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What color mango is the sweetest?

Mangoes come in a wide variety of colors, from yellow and orange to red, green, and even purple. But does the exterior color actually impact the interior sweetness? As mango connoisseurs know, you can’t judge a mango’s sweetness solely by its skin. However, research suggests there may be a connection between mango color and sugar content.

What causes the different mango colors?

Mango color is primarily influenced by the amount and type of pigments present in the fruit skin and flesh. The main pigments that impact mango color are:

  • Chlorophyll – Green pigment that dominates in unripe mangoes.
  • Carotenoids – Yellow, orange, and red pigments that increase as the mango ripens.
  • Anthocyanins – Reddish-purple pigments found in some mango varieties.

As a mango ripens, chlorophyll breaks down and carotenoids accumulate, changing the color from green to yellow, orange, or red. Some varieties also accumulate anthocyanins, creating purple-red tones. The specific mix of pigments leads to the color we see.

How does color relate to ripeness and sweetness?

Since mango color is an indicator of ripeness, it is loosely connected to sweetness. As mangoes ripen, they become sweeter and take on more intense yellow, orange, and red hues from carotenoid accumulation. However, other factors also affect sweetness, so color alone does not guarantee sugar content.

Sweetness differences between mango varieties

Mango varieties have inherent differences in sweetness and color that are genetically determined. For example:

  • Honey mangoes turn yellow when ripe and are exceptionally sweet.
  • Keitt mangoes remain greenish when ripe but are very sweet.
  • Kent mangoes become orange or greenish-yellow and have moderate sweetness.

While trends exist, the interaction between variety, ripeness, and other factors makes it impossible to pinpoint sweetness from color alone.

What impacts mango sweetness?

Mango sweetness is influenced by:

  • Ripening – Sugar content increases as starch converts to sugars.
  • Variety – Some mango varieties are naturally sweeter.
  • Growing conditions – Stress can reduce sugar levels.
  • Post-harvest handling – Proper storage preserves sweetness.

Since many factors impact sweetness, color cannot precisely predict sugar content. The table below demonstrates how mangoes of various colors had overlapping sweetness levels in a study assessing sugar content.

Mango Skin Color Average Brix (Sugar Content)
Green 12.5
Green-Yellow 13.2
Yellow 14.7
Yellow-Orange 13.9
Orange 13.4

How to choose the sweetest mangoes

Instead of relying on color alone, use these tips to select sweeter mangoes:

  • Smell – Ripe, sweet mangoes release an intense fruity aroma.
  • Touch – Mangoes should give slightly when gently squeezed.
  • Weight – Heavier mangoes have more flesh and higher sugar content.
  • Sheen – Mangoes with a waxy bloom tend to be riper and sweeter.
  • Stem – The stem should detach easily, indicating ripeness.

Maximizing mango sweetness

To get the most sugar from your mangoes:

  • Allow mangoes to fully ripen before eating. Keep at room temperature until fragrant and slightly soft.
  • Refrigerate sliced mangoes to slow ripening and maintain sweetness longer.
  • Eat mangoes straight away or preserve them to lock in sugars. Freezing, dehydrating, or canning all work well.


While mango color provides some indication of ripeness and sweetness, many other factors have an equal or greater impact. The skin hue cannot precisely predict interior sugar levels. Instead of fixating on color, learn to select ripe, sweet mangoes based on aroma, touch, weight, sheen, and stem detachment. With the right handling and enjoyment techniques, you can maximize sweetness from mangoes of all shades.