Scientists Discover New Health Benefits of Mangoes

Diet quality and nutrient intake improves significantly for women of childbearing age (WCA) who incorporate mangoes into their diets, according to a study that analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). ​​​​The study found that mangoes increase the intake of key nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy, such as fiber, folate, and vitamins, while reducing the consumption of undesirable nutrients such as added sugars and saturated fats.

A new NHANES study shows that diets containing mangoes are linked to improved nutrition and higher Healthy Eating Index scores, which are beneficial for a healthy pregnancy.

Women who are trying to conceive, are currently pregnant, or are breastfeeding have unique nutritional requirements that are often not met by current diets. A recent study published in the journal Nutrients reveals a remarkable discovery: the incorporation of mangos into the diets of women of childbearing age (WCA) significantly improves the overall quality of their diet and their intake of essential nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy. These nutrients, which are often underutilized by 10 – 30% in pregnant women’s diets, see a significant increase in intake when mangoes are consumed.

“Pregnant women are at risk of a number of health conditions, such as gestational diabetes and hypertension, which put their health and the health of the unborn child at risk,” says co-author of the study Kristin Fulgoni. “Diet is an integral part of prevention plans, and mangoes are a healthy fruit that provides many of the nutrients associated with reducing the risk of pregnancy-related diseases – including fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E.”

Researchers collected information from 16,744 women aged 15-44, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1988-1994 and 1999-2018. The investigation used the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), a validated measure of diet quality to assess how well participants followed recommendations from the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

Compared to diets without mangoes, HEI scores were 16% higher among WCA who included mangoes in their diet.

The higher diet quality is, in part, attributed to differences in nutrient intake between the groups. When WCA incorporate mangoes into their diets, they have a much higher consumption of beneficial nutrients and a lower intake of undesirable ones. Notable differences include:

Nutrients that are Stimulated

  • 70% higher vitamin C
  • 31% higher fiber
  • 30% higher vitamin E
  • 26% higher Folate
  • 16% higher magnesium
  • 11% higher Potassium

Nutrients to Avoid

  • 17% lower Added Sugars
  • 11% lower Saturated Fat
  • 9% lower Total Fat

The study also included a second cohort of older Americans, aged 60 and over – another population that needs special nutritional attention. Results among mango eaters compared to mango non-eaters show a 13% higher HEI score; higher intake of fiber and vitamin C; and lower intakes of cholesterol, niacin, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, saturated fat, and vitamin B12. Researchers found that older mango consumers had a higher percentage of people who identified as vegetarian/vegetarian, which may explain these lower nutrient intakes, as many of these nutrients are normally found in higher amounts in animal products.

“These findings add to a growing body of research showing the positive effects of adding mangoes to various diets,” says Leonardo Ortega, PhD, Director of Research, National Mango Board. “As a heritage-based food that is culturally connected to more than 1 in 4 Americans, mangoes can be an important bridge to improving nutritional equity and quality of nutrition and nutrition in our multicultural country.”

Study design, strengths and limitations

Food and nutrient intakes were determined based on two 24-hour dietary recalls using dietary ingredients from the NHANES and What We Eat in America surveys. The first recall was conducted in person, while most participants completed the second by telephone. Mango consumers were defined as anyone consuming any amount of raw mangoes as reported at first or second recall. Nutrient intake was obtained from both interviews, and usual intake was determined using the National Cancer Institute method. Diet quality was measured using HEI-2020, which gives a maximum score of 100 based on 13 sub-components, each representing a food group or nutrient addressed in DGA 2020.

Strengths of the study included the use of several cycles of NHANES data resulting in a larger sample size of mango consumers. In addition, there are limitations including the observational nature of the NHANES analysis, which precludes assessments of causal relationships; the dependence on diet recalls; and the relatively small percentage of the US population that consumes mangoes.

Reference: “Mango Consumption Associated with Higher Nutrient Intake and Diet Quality in Child-Playing Women and Older Adults” by Kristin Fulgoni and Victor L. Fulgoni, 18 January 2024, Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390/nu16020303

The research was funded by the National Mango Board.

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