In the hot summer months, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could look at a bulging, ripe, sweet, enticing mango, freshly cut from the tree, and not want to eat it right away. As tiny beads of dew gently drip down over the tight red skin, who wouldn’t be tempted to dive into it right there and then, shoving it into their face until the only thing left is the skin, the stone, and a great big sticky smile?
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have access to the very best ripe mangoes, even when they’re in season. All too often, mangoes in grocery stores across the USA are hard, bitter little things that are better suited to hammering nails into drywall then as a juicy summertime treat. These strange, leathery baseballs have little in common with joyful, yielding, tropical delights that come from India, Pakistan and South America. Anyone would be forgiven for passing on an under-ripe American mango.
Naturally, with so many people denied access to ripe mangoes for such long periods, there’s great demand for mango treats that can be enjoyed at any time and will stay fresh year round. And that, of course, is one of the great mango juice benefits—almost anywhere in the world at any time, you can have a taste of the very best a mango has to offer.
So what are the mango juice benefits?
Mango juice has most of the benefits of raw mango. It can help keep your heart healthy and it’s a great source of antioxidants. It’s also chock full of essential vitamins and minerals. The only thing that mango juice doesn’t have large amounts of is the fibre found in fresh mango. That makes mango juice less valuable for weight loss. Mango juice has just as many calories as raw mango, but because it has less fibre, you’re more likely to eat more food after drinking mango juice than if eating a raw mango, so it’s not a great idea to have too much if you’re on a diet.
How to choose the best mango juice
There are hundreds of brands of mango juice on the market, so it’s important to know what to look for when choosing which type to buy.
Because mangoes are expensive and because they are so pulpy, it’s very rare to find 100 percent pure mango juice. In other words, most “mango juice” you can buy either has added water and sugar, or added juice from another fruit, such as apple or grape (which are much cheaper). However, if you look carefully, there are some juices available that are 100 percent mango, but be warned, they can be quite pricey.
Try to find the type mixed with other fruit juice if you can—it’s healthier than the kind with added sugar. Check the label if you’re not sure what you’re buying. If your mango juice comes with added sugar, it will always say so somewhere on the label (although you may have to look hard—companies are sneaky!)
You should also check to see how much mango is in your mango juice. The label will usually say “mango pulp” and then give a percentage. Anything under 20 percent is very stingy indeed and barely qualifies to use the word “mango.” Around 25 percent is typical, but of course, the higher the better.
Cheaper juices are made from concentrate, which means they have had all the water removed, been transported (often thousands of miles) and then had the water added again. Premium juices will say “not from concentrate” on the label.
Calories in mango juice
The number of calories in a cup of mango juice varies significantly based on whether or not sugar has been added by the manufacturer, and if so, how much. A typical mango juice drink with added sugar, or blended juice drink (such as apple-and-mango or grape-and-mango) has about 130 calories per cup. Pure mango juice usually has slightly more calories—about 150 per cup—because it has so much more mango pulp in it and therefore is much thicker and more indulgent.
In either case, mango juice is a delicious and healthy treat, but people watching their weight should be careful not to consume too much.
John Shade writes about health and nutrition from Toronto, Canada. He holds a master’s degree in Economics and has been writing about science-related topics for many years. He keeps a blog where he writes about healthy eating and nutritional supplements like African mango.
Image 1: Mango Juice via Shutterstock