Can Mango Skins Be Eaten?

In the United States, summer is the time to enjoy the sweet-tart, juicy flesh of fresh mango. Popular the world over, mangos are incredibly delicious eaten fresh or when adding tropical flavor to a wide variety of sweet and savory recipes (such as smoothies, salads and salsas. They’re also very nutritious: mangos are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and beta-carotene. With a flavor that could please most any sweet tooth, a one-cup serving of diced mango has only about 120 calories, making them a satisfying alternative to desserts made with processed sugar.

Though a favorite fruit around the globe, for many years mango was uncommon in North America because the fruit has a short shelf life, making it difficult to import on a large scale. Nowadays mangos are cultivated in the southern US, making them more familiar to the American landscape.

Most recipes call for mangos to be peeled so just the flesh can be used, leading some people to believe the skin or peel of the fruit can’t be eaten. Before we address this misconception, let’s examine a few other facts about this interesting fruit.

Mango Facts:

Here are a few quick facts about this tropical fruit:

• Mangoes originated in Asia. Mango trees are native to India, and for many years the fruit had to be imported to other countries (which is why it was fairly uncommon in the Americas). Nowadays some varieties are cultivated in the southern United States. If you live in a warmer growing zone, you can buy mango trees online from Yarden and grow your own mango fruit.
• Mangos are “drupes” – that is, stone fruits. Like peaches, plums, and cherries (also drupes), mangos have a “stone” or “pit” in their centers. Stone fruits have a fleshy exterior known as the mesocarp (covered with a skin, or exocarp) that encases a stone or pit (the shell of which is a hardened endocarp with a seed inside).
• Mangos can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Mango is delicious when eaten fresh out of hand, blended into smoothies, added into salads or desserts, grilled, baked, and made into compotes or preserves.
• Mangoes have many health benefits. Mango is a low-calorie food that’s high in vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamins C and A, fiber, and folate.

Can People Eat Mango Skins?

People who peel apples and peaches before baking them into pies have no problem noshing on them, skin and all, when they’re fresh. But did you know that the skins or rinds of most fruits are perfectly edible, too? That includes citrus, bananas, watermelon – even the fuzzy kiwi.

We tend to focus on the sweet flesh of various fruits and vegetables and skip over their less flavorful coverings, but we really shouldn’t – not only can the rinds and peels of most fruits and veggies be eaten, they should – because they’re so high in nutrients.

We get it – watermelon rind is nowhere near as sweet as its flesh, while grapefruit peel can taste downright bitter. Fortunately, mangos have thin skins like those of nectarines and apples, making them a bit easier to eat. This is good, because mango skins contain powerful antioxidants that may help fight or even prevent a variety of cancers (including brain cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer), as well as triterpenes and triterpenoids (plant compounds that help prevent diabetes). Mango skins are also rich in beta cryptothanxin (a nutrient that may help prevent heart disease) and fiber. Some studies even suggest that mango peel extract reduces the formation of fat cells, helping you to lose weight.

So What Stops Us From Eating Mango Skins?

Two things cause most people to eat only the flesh of a mango:

First, some folks may experience a reaction to the urushiol that can be found in mango skin. Urushiol is the same compound that’s in poison ivy. Just as poison ivy causes skin rash, so do fresh mango skins for those who are especially sensitive to urushiol. And for some people, eating mango skins can cause a more severe reaction – possibly even breathing problems. If you’re someone who is sensitive to urushiol or has had an allergic reaction to mango skins in the past, you definitely should avoid eating them.

For those who aren’t sensitive to urushiol, eating mango skins is still off the table because they tend to be bitter and a bit tough. If you’re interested in getting the blast of nutrition they offer – however, or you just don’t like wasting food – there are ways to get around this. One of the easiest ways is to make mango chips! Wash and slice a mango into strips, leaving the skins on, and toss them with a variety of spices before placing them on a grid over a baking sheet. Bake them in an oven preheated to 185°F for three or four hours (depending on the thickness of the mango slices). Tasty mango “chips” are a perfect healthy snack for hikes and road trips.

Buy Mango Trees Online at Yarden

Interested in growing mangos of your own? Yarden has several varieties of mango trees to choose from. You can grow one of these excellent tropical fruit trees in the ground within USDA Zones 9 to 11, or in a pot in Zones 4 to 11. Find the right tree for your outdoor landscape and you’ll soon be enjoying your own homegrown, delicious fresh mangos!