Is It Okay to Eat Mango Skin?

The Benefits and Risks of Eating Mango Skin

Many people peel a mango and discard the skin, but there are benefits to eating the skin, too.
Many people peel a mango and discard the skin, but there are benefits to eating the skin, too. Alexander Rieber / EyeEm, Getty Images

You may bite into an apple to eat it, but you probably don't eat a mango the same way! The peel of a mango fruit is tough, fibrous, and bitter-tasting. Yet, what if you do eat it? Is it good for you? Will it hurt you?

Health Risk of Eating Mango Skin

Although mango skin contains many healthful compounds, you may wish to skip the peel if you are sensitized to urushiol, the active chemical in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Some people get dermatitis from handling or eating mango. In more extreme cases, exposure can cause difficulty breathing. The peel contains more urushiol than the fruit, so it's more likely to produce a reaction.

Even if you've never had a reaction to poison ivy or from eating mango skin, you need to be aware of the risk. You can be exposed to urushiol-containing plants many times or all your life and suddenly become sensitive.

The other potential health risk from eating mango peel comes from pesticides. Since most people, at least in the United States, tend to remove the skin of the fruit, the fruit is often sprayed. If you wish to eat the skin, your best bet is to eat organic mangoes. Otherwise, be sure to wash the fruit before eating it to minimize pesticide residue.

Mango Skin Benefits

Although mango peel causes problems for people sensitized to urushiol, the skin is rich in mangiferin, norathyriol, and resveratrol, powerful antioxidants that may confer protection against cancer and other diseases.

Mangoes are high in fiber (especially if you eat the peel), as well as vitamin A and vitamin C. A 2008 study conducted by Oklahoma State University found eating mangoes may help control blood sugar and cholesterol and reduce body fat. The team found that mango reduces levels of the hormone leptin, a chemical that regulates energy consumption and storage and helps regulate appetite.

Mango Skin and Weight Control

However, the potential weight loss benefits are due primarily to compounds found in the skin of the mango, not the fleshy fruit. Research conducted by the University of Queensland School of Pharmacy found that mango peel extract inhibited adipogenesis (fat cell formation). Although there are many different types of mangoes, two particular varieties scored particularly well with respect to fat inhibition—Nam Doc Mai and Irwin. Peel extract from the Kensington Pride variety had the opposite effect, actually promoting adipogenesis. The researchers noticed the effects were similar to those seen from resveratrol, a well-known antioxidant found in red wine and grapes.


Mango fruit peel and flesh extracts affect adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells, Meng-Wong Taing et al., Food & Function, Issue 8, May 14, 2012.

NCSI Research Finds Health Benefits in Mangos, Oklahoma State University Department of Nutritional Sciences (retrieved March 15, 2016).