Should You Be Eating Mango Skins?

Mangoes are some of the most beloved tropical fruits around the world. They emit sweet flavors and have a juicy, delicate texture similar to the consistency of creamy butter. While the exact flavor profiles of the flesh can vary across cultivars, all mangoes have a protective outer peel that turns hues of yellowish-orange to red when ripe. Typically this reddish rind is tossed in the trash when cutting a mango.

But if you're accustomed to eating other fruit peels (e.g. kiwis, pears, and apples) for their high phytochemical and fiber content, it's natural to wonder if this applies to mango skins too. According to WebMD, it's completely safe to eat the skin. But should you? Let's weigh the pros and cons.

One 2015 study found that mango peels contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols, carotenoids, and other helpful compounds. Polyphenols in particular (which are also found in tea and coffee) exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may reduce the odds of cardiovascular diseases, shares a study published in the Current Atherosclerosis Reports.

Mango rinds are also high in fiber, points out an older study published in Food Chemistry. The researchers explain that peels account for 20% of the fruit, and the riper the mango, the more fiber the skin has. The high fiber content found in mango peels also lowers the chances of diverticular disease, says WebMD.

The downsides of eating mango peels

So, should you be racing to add mango skins to your breakfast plate? Maybe not. Taking a look at the drawbacks, there are a couple of factors to consider before plopping the skin into your mouth.

Unlike their fleshy neighbor, the rind isn't sweet. Peels are often bitter with a tough texture that's hard to chew, so it may take a minute to get used to it, explains WebMD.

Moreover, eating the skin could trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals since the mango rinds contain a compound called urushiol (via Healthline). This is the same chemical found in poison oak and poison ivy.

In addition, consuming mango peels might also increase your exposure to pesticides, warns Healthline. High, routine exposure to pesticides can cause both acute health effects (e.g. rashes, dizziness, diarrhea, and more) and chronic health effects (e.g. cancer, reproductive problems, damage to the endocrine system, etc.), points out Californians for Pesticide Reform. 

That being said, mango peels are still considered safe to eat and packed with nutrients and fibers. So, if you aren't allergic and can get over the flavor and texture, adding mango skins can be a great addition to your diet. But it isn't necessary.

Healthline shares that you can get all the vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber your body needs by eating diverse and colorful whole foods, so feel free to toss that mango peel in the compost if you would prefer.