Every year, right about this time in summer, my mailbox is flooded with questions about whether or not you should eat mangoes.
"I have diabetes, so will mangoes cause my blood sugar levels to rise?"
"Mangoes are so sweet...won't they make me put on weight?"
"Are mangoes healthy to eat?"
Let me get one thing straight right away. You shouldn't be scared of a fruit—you shouldn't be scared of anything that grows naturally. What you should be scared of is everything that comes packaged, of everything that's processed, of your poor lifestyle choices.
You shouldn't be scared of a fruit... What you should be scared of is everything that comes packaged and processed.
Now let me tell you about mangoes, and why they are healthy for you—even if you have diabetes.
Mangoes are a very, very rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, and most of the B vitamins except vitamin b12. Mangoes also have traces of omega-3 and omega-6 and are loaded with minerals and fibre. One ripe mango will have approximately 29—32 grams of fruit sugar and a glycaemic load of just 10. So, while you don't have to be scared of mangoes, you do have to be scared of overeating them. This holds true for virtually anything that's good for you—too much of it can have adverse effects.
This rule applies in diabetes too—you can eat mangoes, but in moderation. Depending on your blood sugar levels, you can have one mango or half a mango quite safely. Thing is, mangoes are also rich in fibre, which doesn't allow your blood sugar levels to rise too high. I also always tell people who are trying to control their blood sugar to have some seeds and nuts with it or right after it, so that the levels are kept under check.
Let me tell you something else that's cool about mangoes other than the vitamins and fibre, they also contain a substance called mangiferin. Now mangiferin has an antiviral and anti-inflammatory impact on the body; it affects certain enzymes in your body, ultimately helping you control your blood sugar levels. Let me repeat that just so we are really, really clear: Mangiferin actually affects enzymes to positively control your blood sugar levels! So, just because a mango raises your blood sugar levels it doesn't make the fruit bad for you.
If you're highly diabetic, have half a mango in the morning and maybe enjoy the other half in the evening; couple it with nuts and seeds...
I'd also like to make a point about the importance of eating local and seasonal produce as far as possible. There's also plenty of folk wisdom that we could benefit from. Many locals in Goa believe that mangoes grow during the summer because of their cooling impact on the body. Mangoes are also very rich in vitamin C, which is an immunity booster—the theory in Goa (and there may be something to it!) is that the vitamin C in mangoes helps us to prepare for the monsoon, which is a season where more infections than usual tend to happen.
So, yeah, don't be afraid of mangoes!
But now for a word of caution. There are people who eat five to six mangoes a day. If you're one of them, take it easy: there's a whole season to enjoy mangoes and it's you should to limit your intake to one or two a day. If you're highly diabetic, have half a mango in the morning and maybe enjoy the other half in the evening; couple it with nuts and seeds if you feel your sugar levels are rising too fast.
As for weight gain, mangoes will not by themselves cause you to pile on the kilos. They have negligible fat in them and they pack a lot of nutrition, including as I mentioned vitamin C, which helps detox your body.
Finally, just trust in the goodness of nature!