By Dr Nikhil D Datar
Pregnancies are not seasonal. Mangoes are a summer fruit, savoured in various forms such as mango pickle, aam panna, mango pudding and simply raw, too. Before you lay your hands on mangoes in pregnancy, you may have already been warned about the elders to refrain eating them or stick only to an occasional intake. But come summer and most pregnant women usually have one question: "Doctor, can I eat mangoes?" It is a common myth that mangoes are harmful during pregnancy.
What a mango contains
A mango is a power-packed fruit. Mangoes are rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamin A, C and D. Antioxidants have been shown to play an important role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. They also contain bioflavonoids, the compounds which boost the immune system. Mangoes also supply potassium and fibre, which prevents constipation.
Mango is a rich source of calories and sugars
While a mango has nothing that can harm a baby in the womb, it does have a high calorific load. So mango consumption can definitely cause significant weight gain and increase blood sugar levels. Thus, it is not advisable to have the fruit for obese mothers or diabetic mothers.
Mangoes help to prevent anaemia during pregnancy
Most pregnant women in India suffer from low haemoglobin. Mangoes may not be the richest source of iron, but the fruit does help in preventing anaemia.
How does Ayurveda look at mango eating in pregnancy?
The "king of fruits" is known to Indians for at least 6,000 years. It finds mention in ancient Sanskrit literature, such as "Valmiki’s Ramayana". Ayurveda believes that mangoes balance all the three doshas and acts as an energiser. The Ayurvedic qualities of green mango are sour, astringent and cooling. I spoke to my Ayurvedic colleagues about their perspective on eating mango during pregnancy and they informed that they do not consider mangoes unsafe for consumption during pregnancy.
The myth that mangoes should be avoided during pregnancy
No one knows the reason for this myth. For many years, mangoes were picked unripe from trees and ripened artificially with calcium carbide, a dangerous chemical. This trend could be behind the need to avoid mangoes during pregnancy. However, since 2016, Indian FDA has banned use of this chemical for artificially ripening mangoes.
Enjoy mangoes, but take care of:
Do not overdo mangoes. They are calorie bombs.
It is generally a good strategy to consume any high calorie food at breakfast, but not at dinner.
Wash the fruit thoroughly so that all chemicals are removed from the skin.
Prefer eating organic fruits of good quality.
Avoid extra calories by adding cream, ice-cream or sugar.
Try to reduce intake of pickle as it is high on salt and oil. It can increase acidity too.
If you are an overweight or diabetic, avoid it. Instead, consume low calorie seasonal fruits like melons.
Remember to balance your calories.
Peel of the skin before eating the fruit.
(The writer is Medical Director & Senior Obesetriction and Gynaecologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals.)