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Luscious Lips For The Holidays

 April 25, 2022   Return


So, how did you like my rhyme in the title? Was it as funny for me as it was for you? Guess not. Well, this month we’ll be looking at a common, but well-loved fruit—the mango. The delicious and fragrant fruit has been incorporated into our daily diet and can be found in lassi (a blend of yoghurt, water, and spices), glutinous rice dessert, ice cream, cake, jelly, pickle, salad, curry, and various other food items.


Mango or its scientific name Mangifera indica, is one fruit which has made its way across the globe and is universally known. The ubiquitous mango originates from South Asia, India and Burma (modern day Myanmar), and spread from there. Early European explorers to India anglicized the local name mangay, and it evolved to become mango.1

As it originates from India, the country considers mango to be its national fruit. There, it is known as their King of Fruits (I think it is because those poor, unfortunate souls don’t have access to durian). Buddhist monks are thought to have brought the fruit along when they spread Buddhism to China and the Southeast Asian region at around 400 B.C. As they’ve had a head start in mango cultivation, it comes as no surprise that India is the world’s largest producer of mangoes, accounting for 50% of all the mangoes produced in the world.3


Here’s a little trivia for you. It’s easy to tell the age of a housing area by looking at the presence and height of mango trees. Back when Petaling Jaya was being established as the new satellite town for Kuala Lumpur, mango trees were all the rage and many homes had one planted. In fact, one can tell the age of a housing area from the number and height of its mango trees. These tend to be grown from seed and the quality of the fruits are usually decent, with the trees bearing less tasty fruits having been chopped off earlier.

In recent times, newer homes with smaller lawns and people moving into high rise housing has meant a reduction of big fruit trees being planted in new housing estates. Instead, ornamental palms and smaller shrubs have taken the space of our once common mango and other fruit trees. With these developments, the ubiquitous mango tree may soon be a thing of the past.


Mangoes are nutritious. A serving (about 165 g) contains 10% of your daily recommended fibre intake. The same serving will give you 100% of your daily recommended Vitamin C and 35% of the daily vitamin A intake. It will further contribute to 20% of your daily folate and 10% of the recommended daily vitamin B6 intake. For a fruit, it has a decent amount of trace copper, contributing 10% of the daily recommended intake.


The yellow colour of mango stems from zeaxanthin, which is the pigment also found in corn. This pigment is a natural antioxidant and collects in the retina of the eye. It helps in filtering out blue light emitted from our electronic devices and the sun, thus helping to delay or reduce age-related eyesight degeneration.4


Mangoes have anywhere from 33% to 103% of the recommended daily intake of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is also known as pro-vitamin A and is converted in the body to vitamin A. Mango has one of the highest beta-carotene content in fruit but the amount is also dependent on the variety of mango. 5


Sounds like a spell phrase but these are phenolic compounds which function as antioxidants. Plant phenolic compounds are molecules produced by plants for various functions but in the human body, they can have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiageing properties.7 Again, depending on the variety, mangoes can have moderate phenolic content compared to blackberries. The mango with the highest phenolic content is Ataulfo, which hails from Mexico. Each kilogram of Ataulfo mango has about 1100 mg of phenolic content compared to blackberries, where each kg contains between 5,000 and 8,000 mg of phenolic content. This isn’t bad considering one doesn’t always think of mangoes being rich in antioxidants.5



Mango is related to poison ivy. The sap of the plant contains a chemical known as urushiol. This compound causes dermatitis or skin inflammation, and is easily absorbed by the skin or mucosal lining (the mouth) and causes your immune system to react, thus resulting in blisters and itch. Urushiol is a compound that can be found in some jungle plants such as Rengas, and it is also found in the skin of the cashew seed.



In Malaysia, the most famous variety is known as the Harumanis, which grows well in the state of Perlis. True to its namesake, the Harumanis is both fragrant and sweet. The fruit is deep yellow when cut but is already ripe even before the skin turns yellow. The aroma is strong when eaten. Traditionally, Harumanis is only available between April and May as it coincides with flowering months of December to February. This period of dryness triggers flowering of the mango trees. It is thought that the stress induces the plant to produce flowers, and thus fruits as they are afraid of dying.2

The price of Harumanis is quite high as far as mangoes go. The Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) has a recommended selling price and this year it is RM15 per kg as base price for the premium grade. However, the price is only a recommendation and independent farmers may sell at a higher or lower price depending on market demand. The demand for this fruit has been going up over the years, resulting in more farmers planting this lucrative fruit. However, a Perlis farmer suggested the fruits planted in other regions of the country lack the fragrance of those grown in Perlis. She surmises it could be the climate in Perlis which makes it perfect for the Harumanis to achieve its full potential. Thus, Harumanis from Perlis usually goes for the highest prices among all Harumanis.

Beyond the Harumanis, we have the golden, rather large Alphonso varieties grown predominantly in India and Pakistan. This variety is known as the ‘King of Mangoes’ but it may just be a marketing gimmick rather than fact. Alphonso is characterized by its light orange skin and fibreless pulp and smooth, creamy taste.

Some other varieties we often encounter are the Golden Lily, Red Irwin, Apple, MahaGolek, and more. With more than 200 varieties registered in the country and many more overseas, there are plenty to choose from.6


Irwin mango


Alphonso mango


Apple mango   


As usual, we always encourage our readers to try their hands on greening their house and improving the health of the earth. Planting mangoes is easy enough. It isn’t recommended for you to plant the seeds of mangoes you have eaten because the resulting tree will rarely have the same kind of fruit. It’s simply because the offspring plant has different genetic material than the parent.

What you need to do is identify your favourite variety and check out the plant nurseries or online shops. If they don’t have the variety of mango plant you want, you can always place an order and get them to call you once it arrives.

Mangoes need well-draining soil so if your soil is always waterlogged, then it’s not a suitable plant for your area. According to a farmer, the mango tree puts out new shoots and leaves twice a month. The new shoots and leaves are delicious to pests, so it is best to spray some pest repellent during this time to reduce the risk of damage to the tree.

With proper fertilization and watering, a grafted plant will start producing fruit anywhere from 3 to 5 years after you put it into the ground. The quality and taste of fruits improve with age so don’t be disappointed if the first harvest is poor tasting.

Mangoes need a lot of care as they need to be wrapped by the time they are 1–2 cm in diameter, or fruit flies will lay their eggs in the fruit and destroy the fruits from within as they mature. HT

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References: 1. American Academy of Dermatology. 7 Dermatologists’ Tips For Healing Dry, Chapped Lips. Retrieved from: 2. Stylecraze. Care for Your Lips. Retrieved from: