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updated: 8/6/2013 10:40 AM

Eat right, live well: Much to love about mangos

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  • Mango adds a burst of flavor and nutrients to black bean and quinoa salad.

       Mango adds a burst of flavor and nutrients to black bean and quinoa salad.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 

Mango, often dubbed the "king of fruits" is not only delicious, but packed with vitamins and healthy benefits.

For example, reach for a mango, a fruit native southern Asia, to ward off heart disease and leukemia, as well as colon, breast or prostate cancer. Research shows that antioxidants such as quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin and gallic acid found in the fruit can help protect against these illnesses making a mango a top healthy snack.

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Concerned about eye health? Mangos are rich in vitamin A, a critical vitamin for maintaining good eye health. One cup of chopped mango contains about 35 percent of your daily vitamin A needs. As a bonus, vitamin A also gives your skin a healthy glow.

A juicy mango is also a great snack if you have high cholesterol. The high levels of pectin, a soluble fiber in mangos, has been found to lower cholesterol.

Trying to lower your weight? Mangos are high in fiber that helps us feel full faster and at 100 calories per cup it's a sweet summer treat that won't weigh you down.

When it comes to boosting immunity, one cup of mango provides 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C is an important immune-enhancing antioxidant also supports healthy cognitive and neurological function.

Even a small amount of vitamin C improves the absorption of iron, so pair mango with iron-rich foods, like black beans (in the accompanying salad), liver, oysters and beef to get the most iron benefits.

When selecting mangos, do not pick fruit based on the color of the skin but rather on the firmness of the fruit. Gently squeeze the mango; a ripe mango will give a little when you squeeze it.

Whether stirred into salads, salsas or desserts or eaten on their own, mangos are definitely a healthier alternative to high calorie and fattening ingredients and snacks. Incorporate the king of fruits into your diet this season to stay healthy and eat deliciously.

• Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian, works for the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and is a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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