Our planet is home to a yellow-orange tropical fruit that never fails to awaken our taste buds. We’re talking, of course, about mangoes! These juicy slices of pure sweetness can be eaten alone or blended into smoothies, served in salads and savory dishes, and even used as ingredients in desserts. And when it comes to nutrition, this delightful treat has some serious benefits you’ll want your kids to know about.
In this article, we have created a comprehensive collection of fascinating facts that will amaze both adults and children alike. From discussing the differences between varieties of mangoes to detailing their nutrient-rich benefits and even highlighting recipes for delicious treats, this list provides countless ways to explore this amazing tropical fruit.
Let’s get started!
1. Mangoes have been around for 4,000 years!
Considered one of the oldest fruits in the world, mangoes have been around for over 4,000 years! Mangoes are a fruit that originated in South Asia and the Indian subcontinent. They were cultivated there for the first time and were brought to other parts of the world by traders and travelers. Mangoes are now grown in many tropical and subtropical regions, including Africa, the Americas, and Australia.
2. The term “mango” has Portuguese origins
Doesn’t the name of mangoes sound funny to you? Man-go, as if you’re asking a man to leave! If you’ve ever been curious about how this term came into being, we have the answer right here for you:
The term “mango” has Portuguese origins, as the Portuguese were the first Europeans to encounter the fruit during their travels to India. Mango is derived from the Portuguese term manga, which was taken from the Malay term mangga. This Malay term finds its roots in two Tamil words: man, which was the Tamil name for mango tree, and kay, which means fruit.
In other words, the fruits that grow on mango trees were called mankay in the Tamil language, and our current name for these fruits has been derived from it.
3. India is the land of mangoes’ origins
Since mangoes are warm-climate fruits, it’s natural to assume that they’ve originated in a tropical area, but do you know exactly where did these fruits first grow?
Evidence indicates that these fruits were first grown in the heart of Southeast Asia; the region between north-eastern India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, to be more precise. It is from this area that these tropical fruits spread to the rest of Asia and later to other continents.
4. There are thousands of recognized mango varieties in the world!
When it comes to varieties, mangoes offer more than you could ever handle! There are thousands of mango varieties cultivated around the world. India, the land of this fruit’s origin, boasts of cultivating over 1,500 mango varieties, out of which 1,000 are commercially recognized.
Even in America, where these fruits were not cultivated until the 19th century, you can find over 100 different mango varieties!
5. Mangoes and cashews are relatives
Who would ever have thought that large, juicy fruits like mangoes would be related to a dry fruit? It might seem surprising, but it’s true.
Mangoes are related to not one but two different nuts: cashews and pistachios. All three of these fruits belong to the Anacardiaceae family and are, therefore, botanically considered cousins.
6. Unripe mangoes have a higher Vitamin C content than ripe ones
While you might enjoy mangoes that are sweet and juicy, there are many who would rather have them raw. In their raw form, these fruits are extremely sour due to the high amount of citric, malic, oxalic, and succinic acids in them.
But did you know that there’s one more acid that has a higher concentration in unripe mangoes? We’re talking about Ascorbic acid, the purest form of Vitamin C. Because of its presence, unripe mangoes are more nutritious than ripe ones.
7. Unripe mangoes have various culinary uses
We just learned about the nutritiousness of unripe mangoes, despite their sour taste. But did you know that these sour fruits are warmly welcomed in Indian and Thai cuisines? They’re a common ingredient in salads, drinks, pickles, and chutneys.
8. Mangoes continue to ripen after they’re harvested
Have you ever brought home sour grapes and regretted it almost instantly? Well, in the case of mangoes, that’s nothing you’ll need to worry about, because even if they’re sour today, in a couple of days, they’ll turn sweeter.
This is because these tropical fruits are climacteric in nature, which means they continue to ripen after they’ve been plucked from their trees. When mangoes are picked, they’re not yet ripe. The ethylene gas that they produce speeds up the ripening process, so they continue to ripen after they’re harvested.
9. The Alphonso variety is called “the king of mangoes”
Mangoes are considered the king of fruits by many, but do you know which mango holds that position among other mango varieties? We’re talking about Alphonso Mangoes.
Named after the first Duke of the Indian state of Goa, Alfonso de Albuquerque, these mangoes are quite expensive and sought after in the international market for their soft, juicy pulp and rich and creamy flavor.
These bright fruits have a taste that seems like a combination of various other fruits, such as peaches, melons, and apricots dipped in honey.
10. Miyazaki Mangoes are the most expensive mangoes in the world
We just talked about one of the most expensive mangoes in the world above. Has that made you wonder which variety tops the list? We’re glad it did because here’s your answer: Miyazaki Mangoes.
Named after the Japanese city where it was cultivated in, this mango variety is also referred to as taiyo-no-tomago, which translates to eggs of sunshine in English. This is because they resemble dinosaur eggs in shape.
Each year, the Miyazaki Mangoes are auctioned off to the highest bidder in the market. In 2019, these fruits made their highest sale record, when a pair of them was sold at 500,000 yen. That’s close to $4,000. Imagine paying that much money for a couple of fruits!
11. Mangoes were first introduced in America in the 16th century
While mangoes have been on Earth for at least 4,000 years, not all of us have enjoyed in for that long. The Americans were unaware of the existence of these juicy fruits until the 16th century. Wondering how mangoes found their way into our continent?
It all started in the 14th century when the Portuguese explorers brought mangoes to Africa. On their later voyages, these explorers introduced these fruits to Brazil, from where they were spread to Mexico and the Caribbean.
