Mangoes May Ward off Colon and Breast Cancer
It may be time to add mangoes to the growing list of superfoods. This delicious tropical fruit has long been known for its high fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content. Now, a laboratory study is showing that it may also be effective in preventing or killing certain colon and breast cancer cells.
The study, conducted by food scientists for Texas AgriLife Research, part of the Texas A&M University system, tested mango polyphenol extracts (natural substances found in plants that are associated with promoting good health) in vitro on colon, breast, lung, leukemia, and prostate cancer cells. And while the mango extracts showed some impact on lung, leukemia and prostate cancers, they were most effective on breast and colon cancers, causing apotosis, or cell death. Plus, when the researchers tested the mango extracts on normal colon cells alongside the cancer cells, the healthy cells were unharmed.
Using mango polyphenolics, said study researcher Susanne Talcott, Ph.D., assistant professor, Nutrition & Food Science at Texas A&M University, to treat cells that may be on the verge of mutating to cancer cells may halt that process from taking place. Talcott is next planning on launching a small clinical trial with volunteers who have increased inflammation in their intestines with a higher risk for cancer to see if there's any potential clinical benefit.
In the meantime, you can't go wrong by adding mangoes to your diet. In addition to high concentrations of vitamin C, mangoes are also packed with vitamin A (beta-carotene) and contain other essential vitamins as well, including vitamins E, B and K, all necessary for a healthy heart. They also provide lots of fiber, which helps keep constipation and spastic colon at bay.
The flavor of mangoes has been described as a mix between pineapple and peach. Mangoes are versatile, they're delicious when eaten alone as a low-calorie snack, and can also be used in pies, smoothies, breads, salads and ice cream.
When buying mangoes, look for ones with a tropical fruity smell (unripe mangoes have no scent) and bright colors like red and orange. Some varieties of mangoes, like the Ataulfo mango, have a lime green or deep amber yellow color when they're ripe. Also, try giving the mango a light squeeze. If it gives slightly to pressure when you press your fingers on the skin, it's ready to eat. Other common varieties of mangoes in the U.S. include Kent, Francine, Tommy/Atkins, and Haden. They should be available at your local grocer from April to September.
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