Should you eat mangoes when you are pregnant?
The delicious sweetness, juiciness and fragrance of mangoes are not only admired in India, but all over the world. In our country, a wide variety of mangoes is available to tickle your taste buds during the mango season. And women love whipping up pickles, papads, mango-based desserts, mango dal, mango pulliserry, and juices like aampanah with this amazing fruit. And if you are pregnant, it is natural to crave mangoes more than ever!
However, you might come across friends and relatives who warn you against having mangoes during this phase, because it is believed to cause miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Before you start trusting this myth and avoiding the king of fruits, check out the many benefits of mangoes.
Aspects of mangoes that get a thumbs-up
As you already know, mangoes can be eaten ripe or raw. The nutritional profile changes depending on the state of ripeness. As a mango ripens, the starch present in raw mango gets converted to sugars, which make the fruit sweeter. As a result, the total sugar content increases. Carotenoids increase in quantity too, making the ripe mango golden in colour and nutritious. The vitamin C content on the other hand reduces, as you can make out from the reduced tart taste in ripe mangoes.
Also, mangoes are packed with antioxidants and contain beta carotene, vitamin A, and even some amount of vitamin D. Mangoes also provide you with folate, which is essential for preventing birth defects.
Constipation, which often accompanies pregnancy, can be relieved due to the fibre content of mangoes. A 100 g portion of ripe banganapally mango gives about 1.9 g of fibre. Having mangoes can also keep you feeling full for longer, as it has high fibre content.
Aspects of mangoes that get a thumbs-down
- The sugar content: As mentioned earlier, as the fruit ripens, the sugar content also increases. Given that they are so hard to resist, you can very soon find yourself eating more that you should. This is the reason why, having too many mangoes can lead to weight gain and raise blood glucose levels. So, if you are overweight or diabetic or at risk of developing gestational diabetes, you might want to give ripe mangoes a miss. You can still eat raw mangoes though.
- However, if you are underweight and need calories, then ripe mangoes are a healthy alternative to unhealthy options like ice creams and cakes.
- Use of ripening agents: Calcium carbide is a ripening agent that is commonly used for ripening mangoes artificially in India. It is a dangerous chemical which was banned by the Indian government in 2016. However, its use continues in many places. Calcium carbide affects the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia. Consumption of fruits contaminated with calcium carbide can cause headache, dizziness, sleepiness, memory loss, cerebral oedema, numbness in the legs and hands, general weakness, cold and damp skin, low blood pressure and seizure. So, it is a particularly harmful chemical for pregnant women.
Eating mangoes the right and safe way:
- Always buy and consume organically certified mangoes.
- Avoid mangoes that are available off season or very early on in the season. There is a high chance of them being artificially ripened. Fruits artificially ripened will also have lesser flavour and shorter shelf-life.
- You can always buy raw mangoes and ripen them at home.
- Washing and peeling the skin before consuming the fruit can help in reducing the intake of chemicals.
- Try and eat the mango whole and not as a smoothie or juice. This will help you to track the amount consumed, as very often, a smoothie may contain pulp from more than one mango. Blending a fruit changes the structure of the fibre too and makes it less dense. Hence, you might need to drink a whole glass or two of smoothie before you start to feel full.
- Juices also tend to contain added sugars, which is not a good idea during pregnancy. So, it’s best to give juices a miss, and eat the whole fruit.
- Incorporate raw mangoes in salads (say a chickpea and raw mango salad) and gravies in place of tomatoes or tamarind, to enhance the nutrition value and taste.
Mangoes are nutritional powerhouses that contain ample dietary fibre, antioxidants, folate and vitamins. However, ripe mangoes are high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation when you are pregnant, to prevent excessive weight gain or gestational diabetes. Raw mangoes are loaded with vitamin C, have less sugar content and can be enjoyed without guilt though.