According to the book Healing Foods by DK Publishing, mangoes contain enzymes that aid breakdown and digestion of protein, and also fiber, which keeps the digestive functions working efficiently. Dietary fiber has some long term benefits as well that include lowering the risk of developing colon cancer and heart disease.
(Also read:Is Eating Mango Healthy?)
Studies that Reveal Mangoes are Good for Diabetics
As per a study conducted at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), eating mangoes every day may control and even lower blood sugar levels, despite their natural sugar content. On the other hand, a study conducted at the Oklahoma University revealed that mango consumption helps lower insulin resistance and improves glucose tolerance in diabetics.
The American Diabetes Association also recommends mango in its list of fruits that can be eaten by diabetics. According to them, fruits can be eaten in exchange of other sources of carbohydrates in your meal plan such as starches, grains or dairy products.
(Also read: Does Mango Make You Gain Weight?)
What Do Experts Have To Say?
While many experts agree that mangoes are quite nutritious, whether or not they are good for diabetics is still questionable. Expert Dietitian Lokendra Tomar from the Weight Loss Clinic in New Delhi says, "Diabetics should avoid mangoes. For managing diabetes, the diet should strictly focus on low carbohydrates because every 5 grams of carbohydrate increases 100 units of blood sugar in the body. Mangoes are high in carbohydrates which means 100 grams of mango will result in 20 grams of carbohydrates. If your blood sugar is high, it is imperative to avoid mangoes. For a diabetic, the total carbohydrate intake should be only 100 grams per day. If you wish to add a mango to your diet, then avoid consuming other sources of carbohydrates like wheat or rice. Also, mangoes should be eaten in the daytime only."
According to Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood, "I never say 'no' to something eaten in moderation. Mango has natural sugar present in it and sugar is the only culprit for diabetics, hence, I would recommend that people with diabetes must have mangoes according to the intensity of the problem. If their sugar levels are always high, I wouldn't recommend mangoes at all and if it is on the borderline, a small portion can be taken once in a while." She also agrees that mangoes should not be paired with any other high carb food item or those that have a high glycemic index like maida,pasta or any dessert.
(Also read: How to Control Your Sugar Intake?)
Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta tells us that mango is a treat meal for diabetics. "You cannot have it anytime you want. It is imperative to understand that a single slice of mango can really spike up the blood sugar levels in highly diabetic people. Hence, I would recommend that people with diabetes on borderline can have small amounts but it is best for people with high blood sugar to refer to doctors who know best about their condition and have been treating them for the longest time, before deciding to add them to your diet," she says.
Dietitian Jasleen Kaur from Just Diet Clinic in New Delhi explains, "The main objective of a diabetic is to keep their blood glucose levels under control. Carbohydrates - which are primarily found in fruits, vegetables, grain products and processed foods made with added sugars - have a far greater influence on blood glucose than either protein or fat. Eating a limited amount of carbohydrates at regular times each day helps diabetics maintain normal blood sugar levels. It all depends on the amount of carbohydrates you consume - a large serving of mango or any other fruit will raise your blood sugar levels more substantially than a small serving. So, it is better to eat mangoes in small quantities."
Neelanjana Singh, Chapter President at Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) agrees, "I must say that mangoes are healthy, however, how healthy they are for diabetics may still be a matter of concern. It all comes down to the amount of carbohydrates in a day you must consume and fine tune your diet according to it. If you want to gorge on to this seasonal delight, make sure it is adjusted in your calorie consumption for the day. You do not want to increase your blood sugar levels by consuming mango more than it's needed. Also, a lot depends on the form that you are eating. I recommend you cut the mango in small pieces so that it becomes easier to digest."
Dr. Sanjay Kalra, Consultant Endocrinologist at Bharti Hospital in Karnal, summarizes the issue. "A diabetic diet is followed to keep blood glucose levels under control. Earlier, it was debated that because the carbohydrates present in mango were mostly simple sugars, they get readily absorbed in the bloodstream when compared to complex carbohydrates. Studies also indicate that about 30% of the sugar content in mango is fruit sugar fructose. This is metabolized in the liver and raises a person's triglyceride levels. These were the reasons for excluding mangoes from a diabetic diet plan. According to the global dietary guidelines, about 15 grams of carbohydrates should come from a single serving of fruit for people with diabetes and below 25 grams for pre-diabetics. This is equal to half a small mango or half a cup of the chopped fruit. The solution, therefore, is not abstinence but portion control. Consume limited portions of this fruit (50 - 75 grams daily). Strictly avoid mango shakes and mango juice as it has more concentrated sugar," he says.
If you want to gorge on to this seasonal delight, ensure it is adjusted in your calorie consumption What does Ayurveda Say?
According to Dr. Dhanvantri Tyagi from Dhanvantri Ayurveda, "In Ayurvedic terms, diabetes is known as Prameha. Although Ayurveda does not recommend consuming mangoes as it has excessive fructose which is harmful for the body; however, if you want to eat mangoes, eat in moderation and during daytime. Choose desi mangoes like dussehri and avoid other varieties that are imported."
Most experts we spoke to recommend that mangoes should be eaten based on the intensity of the disease and also fine tuning your diet is the key to maintaining your blood sugar levels. Hence, eating mangoes may not be bad, but for diabetics it can be problematic as managing your diet is an important part of controlling the ailment. If you cannot resist eating them, refer to your doctor or nutritionist who can alter your dietary needs for the day and fit in your favourite fruit in the diet plan.
Who doesn't love gorging on these juicy summer delights? Just a mere thought of this delicious summer fruit can elicit numerous visuals of the huge variety of mangoes that you can choose from. While most people enjoy binging on this king of fruits, some shun it because of the high amount of sugar present in it. The health benefits of mangoes have always been debatable because of their excessive sugar and calorie content which generally overpower the nutritional value of the fruit. Therefore, diabetics are mostly advised to eat mangoes in moderation. But the jury is still out on whether or not mangoes are good for diabetics. We decided to talk to some leading doctors and nutritionists and get you expert advice.