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Marvellous Mangoes

New research suggests that mango may be effective in preventing or halting breast or colon cancers. The American National Mango Board commissioned a variety of studies which tested the effects of mango polyphenol extracts in the laboratory on colon, breast, lung, leukaemia and prostate cancers. Mango showed some impact on lung, leukaemia and prostate cancers, but was particularly effective on breast and colon cancers. Importantly, the mango polyphenols did not harm normal cells.

The study found that the cell cycle was interrupted, providing crucial information on how the cancer cells may be stopped. The researchers suggest that mango polyphenols may prevent cells from mutating or becoming damaged.

The researchers hope to undertake a small clinical trial with individuals who have intestinal inflammation with an increased risk of cancer.

Mangoes are enjoyed in many parts of the world, but little has been known about their health attributes. They are low in antioxidants when compared with blueberries, acai or pomegranates, but it appears that they may have previously undetected anti-cancer properties. They are fantastic eaten raw: a mango hedgehog can be enjoyed by children as a healthy dessert, or the spikes can be removed and put into a fruit salad.  Mango can be added to smoothies and lassi or why not try this delicious low sugar cake made with dried mango?

Banana and Mango Cake

75g (2½oz) chopped dried mango

175g (6oz) wholemeal self-raising flour

50g (2oz) desiccated coconut

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

125g unsalted butter, melted

3 bananas, mashed

2 eggs, free range

50g (2oz) caster sugar or xylitol

10-12 no added sugar banana chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and base line a 20cm/8inch cake tin.

2. Place the mango in a small bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes and then drain thoroughly.

3. Place the flour, coconut, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the mango pieces.

4. Place the melted butter, bananas, eggs and sugar in a liquidiser and blend until smooth. Add to the flour and mix thoroughly.

5. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and decorate with the banana chips.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then on a wire rack.

To make a mango hedgehog, slice down each side of a mango from top to bottom, close to the stone, so you have two ‘almost halves’ with a middle slice clinging to the stone (you may find that the children fight over who gets this bit!). Cut across the flesh of each mango half in parallel lines, carefully so as not to cut through the skin. Now cut across these lines in the same way, so you have criss-crossed flesh with the skin intact. Turn the skin in on itself so you have a mound of spikes to decorate with raisins for eyes and a nose.

Mango Blueberry Smoothie, adapted from a recipe by MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN , published: January 27, 2010 in The New York Times

This drink is similar to lassi, made tangy with buttermilk (or yogurt), mango and spoonful of lime juice. If you want to make a nondairy version, use almond milk or rice milk.

1 heaped cup ripe mango, fresh or frozen

1 cup buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt, or for a nondairy version almond or rice milk

2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (to taste)

6 raw almonds (untoasted)

2 or 3 ice cubes if desired

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend at high speed until smooth.