The juicy and delicious tangerine (Citrus tangerina) is a hybrid of a mandarin and pomelo, two of the “ancestral” citrus species. Though named after the Moroccan city Tangier, the fruit was actually first developed and cultivated by a farmer in Florida in the 1800s. The tangerine is known for its vibrant color and a taste that is sweeter and less sour than a typical navel orange or similar variety. Yet even besides being popular for its appealing flavor, the tangerine is also loaded with nutrients that provide many different health benefits.
Facts About Tangerines
Like other citrus fruits in the Rutaceae family, tangerines are typically grown in tropical or subtropical climates, particularly because the trees themselves are extremely susceptible to damage from cold weather. The small trees tangerines grow on have evergreen leaves and small flowers. Tangerines are smaller than oranges with a less round and more oblate shape. One of the other aspects that distinguishes them from oranges is their thinner skin that is much easier to peel off.
In addition to being eaten by hand like other oranges, tangerines are commonly processed for their juices that can be sold as juice, concentrate, or as a citrus essence. Tangerine juice is sometimes added to regular orange juice as a way to add sweetness and a more distinct orange color. The rind and peel of the tangerine are valuable as a sweetening or flavoring agent for baked goods, teas, or ice cream. Tangerines can also be powdered and used as an ingredient in commercial food products or made into jam or marmalade.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Tangerines
Compared to other fruits like pineapples, bananas, and mangos, tangerines have a relatively low carbohydrate count. One small tangerine has 40 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0.6 grams of protein, and 0.2 grams of fat. As with other kinds of citrus fruit, tangerines are very high in vitamin C; they also contain vitamin A, potassium, folate, magnesium, calcium, thiamin, vitamin B6, and beta-carotene. These vitamins and minerals have been associated with a wide variety of health benefits:
- Immune system: Even a small tangerine has 33% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, an important compound that the body uses for many different functions. Vitamin C has been shown to have a positive impact on the production of the white blood cells that are useful for immune system function in general and in the body’s ability to fight off pathogens.
- Antioxidants: The high vitamin C content in tangerines gives them significant antioxidant properties. During the normal process of cell division, small molecules with unpaired electrons called free radicals are sometimes created. The cell damage caused by free radicals is called oxidative stress, and antioxidants are able to give up electrons in order to render the free radicals inert.
- Heart health: A valuable compound found in tangerine peels is the flavonoid nobiletin. Flavonoids are substances found in plants that are thought to have many potential health benefits. Some research has shown that nobiletin in particular may reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol levels; these effects can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- Skin health: The antioxidant properties of tangerines can have broad reach, including protection from skin cell damage related to free radicals. However, vitamin C is also valuable in that it promotes the synthesis of collagen; collagen is a protein that is one of the building blocks of skin cells and is also important in wound healing.
- Eye health: Research into the effect of vitamin C on the eyes suggests that it supports eye health generally and can delay the formation of cataracts and the development of age-related macular degeneration. Also, beta-carotene gets converted to vitamin A, and vitamin A is important in maintaining normal and low-light vision.
- Digestion: While not a major source of dietary fiber, the 1.4 grams contained in a tangerine can be part of one’s overall daily intake of fiber. Fiber is an indigestible part of plants that aids in digestion and bowel regularity.
- Good for weight loss: Fiber is also beneficial for weight loss because it helps the feeling of fullness after eating that can prevent overeating. Moreover, the relatively low calorie and carbohydrate count make tangerines a delicious and healthy addition to any diet plan.
- Cancer protection: Though more research is needed, some preliminary results indicate that some of the phenolic compounds in tangerines may offer some protection from cancer. One study on the flavonoids tangeretin and nobiletin showed that they seemed to be effective at inhibiting the growth of prostate cancer cells. Also, the overall antioxidant properties of tangerines may also be beneficial because of the protection from free radical damage.
- Bone health: Tangerines also contain calcium and magnesium, two minerals that are important in the growth and maintenance of bones. In general, a diet higher in these minerals leads to greater bone density.
Premium Concentrates and Essences from FruitSmart
Eating tangerines is a healthy choice for many reasons, but the benefits of this amazing fruit are not limited to the fresh variety. Tangerine juice concentrate can be a delicious addition to cocktail mixes, hard seltzers, ciders, kombucha, smoothies, or numerous other beverage products. At FruitSmart, we are passionate about providing high quality juices, concentrates, and essences for any application you can think of. We are eager to work with you to develop a recipe that will deliver an excellent final product for your customers. If you’d like to learn more about any of our products or what it’s like to partner with FruitSmart, please contact us today.