It wasn’t until the 1800s that the fruits found their way into the United States, where the first mango tree was planted in Florida in 1833.
12. Mangoes were the muse behind the famous paisley pattern
Have you ever seen people wearing bandanas with paisley patterns drawn on them? We’re talking about the teardrop-shaped pattern, which has a curved end. This pattern, which originated in Persia in the 16th century and is now popular throughout the world, was inspired by the shape of mangoes!
The paisley pattern was highly popularized by the Beatles in America around the 1960s when they were considered a psychedelic style.
13. Mango trees can fruit at the age of 300 years
It is common knowledge that mangoes can last 2 to 3 days at room temperature and about 7-12 days when stored in a refrigerator. What comes as a surprise to many is the incredibly long lifespan of the trees on which these fruits grow.
The mango trees, which are about 120 feet tall, generally tend to live well past 100 years, with some trees bearing fruits even at the age of 300 years!
14. Mangoes can tenderize meat
You might have heard about papayas being used as a meat tenderizer, but did you know that mangoes can do it as well? Much like papayas, these fruits also contain enzymes that help break down the protein of meat into amino acids, which makes them softer and lesser chewy.
The next time you’re cooking meat and have mangoes sitting on your table’s basket, don’t forget to use them to your advantage!
15. Mango leaves are toxic to cattle
The leaves of mango trees, which are considered auspicious in Indian culture, are highly toxic to cattle! These leaves have a high concentration of Mangiferin, which is a phenolic compound that can cause poisoning in all cattle animals if they ingest in high quantities.
16. Touching mango leaves can make you itchy!
We learned earlier that mangoes, cashews, and pistachios come from the same family. But did you know that many popular trees with poison in their names – poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac – are all mango’s cousins as well?
Besides their shared family, these three plants have another similarity with mango plants: Urushiol, an oily chemical that induces a severe itch in humans upon touching it. This chemical runs in the sap of mango trees just as the other poison plants, which is why touching their leaves or bark can make you itchy.
17. The heaviest mango in the world weighs over 9 pounds!
If you’re interested in reading world records, you might already know that the record of the heaviest mango in the world was set at 7 pounds and 57 pounces. We’d like to update your knowledge by telling you how this record was broken very recently.
In April 2021, a farmer couple in Guayata, Columbia, set the new world record of the heaviest mango in the world, which weighed 9 pounds and 36 ounces!
18. India is the leading producer of mangos in the world
Considering how India was the land of mango’s origin, it’s not difficult to imagine the Asian country being its leading producer in the world. India accounts for 45% of the total mango production in the world. Indonesia, which falls second on the list, has a total production that’s merely one-eighth of India’s.
What’s even more surprising is that despite its incredibly high numbers of production, the country has less than 1% involvement in the global trade of mangos.
It only highlights how most mangoes grown in the country are consumed by its citizens, making India the largest mango-consuming country as well. It is for these reasons that the country is called the Mango Capital of the World.
19. Mangoes hold a special place in the Indian culture
We’ve already gathered by now that India and mangoes go way back. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these fruits are significant in the country’s culture as well.
In Tamil Nadu, a South-Indian state, mango is considered one of the three royal fruits, alongside jackfruits and bananas. Mango leaves are used to decorate doors and entrances in festivals, while their blossoms are used to worship Goddess Saraswati.
Ambika, the Jain goddess, is also represented as sitting under a mango tree!
20. The Buddhists see mangoes as a symbol of prosperity
Mangoes have a special place in the hearts of all Buddhists, and it’s not merely because of their taste.
There’s a popular Buddhist legend that says that Buddha was once gifted a grove of mangoes to rest and meditate. Because of this legend, the Buddhists started seeing mangoes as a symbol of prosperity and faith. These fruits also became a symbol of diplomacy since they were exchanged as gifts among various Buddhist rulers.
21. Thailand is the largest exporter of mangoes in the world
We learned above how India grows the most mangos in the world and consumes them, too, having lower than 1% involvement in the global mango trade. Doesn’t that make you wonder which country exports most of these fruits? If it does, we have the answer right here for you: Thailand is the largest exporter of mangoes in the world, accounting for about one-third of the global mango trade. The country exports mangoes to more than 50 countries, with the majority of exports going to the United States, Europe, and Japan.
22. China is the largest importer of mangoes in the world
Now that we’ve learned about mango’s largest exporter, let’s move on to talk about the country that imports the highest numbers of these fruits: it’s China.
Despite being the third-largest producer of mangoes itself, this Asian country imports them from ten different countries. Perhaps its large mango production isn’t enough for its even larger population.
Mangoes are a popular fruit in China and are often eaten fresh or used in juices and desserts. The fruit is also becoming increasingly popular as a decorative element in fruit platters and as a garnish on cocktails and other drinks.
23. Mango is the national fruit of three Asian countries!
Because mangoes have originated in Asia, three Asian countries have declared them their national fruit: India, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
24. Mango trees can grow up to 100 feet tall
The average height of a mango tree is about 45 feet, but some trees can grow over 100 feet. Mango trees have a wide, round canopy and a dense network of branches and leaves.
25. Mango is considered a drupe
A drupe is a fruit with a stone or pit inside, surrounded by flesh. Mangoes are drupes because they have a large, hard seed in the center, surrounded by juicy flesh. The skin of a mango is thin and can be eaten, but it is often discarded. The flesh of the mango is sweet and creamy, and it is often used in desserts or eaten as a snack. Mangoes are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber.
26. July 22nd is celebrated as National Mango Day
Because mangoes are considered the most delicious of summer fruits, it seems appropriate that they’re celebrated right in the middle of summer, on July 22nd.