UNITED STATES—If there is one thing people should know about the tropical fruit, which is known as the mango, it’s the fact that it is a stone fruit. Its close relatives include the peach, the nectarine, the apricot and the plum. It is the national fruit of India and during its American colonization had to be pickled in order to preserve the tasty fruit.

You will know a mango when you see it because of its large size; but it’s important to note that the fruit does come in various sizes.  The one element that separates the mango from countless other fruits is the oval shaped pit or seed that some would call it that sits in the middle of the fruit.  It does make cutting the fruit quite difficult I must say.

Here’s an important tip, when it comes to peeling the fruit.  Make sure that you purchase a mango that is ripe, but not too ripe.  The color of the fruit is important there should be some green, but shades of an orangish red are also important.  If the fruit is too ripe, it will literally fall apart while you cut it. This is known as the ‘hedgehog’ approach to the fruit. You can slice around the pit and then take a small knife and cut the fruit both horizontal and vertical into small little cubes that will fall right out.  If that seems like a bunch of work, just peel the skin, slice around the pit and cut the fruit according to preference.

The fruit is commonly used in chutneys, as well as dips like salsa, guacamole, but I think its better used in fruit salads and to make smoothies. On a nutritional level, mangos are packed with Vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene and potassium. There are specific phytochemicals like triterpene and lupeol that are effective in fighting prostate and various types of skin cancer.

I am a fan of making smoothies by color, if you aiming at an orange looking and tasty smoothie, nothing can beat the combination of mango, apricot, oranges, carrots and butternut squash, and of course bananas to create a drink that is both sweet and packed with vitamin A and veggies for the day.  Just remember careful with butternut squash, it has a distinct taste that has to be countered with sweet to create a balance.

By LaDale Anderson