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Smooth, juicy, and delicious — it’s no wonder mangos have been dubbed as “the king of fruits” in some parts of the world. But there’s more to the mango than just its unique flavor. Mangos are full of health-enhancing properties, especially for boosting the immune system, lowering the risk of certain cancers, and improving digestive health. Nutritionally, physically, and in many other ways, mangos share a lot of the same characteristics as citrus fruits. But is mango a citrus fruit?
In a word: no, the mango is not a citrus fruit. True, it may share many common properties with citrus fruits, but mangos do not fall under this horticultural group. The mango is a member of the cashew family, scientifically known as the Anacardiaceae family. Citrus fruits, on the other hand, are classified under the Rutaceae family. In this article, we’ll dive deep into mango fruit’s history, the conditions where they can thrive, their characteristics, health benefits, and why they are often grouped in the same category as citrus fruits.
The Mango as a Tropical Fruit from the Anacardiaceae family: The Journey From India to the United States
The mango has been cultivated for over 4000 years. Said to have originated in India, it has embedded itself in history as a staple in the country’s religious ceremonies. In fact, Buddha himself was said to have reached a deep meditative state under its shade. And so, as Buddhism grew in Southeast Asia, so did the popularity of the mango. In the 10th century, Persians came across mangos and adopted them as part of their trade. They were responsible for bringing it to east Africa. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers brought it back to Brazil, where its popularity grew and was brought to Barbados, Mexico, and eventually to the United States.
Because of its origins, the mango is considered a tropical fruit. Now here’s where the confusion may root from — citrus fruits are generally regarded as tropical fruits. However, the distinction lies in their tolerance levels of cooler temperatures. Citrus fruits can still thrive even when the temperature dip, but mangos, in true tropical fruit fashion, cannot.
So, in terms of characterizing the mango based on its botanical family as a tropical plant, it is part of the genus Anacardium. Citrus fruits, on the other hand, are classified under the Rutaceae family.
The Key Differences of Mangos and Citrus Fruits
Are mangos a citrus fruit? We’ve already established that it is not, but to support this further, here are the main factors that distinguish the mango from the citrus family:
The mango is relatively low in caloric content but is packed with nutrients. In fact, a cup of it only has roughly 100 calories but is rich in vitamin A, B, and C. This makes it an excellent dietary addition for preventing cancer, curing fatigue, preventing strokes, and improving vision.
Equally as healthy are citrus fruits; on the other hand, they are touted for the relief it brings to arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, kidney stones, fever, flu, and headache. Both are a great supplement to your diet, especially because they offer a plethora of benefits.
Taste and Appearance
The mango has a smoother peel on the outside, while citrus fruits are more leathery on the outside.
Inside, the mango is sweet and fleshy with its seed inside the pit, as with most stone fruits. On the other hand, Citrus fruits are more succulent and flavorful, complete with that distinctive sour and sweet combination. They can both be easily planted and cultivated, however. It is just a matter of saving the seeds from these fruits and getting them ready for planting.
Mango belongs to the Mangifera genus, grouped under the Anacardiaceae or cashew family. Specifically, it is considered as a variety that belongs under stone fruits. Drupes or, more commonly, stone fruits are called as such because their pit or “stone” can be found inside the fleshy area of the fruit.
Meanwhile, the citrus group is the generic name for those belonging to the Rutaceae family. They are characterized by their strong scents and flowers that are typically divided into 4 or 5 parts. Samples of fruit that fall under this category are lemon, lime, oranges, grapefruits, and citron.
Mangos, as true tropical fruits, thrive in a warm to hot climate. They prefer humidity over cooler temperatures and frost. In fact, they can barely withstand dips in temperature, unlike citrus fruits that can be classified as subtropical plants.
Subtropical fruits are those that originate in areas to the north and south of the tropical zone. Typically, they are able to withstand a few cooler days in the month but still thrive in a hot climate.
Possible Side Effects of Overeating These Fruits
As much as they are dense in nutrients, eating too many mangos and citrus fruits can have side effects too. This is another area that differentiates mangos from other fruits in the citrus family. See, consuming too many mangos can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, diarrhea, and eventual weight gain. Eating too many citrus fruits, on the other hand, can cause heartburn and tooth decay because of their high acid content.
The Conclusion: Is Mango a Citrus Fruit?
Despite the many similarities that mangos and some citrus fruits may have, the mango is not a citrus fruit. The difference can be broken down into multiple categories, but one can easily spot their difference just by looking at them. Mangos, for example, are more fleshy on the inside and smoother on the outside compared to the more succulent and leathery citrus fruits.
Even the authorities have convened and have set apart mangos from citrus fruits in the Plantae kingdom. Still, despite these differences, both mangos and citrus fruits provide a plethora of benefits that can help you stay on top of your health because they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.