The skins of fruits and vegetables are often discarded before eating or cooking them. This is because they are seen as merely a protective covering for the tender flesh underneath, and because they are tough and difficult to chew through.
However, fruit and vegetable peels are often chock full of nutrients! In fact, most of the nutrients of a fruit or vegetable are concentrated in their peels (1).
Mangoes are highly nutritious fruits that are no exception to this rule. However, the skin is rarely eaten. Let’s look at whether you can eat mango skin, or if you should continue peeling it off.
Mangoes are fruits most commonly found in tropical regions. With a delightfully sweet taste and rich texture, they’re delicious whether eaten on their own as a snack, made into a smoothie or even added to salads.
Unripe mangoes are green in colour while ripe mangoes are yellow, orange or red.
Overall, mangoes are extremely good for your health. They’re loaded with fiber, Vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as the minerals potassium and copper. They also contain plenty of essential amino acids lysine, cysteine and valine, and other necessary nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (2).
Mango skin is equally as nutritious. With a healthy dose of polyphenols, carotenoids, dietary fiber, and Vitamins C and E, you’re actually missing out on a lot when you discard their peels (2).
The majority of mango skin is composed of dietary fiber (3). Fiber is an important part of human diet as it improves digestive health and regulates hunger.
Mango skin also has plenty of antioxidants such as polyphenols and carotenoids. This, coupled with the high dose of Vitamin C it contains, can help combat heart disease and cognitive decline (4). It can even fight against some types of cancers – and research shows that mango skin, in particular, is much more effective at this than mango flesh (5).
So, are there any downsides or risks to eating mango skin? Of course, there are a few.
Many people who are not allergic to mangoes themselves may be allergic to its skin as it contains a compound known as urushiol. Urushiol is also found in poison ivy and poison oak, and is only present in the mango peel, i.e. not the flesh (6).
Individuals with this allergy may get an itchy rash or notice their skin beginning to swell if they consume mango peel.
Another issue with eating mango skin is the issue of pesticides. Peeling off the skin before consumption generally decreases one’s exposure to pesticides, however, consuming the skin only increases this exposure.
Increased exposure to pesticides can cause a myriad of problems, ranging from reproductive problems to endocrine disruption (7). However, these effects are only observed upon exposure of high concentrations of pesticides over a prolonged period of time – much more than you would find in a couple of fruit peels.
Regardless, be sure to wash your mango thoroughly before eating it.
In conclusion, mango skin is perfectly safe to eat unless you have an allergy to urushiol. Of course, you may not like the taste or texture of the peel, and that’s perfectly fine! There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables out there which are just as nutritious and from which you can reap similar benefits.
1. Deng, G. F., Shen, C., Xu, X. R., Kuang, R. D., Guo, Y. J., Zeng, L. S., … Li, H. B. (2012). Potential of fruit wastes as natural resources of bioactive compounds. International journal of molecular sciences, 13(7), 8308–8323. doi:10.3390/ijms13078308
2. Maldonado-Celis, M. E., Yahia, E. M., Bedoya, R., Landázuri, P., Loango, N., Aguillón, J., … Guerrero Ospina, J. C. (2019). Chemical Composition of Mango (Mangifera indica L.) Fruit: Nutritional and Phytochemical Compounds. Frontiers in plant science, 10, 1073. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.01073
3. Ajila, C., Bhat, S., & Prasada Rao, U. (2007). Valuable components of raw and ripe peels from two Indian mango varieties. Food Chemistry, 102(4), 1006-1011. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2006.06.036
4. Bouayed, J., & Bohn, T. (2010). Exogenous antioxidants–Double-edged swords in cellular redox state: Health beneficial effects at physiologic doses versus deleterious effects at high doses. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 3(4), 228–237. doi:10.4161/oxim.3.4.12858
5. Kim, H., Moon, J., Kim, H., Lee, D., Cho, M., & Choi, H. et al. (2010). Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of mango (Mangifera indica L.) flesh and peel. Food Chemistry, 121(2), 429-436. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.12.060
6. Lauricella, M., Emanuele, S., Calvaruso, G., Giuliano, M., & D’Anneo, A. (2017). Multifaceted Health Benefits of Mangifera indica L. (Mango): The Inestimable Value of Orchards Recently Planted in Sicilian Rural Areas. Nutrients, 9(5), 525. doi:10.3390/nu9050525
7. Nicolopoulou-Stamati, P., Maipas, S., Kotampasi, C., Stamatis, P., & Hens, L. (2016). Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture. Frontiers in public health, 4, 148. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00148