Do you peel a mango before eating it?

Mangoes are one of the most popular fruits around the world. Their sweet, creamy flesh and tropical flavor make them a summertime favorite. But before you can enjoy that sweet mango taste, you have to get past the skin. This brings up the age-old question – should you peel a mango before eating it?

Pros and Cons of Peeling Mangoes

There are good arguments on both sides of the mango peeling debate. Here are the main pros and cons:

Pros of Peeling Cons of Peeling
Removes any dirt or pesticides Peeling removes beneficial nutrients and fiber in the skin
Prevents messy juice from dripping Peeling takes time and can be tricky
Can avoid contact with skin irritants like urushiol Can lose flesh and flavor if you cut too deep

As you can see, there are good points on both sides. Peeling makes for a neater eating experience and removes any contaminants, but you lose nutrition and it can be wasteful. So what’s the verdict?

Nutrition in Mango Skin

One of the main reasons not to peel mangoes is to retain the nutrients found in the skin. Mango skins contain beneficial compounds like:

  • Fiber – Mangoes contain soluble and insoluble fiber in the skin which helps regulate digestion.
  • Antioxidants – The skin is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamin C which can help combat disease.
  • Phytochemicals – Compounds like gallotannins and mangiferin in the skin have medicinal properties.

In many cultures, mango skin is eaten and used to make chutneys or ground into powder. Utilizing the whole fruit makes sense nutritionally and reduces waste.

Pesticide Residues on Mango Skin

One reason people choose to peel mangoes is to remove any pesticide residues that may be present on the skin. Mangoes consistently test positive for a number of pesticides including:

Pesticide Potential Health Effects
Carbendazim Hormone disruption, reproductive damage
Thiabendazole Nausea, headaches, liver damage
Imazalil Allergic reactions, neurotoxicity

Washing mangoes first will help remove some external residues. However, peeling removes the residues more fully. If you are concerned about ingesting pesticides, peeling makes sense.

How to Peel a Mango

If you opt to peel your mangoes, here are some tips for peeling them neatly and efficiently:

  1. Wash the mango first to remove dirt and residues. Use a produce wash or gentle scrub brush if needed.
  2. Stand the mango upright on a cutting board. Hold it steady with one hand.
  3. With a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, slice off strips of skin starting from the top down.
  4. Rotate the mango as you peel to remove all the skin.
  5. Use short horizontal cuts for stubborn spots. Make sure not to cut too deeply.
  6. Once peeled, slice and dice the mango as desired. Enjoy!

For ripe, juicy mangoes, it is usually easiest to peel them when they are chilled. This prevents messy drips.

How to Eat Mango Skin

If you want to take advantage of the nutrients in the mango skin, there are ways to safely eat both ripe and unripe skins:

  • Fully ripe skins – Rinse them, then eat off what you can with your teeth. The skin should tear off easily when ripe.
  • Unripe skins – Slice very thin slivers to eat raw. Or, cook the skins by dehydrating, boiling, or adding to smoothies.
  • Dried powder – Remove skins from ripe mangoes, dry them, and grind into a nutritious powder.
  • Chutney – Cook peeled mango skins with spices to make flavorful chutney sauces and spreads.

Keep in mind that eating mango skins can sometimes cause reactions in those with sensitivities. Introduce a small amount first to check for irritation.

Risks of Eating Mango Skins

While mango skins provide benefits, there are also some risks and things to consider:

  • Pesticide residues – As mentioned earlier, pesticide residues tend to collect on the skin and may pose health risks when consumed.
  • Fiber content – The skin contains a lot of fiber. Eating too much may cause digestive issues for some.
  • Mango mouth – The sap in mango skins contains urushiol which can cause skin and mouth blistering similar to poison ivy.
  • Contamination – Bacteria and chemicals can reside on the skin’s surface.

Washing the skins thoroughly can help reduce contamination risks. Start small if eating mango skins and stop if you notice any irritation.

Alternatives to Peeling Mangoes

If you want to avoid peeling mangoes but are concerned about pesticides and juiciness, there are some alternatives:

  • Purchase organic mangoes when possible to reduce pesticide residues.
  • Use wax paper or a plate underneath while cutting mangoes to catch drips.
  • Freeze mangoes briefly before slicing to reduce mess and allow for thinner slices.
  • Consume the flesh off skins first, then return later to eat remaining skin.
  • Juice or blend mangoes skins into smoothies to make them easier to consume.


Whether to peel mangoes or not is an individual choice based on your priorities. If you want to reduce consumption of pesticides and care mostly about food safety, peeling makes sense. But if you want to maximize nutrition and minimize waste, eating the skins in moderation may be reasonable.

There are good arguments on both sides. Try both methods and see which you prefer. Mangoes are a delicious and healthy fruit that offer great benefits even when peeled. Just be sure to handle the raw fruit appropriately and introduce mango skins slowly to find what works best for you.

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