Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mango: Don't Avoid the Carotenoid! *stage 2*

Ripe, medium-sized mango.

Mangoes are some of the easiest-to-find tropical fruits in the supermarket these days.  I always seem to get them confused with papayas, but maybe that’s just me.  I still have leftover “mush brain” syndrome from pregnancy so I get confused about a lot of things!  Mangoes are also a very “hit-or-miss” kind of fruit because when you get one that is ripe, it’s absolutely glorious in its sweetness, juiciness, & wonderful, peach-like texture.  If you happen to stumble across a not-so-ripe mango, boy are you in for it!  It’s the reason a lot of people are turned off by mangoes.  One bad experience with the chemically-aftertaste of an unripe mango & they never try them again.  I was one of those people!  An unripe mango is not unlike turpentine.  It has a very astringent, unpleasant taste that tends to linger on the palette.  It’s kind of amazing the difference ripeness makes in this situation!  So if you are on the hunt for a good mango, reach for one that is: heavy for its size, has a good amount of “give” when pressure is applied, and is free of blemishes or squishy spots.

While mangoes can be a “first food,” they aren’t recommended to be the first food.  Mangoes are more recommended for ages 8-10 months, but can be tolerated as early as 6 months of age.  It’s really all up to your baby!  If your baby enjoys mango puree at 6 months with no reactions, it’s perfectly fine.  By the time baby is past 8 months, you really don’t need to give a puree.  Ripe mangoes can be mashed as easily as canned cling peaches.

Don’t avoid the Carotenoids!
Mango boasts more Carotenoids than almost any other fruit.  Carotenoids, the colorful plant pigments some of which the body can turn into vitamin A, are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and act to enhance your immune response to infections.  You may have already heard of some Carotenoids like: Lycopene, Alpha-Carotene, Beta-Carotene, and Lutein.  Carotenoids can be found in orange-ish foods including carrots, mangoes, sweet potato, but also can be found in dark, green and leafy vegetables.  Generally speaking, more intensely-colored fruits or vegetables have the highest concentration of Carotenoids.  Scientists have even touted Carotenoids for the ability to shorten the time of the common cold. 

As with many tropical fruits, mangoes do pose a risk for a reaction.  These reactions are considered mild though & usually only affect the skin with a slight rash.  The reactions come mostly from the skin of the fruit rather than the “meat.”  If your child does have sensitivity, mangoes also can produce a small rash around the bottom after the mango passes through baby’s stool.  Luckily this isn’t severe either.  The only unsafe part of the mango to eat is the skin & the large, central pit –which I don’t think you would be feeding your child anyway!  It’s about as harmful as feeding your child an avocado pit.  I’m basically just going to say DON’T DO IT, but you all know that already.  I’d just be remiss if I didn’t mention anything about the skin or pit.


Use a serrated knife to cut into the fruit because a very ripe mango can collapse unless you have a massively sharp knife.  Find the pit & cut alongside it.  The pits are very large & you won’t really see it; it will look like you’ve left a lot of meat on it.  Since explaining how to easily cut a mango is difficult, feel free to refer to the video at the end of the article.  It's actually pretty neat!

Mango Puree
1 large, ripe mango
Mango fruit flipped after criss-cross cutting.

Prepare mango in the style you wish, place in processor & process until smooth.  You won’t need any additional liquid because ripe mangoes are very juicy.  1 large mango will yield about ¾ to 1 cup of puree.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

-Elias’s mommy

How to cut a mango: 

Sources: “Carotenoids” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid; “Carotenoids in Food” http://www.carotenoidsociety.org/sites/default/files/Food-Carotenoids.pdf; What to Expect: The First Year book by Heidi Murkoff (baby food stages)

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