Tangerines (Citrus reticulata) are sweet and tart fruits belonging to the citrus family. They are named after their place of origin in Tangier, Morocco. While they look similar to oranges, they are actually smaller with more water, less acid, and sugar in comparison. They have reddish-orange peels that are easy to remove by hand. There are many hybrid varieties of tangerines available today. Going further in the article, we explore the key tangerine benefits, nutrition facts, varieties, and a few easy recipes.
Varieties Of Tangerine Fruit
Let’s first begin with the various types of tangerines available today.
Many people wonder if tangerines and clementines are the same things. Tangerines are closely related to clementines, as both are members of the Citrus reticulata family. Similarly, there are a few more hybrid varieties of tangerine as mentioned below.
1. Tangelos (honeybells) – a hybrid between tangerine and grapefruit (Citrus paradisi).
Tangelos have loose skin and juicy sweet-flavored arils similar to tangerines. Unlike oranges, these have a characteristic knob at the stem end of the fruit.
2. Tangors (Citrus nobilis) – a hybrid between tangerines (C. reticulata) and sweet oranges (C. sinensis). These are usually large in size with a sweet-tart flavor like oranges.
3. Clementines – a hybrid between a mandarin and sweet oranges. These are seedless, sweet, and juicy, smaller in size with smooth, glossy skin.
4. Yuzu (Japanese citrus) – a hybrid between papeda (C. ichangensis) and mandarin oranges (C. reticulata). These have a tart flavor and a lime-like intense fragrance.
Going further, let’s see how much nutrition can a tangerine fruit provide you with.
Tangerine Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, a small-sized tangerine can provide you with 40 calories and the following nutrients (1).
- Calories: 40
- Fat: 0.2g
- Sodium: 1.5mg
- Carbohydrates: 10.1g
- Fiber: 1.3g
- Sugars: 8g
- Protein: 0.6g
- Vitamin C: 26.7mg
Tangerines are packed with vitamin C and are low in calories. While tangerines are a good source of many beneficial minerals and vitamins, they are low in protein, fats, and fiber. All this together can provide us with various health benefits.
Potential Health Benefits Of Tangerines
Citrus fruits including tangerines have long been valued for their refreshing taste, wholesome nutrition, and antioxidant properties. Below, we explore some of the key tangerine benefits.
- Rich In Antioxidants
Like other citrus fruits, tangerines are rich in citrus antioxidant flavonoids like hesperidin, naringin, narirutin, etc. that have important antioxidant properties. They help get rid of toxic free radicals from your body (2). Some researchers believe that consuming antioxidant-rich foods or supplements may help reduce or prevent certain types of inflammation (3).
- Rich In Immunity-Boosting Vitamin C
Tangerines, being citrus fruits, are naturally packed with an abundance of vitamin C (3). Vitamin C is one of the powerful natural antioxidants that play multiple important roles in boosting our health and immunity. It is essential in collagen synthesis, wound healing, antiviral, anti-cancer activity, preventing neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, cold, and fever (4).
- May Help Prevent Eye Damage
Vitamin C content in tangerines has also been found to be effective in delaying the onset of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. This may help keep your eyes healthy for longer (5).
- May Help Reduce Risks Of Cancer
Flavonoids, coumarins, and limonoids found in citrus fruits have been indicative of a reduced risk of various cancers. Research supports the potential anti-tumor effects of nobiletin and tangeretin found in the tangerine extract (6).
- May Help Improve Heart Health
Tangerines contain naturally soluble and insoluble fiber like hemicellulose, pectin, etc. which prevent cholesterol absorption in the gut (7). Tangerine peels contain another antioxidant, a super-flavonoid called tangeretin with promising effects in lowering cholesterol (8). Hesperidin, the most prominent flavonoid in tangerine might also help reduce high blood pressure (9). All this together might help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease overall.
Now that we know the health benefits of tangerine, let’s also be aware of the possible adverse effects of having tangerines.
While tangerines are presumably safe, there might be a possibility for allergy in case you are allergic to other citrus fruits.
People with citrus allergies should avoid tangerines, especially raw or juiced. You might develop an allergy because of cross-reactivity with other pollen allergens as well (10). Common signs of an allergy would include itching, redness, swelling, or even burning on touching the skin or fruit pulp of tangerine. The allergy might cause digestive or respiratory problems as well. In case you suspect an allergic reaction to tangerine, consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis to help manage it better.
Tangerines and oranges both belong to the citrus family and are sometimes used interchangeably. Though both have a similar nutrient profile and culinary uses, there are a few differences that might help tell them apart.
