“Mangoes can improve sight, prevent cancer” – Dr Ochuko Erikainure

Mangoes are in season in Nigeria and nutritionists are asking Nigerians to consume the fruit saying it has properties that can improve sight.

Dr Ochuko Erikainure, a nutritionist and biochemist said that mangoes can reduce the progression of age-related macular degeneration and has other health benefits.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that causes one to lose central vision, usually in both eyes, thereby making the vision to be blurred, reading difficult and people’s face difficult to recognise.

Dr. Erukainure, who is also a principal research officer at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, Lagos said Nigeria ranks 10th position in the world for mango production, making three per cent of the world’s total production with “Kerosene” and “Sherri” mango species being the most common from Nigeria.

He mentioned other health benefits of mango to include “the ability to reduce risk of obesity and overweight, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and skin diseases.” there ability to do all these he says are due to its nutritional and phytochemical constituents.

“They are also rich in dietary fibres and vitamins; only Vitamin C and Vitamin B9 are in significant amounts to meet the daily value of 44 and 11 per cent, respectively. Mangoes are rich in calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and magnesium. The high calcium and phosphorus contents contribute to bone health and its dietary fibre prevents constipation,’’ he said.

According to him, “Mangoes contain a unique poly phenol mangiferin which is a potent antioxidant and is responsible for most of its health benefits.”

Erikainure added that the peels of mangoes have shown that they can inhibit major carbohydrate digestive enzymes that are linked to type 2 diabetes.

He said these includes pancreatic amylase and glucose 6 phosphatase.

“These enzymes slow down the breakdown of carbohydrate, thereby making the availability of glucose for absorption into the blood stream.

“Mangoes are also rich in beta-carotene and carotenoid alcohol and zexanthin which are potent antioxidants and help to maintain retinal health by protecting them against damage from macular degeneration. Beta-carotene has also been associated with reduced risk of developing asthma,’’ Erikainure said.

Rafat S.