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Sweet, succulent and perfect on a hot summer day, mango is considered to be "the king of all fruits" with good reason. Ripe mangoes are the perfect package of deliciousness and nutrition. Eat them as they are, or turn them into mango shake, aamras, mango shrikhand, mango custard, aampapad or mango kulfi!

This fruit might now be grown in most parts of the world, but India has about 1,000 unique and tasty varieties of mango - we are one of the major global exporters of fresh mangoes. No wonder this fruit is specially celebrated in India during the summer months.

Wonderful as mangoes are, there is another reality we have to face. They have high sugar content: every 100 grams of mangoes contain 15 grams of carbohydrates of which 14 grams is natural sugar. If you - like 72.96 million other Indians - have diabetes, you might believe that you’ll have to give this fruit up completely.

Mango is known to be packed with natural sugar and carbohydrates. So it might seem logical to assume that eating even a slice of this fruit can shoot up the blood sugar levels and worsen your condition. Despite this assumption, recent research has shown that mangoes are actually not unhealthy and can be consumed by people with diabetes. Here is everything you need to know about whether or not it is safe to have mangoes when you have diabetes:

  1. Mangoes are packed with nutrition
  2. Mangoes have a low glycaemic index
  3. Benefits of mango peel and leaves
  4. Tips to make mangoes more diabetes-friendly
  5. Doctors for Is it Safe to Eat Mangoes in Diabetes?

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of mango contains 13.66 grams sugar, of which

  • 6.97 grams is sucrose
  • 2.01 grams is glucose or dextrose
  • 4.68 grams is fructose or fruit sugar

You might focus on the sweet taste of mangoes but the fact is that this fruit is loaded with more than just sugars. A single mango can provide up to 40% of the daily dietary fibre needs of your body. Mangoes are also packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. This fruit is also a great source of dietary antioxidants like ascorbic acid, carotenoids and phenolic compounds.

Since 90% of mango is made of sugar, it can affect the blood sugar levels of someone with diabetes. But the fibre and antioxidants in mangoes can minimize the overall impact on blood sugar by slowing the rate at which your body absorbs sugar into the bloodstream and by reducing the stress associated with blood sugar rise. Pairing mangoes with other foods, especially proteins (example, hung curd), can also help minimize the blood sugar rise. 

So, the blood sugar rise after eating a mango is manageable, and the nutrients in a single mango can boost immunity, improve digestion and eye health, clear the skin and help control cholesterol levels too.

Another point in favour of mangoes is that it is a good source of potassium: 100 grams of mango has about 168 milligrams of potassium. Now, potassium is an important mineral for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body. Research has shown that potassium can reduce blood pressure in people who have hypertension. Since people who have diabetes often also have high blood pressure, very small doses of mangoes might actually be good for them. That said, people with chronic lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes should always consult their doctor before making changes to their recommended diet.

You might also be interested in: Exercises for diabetes

The bottom line for eating anything when you have diabetes is does it have a low enough glycaemic index or GI? The GI is a method of ranking foods according to the effect they can have on blood sugar, which is the primary parameter to consider if you’re diabetic. 

The scale of measuring GI is 0-100, with 0 representing no effect on blood sugar and 100 representing the sharp rise in blood sugar after consuming pure sugar. Foods that rank below 55 on this scale are considered to have a low GI and are therefore considered to be a safe choice for people with diabetes.

According to research published in Diabetes Care - a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Diabetes Association - mango has a GI of 51 (±5). 

Mango thereby falls under the safe GI range, and can be consumed by diabetics. However, it’s important to remember that your physiological response to different foods can vary depending on your metabolism and stage of diabetes, so portion control while eating mangoes is a must.

While eating mango fruit in controlled portions is considered to be safe for diabetics, other mango by-products can even be used to treat diabetes. Example, mango peel powder.

According to a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2015, the consumption of mango peel powder increases antioxidant enzymes in the body and decreases the oxidative degradation of lipids. This, in turn, can have an ameliorative effect on blood sugar levels. 

Similarly, another study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research in 2017 showed that mango leaf extracts - especially the polyphenolic compound known as mangiferin - can help control blood sugar levels.

Therefore, mango peel powder or mango leaf extract are sometimes used as alternative medicines for diabetes. Please remember that these alternative remedies should not replace your regular diabetes medication such as metformin tablets or insulin injections. Also, check with your doctor before taking any alternative medication in addition to your diabetes medicines.

While it may not be harmful to eat a mango or two while the fruit is in season, you really shouldn’t be overeating it if you’re diabetic or at risk of developing diabetes. Here are a few tips that can help you enjoy the taste of mangoes while making sure that your blood sugar levels don’t rise:

  • When you have diabetes, fruits should be eaten only in exchange for other carbohydrates. So, don’t eat any other carbs if you’re eating a mango. 
  • Start with half a cup of sliced mango (or 12 grams) in a day, and avoid any other sources of carbohydrates if you’re eating it. If this amount is too much and your blood sugar rises, reduce the portion.
  • Fibre and protein minimize the rise of blood sugar. So instead of eating just a slice of mango, eat an egg or nuts right before it or with it.
Dr. Tanmay Bharani

Dr. Tanmay Bharani

Endocrinology
15 Years of Experience

Dr. Sunil Kumar Mishra

Dr. Sunil Kumar Mishra

Endocrinology
23 Years of Experience

Dr. Parjeet Kaur

Dr. Parjeet Kaur

Endocrinology
19 Years of Experience

Dr. M Shafi Kuchay

Dr. M Shafi Kuchay

Endocrinology
13 Years of Experience

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References

  1. Kehar, Sugandha and Misra, Anoop. Mango: A Fruit Too Far in Patients With Diabetes? (Or Is It?). Diabetes Metab Syndr , 14 (2), 135-136. PMID: 32087563
  2. Gondi, Mahendranath. et al. Anti-diabetic Effect of Dietary Mango (Mangifera Indica L.) Peel in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats. J Sci Food Agric , 95 (5), 991-9. PMID: 24917522
  3. Ganogpichayagrai, Aunyachulee. et al. Antidiabetic and anticancer activities of Mangifera indica cv. Okrong leaves. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2017 Jan-Mar; 8(1): 19–24. PMID: 28217550
  4. American Diabetes Association [internet]. Arlington. Virginia. US; Fruit
  5. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority [Internet]. Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. New Delhi. India Mango
  6. Atkinson, Fiona S. et al. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care 2008 Dec; 31(12): 2281-2283.
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