Why You Should Eat More Mango, Including the Skin

There isn’t enough space allotted in this post to accurately describe how I adore mangoes. But I will try. Nothing tastes like a mango. There are no substitutions for its floral aroma, complex sweetness, and glistening flesh. Of course, mango is great sliced directly into salads, blended into smoothies, or just sliced and eaten on its own, but I think mangoes really sing when they are complemented by the right supporting savory flavors.

Try dusting chunks of mango with lime zest, salt, and chile powder for a Mexican-style street snack. Mangoes are also excellent as a marinade base because they contain a ton of natural acidity. Try processing ripe mangoes with onion, garlic, and a bit of olive oil for a beautiful fish or chicken marinade. Reduce the whole mess in a stock pot and hit it with a bit of butter at the end for a gorgeous sauce.

Also, did you know you can eat mango skin? My favorite application is with unripe, green mango skin in Caribbean-influence mango chutney. It’s super nutty and fruity, and the texture is totally supple. A perfect complement to whole-roasted chicken or grilled steak.

However, when it comes eating the skin of a mango, there is important information around health and safety involved. Mango peels contain a small amount of urushiol, a compound found in poison ivy and poison oak. Though the vast majority of it is found on the vines, saps, and stems (not the fruit itself), there's still risk for an allergic reaction for those that are more sensitive to this compound. (Click here for more info.)

In short, mango peels are definitely nutritious, but it's important to be cautious and aware of your reaction to the fruit before proceeding. If you've had a strong reaction to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac in the past, it's best to remove the peel before eating or avoid the fruit altogether. Another trick for testing your mango skin tolerance is to hold the fruit in your bare hands and test to see if you start to feel an itch. 

About the Chef

Stephanie Goldfarb is a Chicago-based chef and national food television personality specializing in seasonal, globally-inspired cuisine. Recognized as the winner of Food Network’s America’s Best Cook competition, and a celebrity chef on Kitchen Inferno and NBC’s Food Fighters, Goldfarb delivers unique and relatable culinary experiences to discriminating and casual diners alike. As the owner of the successful Seven Species Supper Club & Catering, she enjoys the challenge of building brand new menus each month that inspire both repeat clients and newcomers, and seeks opportunities to utilize new ingredients, techniques, and approaches in accessible ways.