one variety after another. The first one to appear in Karachi is Sindhri, and then Saroli followed by Dasehri and so on.
Mangoes have many health benefits, as they contain almost all the vital vitamins and minerals. However, they can never be the same in terms of nourishment, though Chaunsa is regarded to contain highest quantity of nutritions.
Mae Chan with degrees in physiology and nutritional sciences has studied nutritional aspects of mangoes; these are enumerated below with slight modifications.
Prevents cancer — Mangoes have been found to contain chemicals like quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid, and methylgallat. Some researchers believe that mangos may protect the onset of some types of cancers.
Keeps cholesterol in check — Mangoes contain high levels of vitamin C, pectin and fibres that help to lower serum cholesterol levels. Fresh mangoes are also rich source of potassium and sodium, which are important to regulate the body cells function.
Regulates diabetes — Although its sweetness may not suit diabetics, it is highly rich in absorbable minerals and vitamins that may regulate blood glucose levels. Mangoes have a low glycemic index (41-60) so consuming a little more will not increase sugar levels.
Eye care — One mango of 100-200gm weight provides 25pc of the daily requirement of vitamin A and retinol, which helps in promoting good eye sight, fights dry eyes problem as well as prevents night blindness.
It not only tastes good but is also good for your health
Helps in digestion — Mangoes are rich in pre-biotic fibers. They promote production of enzymes that help in breaking down protein which helps in digestion and absorption of food.
Heat stroke — In summer when the sun is scorching at its highest, drinking juice of an unripe mango (kerry) with little water and some ice cubes will instantly cool you down and prevent heat stroke. This is especially beneficial for children when they come from school in sweltering afternoon.
Aids concentration and memory — Studying for exams? Eat one mango, it is rich in glutamine — an important protein amino acid — which helps in concentration and memory retention. Feeding mangoes to children who find it difficult to concentrate on studies will be very helpful.
High iron content — Mangoes are rich in iron and a great help to people suffering from anemia. Menopausal and pregnant women should eat mangoes as they will increase their iron levels as well as calcium.
Reduces kidney stones — In Chinese medicine, mangoes are considered capable of reducing the risk of kidney stone formation.
Perfect snack — Instead of eating unhealthy chips and cookies, why not feast on slices of mangoes instead. They also help maintain healthy teeth, skeletal, soft tissues, and keep skin fresh.
Boosts immune system — The generous amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A in mangoes, plus 25 different kinds of carotenoids keep the immune system healthy and strong.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine May 22nd, 2016