Mandarin Fruit Color, Shape, and Taste
Mandarins, also called tangerines or satsumas, are a traditional favorite when in season. It is such a beloved favorite, in fact, it is one of the only varieties of oranges canned for year-round consumer enjoyment.
This citrus variety is smaller than the navel orange and possesses a looser skin that is easier to peel. Typically this orange is sweeter than its cousins and is widely sought after when in season.
Mandarin Fruit History
Native to Asia, early traders and visitors to China coveted the seeds and took them home, allowing this tree to literally spread its roots around the world.
Today, it is popular throughout the world, including Morocco, Australia, Japan, the United States, and China. In fact, mandarin oranges are traditional symbols of abundance during the Chinese New Year.
Mandarin Fruit Nutrition Facts
A single tangerine serving consists of one cup of raw orange segments. One cup, or approximately 195 grams, offers 103 calories; 5 of these calories come from fats.
This serving contains 1 gram of fat, 4 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of protein, and 26 grams of carbohydrates. The total amount of carbohydrates may be broken further down into 4 grams of dietary fiber and 21 grams of naturally occurring sugars.
Tangerines are a lower calorie food, making them a good choice for weight loss or weight management. Their sugar count makes them an excellent choice for a quick energy boost as well.
Health Benefits – Vitamins Found In Mandarins
Mandarin oranges offer a strong vitamin profile. Like most of the citrus family, they offer significant amounts of vitamin C, 87% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
If you enjoy two cups each day, you’d be consuming 174% of the body’s vitamin C needs. This vitamin is crucial to strengthening the immune system; it also works as an antioxidant throughout the body, rounding up and destroying free radicals.
Left unchecked, these detrimental elements can contribute to chronic diseases and certain types of cancer. Mandarins also contain about 27% of the RDA for vitamin A, and 8% for thiamin, B6, and folate.
The B complex vitamins all help the body metabolize energy; folate is particularly important for expecting mothers as it can prevent neural tube defects in infants. Other vitamins present at 5% or less of the body’s needs include vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
Health Benefits – Minerals Found In Mandarins
This sweet fruit also offers a good mineral profile. Potassium takes the lead at 9%, followed by calcium at 7% and magnesium at 6%. The following minerals are all present at 5% or less: iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Potassium plays a key role in helping the body maintain a healthy blood pressure; it can also improve kidney health. Calcium supports healthy bones and teeth as well as promoting a healthy pH level in the body. This mineral plays a crucial role in creating a balance between acid and alkaline levels in the body.
Finally, magnesium assists the body in several important functions. First, it supports healthy bones. When the body runs low on magnesium, it actually takes it from the bones, weakening them. Why? Because magnesium plays a vital role in energy production. It’s truly a key mineral that keeps the body optimally running.
Health Benefits – Other Compounds Found In Mandarins
Although not a significant source, mandarin oranges do offer small amounts of Omega fatty acids; they contain 35.1 mg or Omega-3 and 93.6 mg of Omega-6 per serving.
As a water-based fruit, they also offer 166 grams of water, which is an excellent alternative hydration method, particularly during hot summer days.
The 4 grams of dietary fiber equates to 14% of the RDA; fiber is a key element in keeping the intestines performing smoothly; studies show that diets rich in fiber can actually help lower LDL or the bad cholesterol’s numbers.
Tangerines are also rich in several flavonoid antioxidant compounds including naringenin, hesperetin, carotenes, and lutein. Several of these flavonoids may reduce the risks of several different forms of cancer.
Mandarin Fruit Selection
Tangerines or Mandarin oranges are best when in season; they are a winter fruit. Like other citrus fruits, they should feel heavy for their weight; light oranges will likely lack the juice content inside, suggesting that they are old.
The skin surrounding the fruit should be firm and be free from any discoloration or bruising. Avoid any fruit with brown, black, or obvious mold spots. As they are often refrigerated at stores to extend their shelf life, they should be stored in a refrigerator. They will typically last one to two weeks.
Most citrus fruits enter the market with wax, so if you plan to zest the skin for a recipe, it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash the fruit to remove the wax residue before zesting.
Mandarin Fruit Serving Suggestions
Mandarin oranges should be peeled and pitted prior to consuming; while not all segments will contain seeds, some will. This should be particularly noted for small children to eliminate the possibility of choking.
Once peeled, this tasty fruit may be enjoyed simply as it is. It can also be fully added to a smoothie, seeds and all; it wonderfully complements a smoothie rich with greens. Try adding it to a banana, spinach, and strawberry smoothie.
The small juicy segments are an excellent addition to many salads, both fruit, green, and dessert. The zest can be a great addition to a number of baked goods including muffins, pancakes, breakfast bread (especially those with cranberry), and cakes.
Marmalade is another traditional favorite. And don’t forget about dessert: candied orange wedges can be a treat for guests of all ages!
Five Fun Facts About Mandarins
1 – They are native to China; in fact, their name is directly related to the officials of the Chinese Imperial Court—the Mandarins.
2 – This tree spread throughout Asia as visitors to China would sneak out the seeds; the trees eventually naturalized in Japan, the Philippines, India, and Northern Africa!
3 – Mandarin skins offer the richest orange color in the citrus family.
4 – Mandarins were crossed with grapefruits to produce tangelos.
5 – Over the centuries several delicious varieties have developed including the Imperial, Honey, and Ellendale.