Tangerine Vs. Orange: How Are They Different?
It’s common for many people to confuse tangerines and oranges given they belong to the same citrus family and look similar. Let’s help you know how tangerines are actually different from oranges.
Tangerines originated in Florida.
Oranges originated in Asia.
It is a fruit of the Citrus tangerina species.
It is a fruit of the Citrus sinensis species.
Tangerines are a subgroup of mandarin fruits.
Oranges are a hybrid of the pomelo and mandarin fruits.
Tangerines are flattened and petite.
Oranges are more rounded and larger.
Softer to the touch when ripe.
Oranges are usually firm and heavy when ripe.
They are usually more reddish-orange.
Oranges are more yellowish-orange.
Tangerines have very thin, loose skin, that is easy to peel.
Oranges have a tighter skin that is
more difficult to peel.
Tangerines are in their prime from late
October through January.
Most oranges are in their prime from
November through March.
When Is It Best To Have Tangerines?
Tangerines are usually grown in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. Though available seasonally from November to April, these are best had at their prime harvest period from late October through January.
To choose the best juicy tangerines, pick the ones that feel heavy for their size. The fruit should be firm with a shiny, bright uniform color and ripe, fragrant smell. Smaller tangerine fruits are usually known to taste better.
Also, there are certain things to keep in mind to ensure the safe handling of tangerines.
Storage And Food Safety
Like all other fruits, it’s best to have tangerines fresh to enjoy their optimum taste and nutrient benefits. However, there might be times when you would like to store them for later consumption. Below, we discuss how you should choose a good tangerine fruit and how to store them for later use.
Tangerines are winter fruits but can now be found in supermarkets all throughout the year. Fresh tangerines have a bright orange color and feel heavy to hold. You should avoid fruits that are too soft, with spots or that feel light and hollow to hold.
The peel of tangerines helps keep the edible arils/segments safe from contamination. You can remove the surface dirt or wax by gently cleaning with a moist cloth. Peel the skin with your clean hands, remove the seeds, and separate the segments to enjoy the fresh and juicy fruit.
You can store tangerines on your counter-top at room temperature if you intend to eat them within a week. Otherwise, you can also place them in a zip-lock pouch bag and refrigerate them to keep them fresh and juicy for up to 2 weeks.
To freeze tangerines, you should peel them first. Place the small tangerine sections in a freezer-safe sealed bag with little to no air. This way, they can stay fresh in the freezer for up to a year.
Now that we have understood the details about tangerine benefits and possible side effects, let’s look at a few easy recipes to help you enjoy this fruit.
Tangerines can be eaten standalone as a fruit or as a healthy dessert combined with cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, or ricotta cheese. Tangerine sauce is also a great addition to vegetable, seafood, and poultry dishes. You can add their refreshingly sweet and citrusy flavor to salads, sides, and main courses. You may use tangerines in place of or in addition to any other citrus fruits.
1. Choco-dipped Tangerines
- Tangerine (peeled, segmented) – 1
- Dark chocolate (melted) – 10g
- Take a tangerine segment and dip till half in the melted chocolate.
- Repeat for all the segments.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Place these chocolate-dipped segments on the baking tray.
- Keep aside to set in the fridge for an hour or overnight.
2. Tangerine Martini
- Freshly squeezed tangerine juice – 3 fluid ounces
- Vodka – 1 ½ fluid ounces
- Orange-flavored liqueur (such as Cointreau®) – 1 teaspoon
- Take the ice in a martini shaker and pour the tangerine juice over it.
- Add in the vodka and orange liqueur as well.
- Cover and shake vigorously.
- Pour and serve in a martini glass.
To Sum Up
Tangerines, though look similar to oranges, are actually a different species in the same citrus family. Smaller in size and with easily peelable skin, they make for a healthy snack anytime.
Packed with vitamin C and other important nutrients, the key tangerine benefits can make them a significant addition to your healthy meal plans.
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- Tangerines (mandarin oranges) raw
- Citrus peel as a source of functional ingredient: A review
- Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health
- Vitamin C: An Antioxidant Agent
- Vitamin C and the Lens: New Insights into Delaying the Onset of Cataract
- The flavonoid nobiletin inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis of ovarian cancers via the Akt pathway
- Dietary Fiber Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Disease
- Hepatic Lipidomics Analysis Reveals the Antiobesity and Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Tangeretin in High-Fat Diet-Fed Rats
- Effect of Hesperidin on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: The Role of Intestinal Microbiota on Hesperidin Bioavailability
- Citrus Allergy from Pollen to Clinical Symptoms