HEALTH

A hot Latino superfood: Mango, a sweet mix of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

Latinos come from all different countries in Central and Southern America with a variety of cuisines and different foods that are unique to each country. Although different dishes exist, there are definitely popular favorites all across the board. One food that I can bet most Latinos love are mangos. We Latinos grew up with this fruit and included it in our diets because of its sweet and unique flavor. 

But did you know that mangoes are a superfood?

Although there is no official, scientific definition of a superfood, I define it as hard-working functional foods that far exceed basic nutritional content. To me they are, quite simply, the cleanest, most powerful, antioxidant-rich, phytonutrient-rich and anti-aging foods available anywhere. Therefore, I consider mangos a superfood — they are bursting with antioxidants and over 20 different vitamins and minerals. 

In just a one cup serving, mangos provide you with 35 percent of vitamin A and 100 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Both are strong antioxidants that, through research, have been proven to help improve immune functions and can help prevent oxidative damage.

Mangos are known for their sweet flavor, but don’t let the sweetness fool you. Mango consumption has been associated with lower blood sugar levels. Although more research is needed on the effects of mango consumption on human health, emerging research suggest that mango consumption may help lower blood sugar levels in obese adults. 

In addition, we know that mangos contain a complex mixture of polyphenolic compounds. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry studied the antioxidant polyphenols in mango to help determine how these potential anti-cancer bioactive compounds are broken down and absorbed. Such compounds, which are ingested as part of the diet, help to protect normal body cells from being damaged.

Another reason to enjoy mangos is because they are delicious. You can have them just as, peeling away at the skin and tasting the unique flavor that is a mango. You can also add it to smoothies, create decadent desserts, toss them in a refreshing salad, or add them to a breakfast oatmeal. But have you ever tried cooking with them? Cooking with mangos allows you to pair with many different, savory dishes, intensifying the unique flavor, and having an explosive experience.  

As a native Peruvian, I am heavily influenced by the fusion cuisine that is Peruvian food. Historically, Peru has always been a combination of different cultures including French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, native Peruvian cultures. One of the more iconic dishes from Peru is Lomo Saltado, which is a beef stir fry, and a good example of a Chinese fusion dish in our cuisine. Inspired by the Lomo Saltado fusion, I decided to thrown in mango to add a sweet compliment to the savory notes of the dish. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I enjoyed making and eating it.

Beef stir fry with mango

Ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound beef tri-tip or filet mignon, thinly sliced into stick-shaped pieces
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 red onion, cut into “sticks”
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon aji paste or other chili paste
1 red bell pepper, cut into “sticks”
1 green bell pepper, cut into “sticks”
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 cup mango, cubed

Directions
1. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a wok or large sauté pan. Place the meat in a pan and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until meat is brown. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the remaining tablespoon of canola oil and add the onions. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, aji, peppers, vinegar, and soy sauce to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Return the beef to the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the cilantro and the mango. Stir and serve immediately.

Servings: 4   Serving size: 1 serving

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian in private practice, MV Nutrition, award winning nutrition and weight loss center in San Francisco. He is the founder and creator of Eating Free, an international weight management and wellness program and author of three books, Eating Free: The Carb Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-Aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes and his newest book, Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss.

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