There are over 1,000 different varieties of mangos. Most of the cultivated varieties have arisen from four main species – Mangifera indica, Mangifera sylvatica, Mangifera odorata, and Mangifera zeylanica.
Mango cultivation is found in many countries of South east Asia – the Philippines, Indonesia, Java, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Introduction of the mango to East and West Africa and subsequently to Brazil is said to have occurred in the sixteenth century. Mexico acquired the mango in the 19th Century, and it entered Florida, United State of America (U.S.A) in 1833.
The cultivated mango varieties are the result of constant selection by man from original wild plants for over 4000 years. The wild progenies are still available in India in two species, Mangifera indica and Mangifera sylvatica, which have small fruits with a big seed, thin acidic flesh and long fibers. Mango trees can grow up to 35 to 40 meters tall.
The trees are long-lived, as some species still produce fruit after 300 years. In deep soil, the taproot descends to a depth of six meters (20 ft.), with profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots; the tree also sends down many anchor roots, which penetrate several feet of soil. The leaves are evergreen.
When the leaves are young they are orange-pink, rapidly changing to a dark, glossy red, then dark green as they mature. The fruit takes three to six months to ripen.
There are over 1,000 different varieties of mangos, many of which ripen in summer. It is said that mangos are eaten fresh than any other fruit in the world. Below are some of the health benefits of Mango
Research has shown antioxidant compounds in mango fruit have been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers.
These compounds include quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid and methylgallat, as well as the abundant enzymes.
The high levels of fiber, pectin and vitamin C in Mango help to lower serum cholesterol levels, specifically Low-Density Lipoprotein, referred to as bad cholesterol.
Promotes eye health
One cup of sliced mangoes supplies 25 percent of the needed daily value of vitamin A, which promotes good eyesight and prevents night blindness and dry eyes.
Alkalises the whole body
The tartaric acid, malic acid, and a trace of citric acid found in the fruit help to maintain the alkali reserve of the body.
Mango leaves help normalise insulin levels in the blood.
The traditional home remedy involves boiling leaves in water, soaking through the night and then consuming the filtered decoction in the morning. Mango fruit also have a relatively low glycemic index (41-60) so moderate quantities will not spike your sugar levels.