Mango leaf tea, anyone?

Mango Leaves
Credit: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

We love mangoes for their sweet, tropical flavors and juicy textures, which is why we're always looking for reasons to include them in our summertime recipes. However, recently we were surprised to learn that the fruit isn't the only part of the mango tree that can be enjoyed. In fact, mango leaves are thought to provide certain health benefits.

The mango plant (Mangifera indica) is native to India and belongs to the family Anacardiaceae. The fruit is popular in cuisines across the globe, and leaves of the plant are packed with antioxidants. Mango leaves have been used in ayurvedic medicine throughout the Indian subcontinent for centuries. They have also been used in supplemental treatments of diabetes, as they contain significant stores of vitamins (including A, B, and C) and nutrients that are thought to be beneficial.

A 2010 study by K. A. Shah, M. B. Patel, R. J. Patel, and P. K. Parmar explains, "According to ayurveda, varied medicinal properties are attributed to different parts of mango tree." The research concludes, "Studies indicate mango possesses antidiabetic, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, cardiotonic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory properties," and suggests additional research and further study to confirm the initial encouraging findings, which include the lowering of blood pressure and the management of diabetes.

Mango leaves, which don't always seem as appetizing as a juicy mango fruit, are now popularly consumed by preparing tea using mango leaf extract. Mango leaf tea can be found online, and fresh mango leaves can also be purchased online or in organic markets.

If you'd like to learn more or plant your own, check out our plant page on mango, which will tell you about selections that will thrive in the South and the plant's water and sunlight requirements. If you'd rather stick to the fruit, check out our recipes for Strawberry-Mango Semifreddo, Roasted Corn and Mango Salad, and Tart Mango Paletas, and whip up a mango-infused treat this season.

WATCH: How to Cut a Mango

Have you ever considered adding a cup of mango leaf tea to your daily regimen? Let us know if it's something you swear by or would like to try.