Favored for its sweet flavor, stellar nutrient profile and pocket-sized portability, the tangerine fruit is one of the most beloved fruits on the market.
In addition to boasting a wide array of important vitamins and minerals, including a few servings of tangerine fruit in your diet may even boast health benefits like a reduced risk of kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels and enhanced immunity.
Ready to learn more? Here’s what you need to know about tangerines, plus some simple ways you can eat and enjoy this super healthy citrus fruit and how to discern tangerine fruit nutrition from orange nutrition.
What Is a Tangerine?
The tangerine is a type of citrus fruit that is closely related to the orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit. Although the tangerine tree was first grown and cultivated in Florida in the 1800s, the fruit is named after the city of Tangier because it was imported through Morocco.
In the United States, the term “tangerine” is often used interchangeably with “mandarin.” However, the two are actually different types of fruit, and tangerines are technically considered a specific variety of mandarin.
Tangerines are also confused with clementines. The key difference between the tangerine vs. clementine is that, while tangerines are a variety of mandarin oranges, clementines are actually a hybrid of mandarins and sweet oranges.
There are several distinct types of tangerines available, each of which varies slightly based on its specific flavor and color, along with when and where it’s grown.
Some of the common types of tangerines include:
Typically, tangerines are small and have a thin peel that is dark orange in color. However, many people wonder: Do tangerines come in different colors?
Take a look at the many tangerine fruit images out there, and you’ll notice there’s a bit of variety. In particular, green tangerine fruit is relatively common, which is caused by the production of chlorophyll in the peel.
Other hues of orange and yellow can also be spotted on supermarket shelves, depending on the specific variety of fruit.
Tangerine Fruit vs. Orange
Although the two fruits are often confused for one another, there are several differences that set the tangerine vs. orange apart.
For starters, oranges tend to grow much larger and are more firm when ripe. Tangerines, on the other hand, are small, less round and softer when they’re ready to be enjoyed.
Because of their loose skin, tangerines are generally easier to peel than oranges and can even be peeled by hand for an easy snack on the go.
The distinct tangerine color can also help distinguish this flavorful fruit from oranges. While oranges are typically more orange or yellow in color, tangerines are a bit darker and sometimes have a tinge of red in their peels.
Both fruits also have several different varieties, each of which brings its own unique taste to the table. As a general rule of thumb, though, tangerines are generally sweeter and a bit less sour and tart than most types of oranges.
However, when it comes down to it, both tangerines and oranges make great additions to a balanced diet. Both of these vitamin C foods contain a similar nutrient profile and can boost your intake of fiber and antioxidants, which are important to maintaining overall health.
The tangerine nutrition profile is a good source of several important vitamins and minerals. Each serving provides a low amount of tangerine calories, yet is high in vitamin C.
Tangerines also supply an array of other nutrients as well, including copper, vitamin B6, thiamine and folate.
One medium tangerine (approximately 88 grams) contains about:
- Calories: 46.6
- Total Carbohydrates: 11.7 g
- Fiber: 1.6 g
- Sugar: 9.3 g
- Total Fat: 0.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.03 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Protein: 0.7 g
- Sodium: 1.8 mg (0.1% DV*)
- Vitamin C: 23.5 mg (26% DV)
- Copper: 0.04 mg (4% DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.07 mg (4% DV)
- Thiamine: 0.05 mg (4% DV)
- Folate: 14.1 mcg (4% DV)
- Potassium: 146 mg (3% DV)
- Vitamin A: 29.9 mcg (3% DV)
- Calcium: 32.6 mg (3% DV)
- Magnesium: 10.6 mg (3% DV)
- Riboflavin: 0.03 mg (2% DV)
*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.
In addition to the nutrients listed above, tangerines also contain a small amount of niacin, phosphorus and vitamin E.
1. Support Immune Function
Like other citrus fruits, tangerines are high in vitamin C. In fact, just one medium tangerine can supply up to 26 percent of the amount of vitamin C that you need over the course of an entire day.
Vitamin C plays a central role in many aspects of health, but it’s most notable for its impact on immune function. According to one study conducted in Basel, Switzerland, getting enough vitamin C each day could help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of common respiratory conditions like the cold.
Not only that, but a deficiency in this key vitamin can even lead to reduced resistance against illness and infection as well. In addition, citrus fruits are rich in flavonoids that work well for immunoregulation.
2. High in Antioxidants
One of the top tangerine fruit benefits is its impressive standing as a high-antioxidant food. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help fight free radical damage in the body to reduce the risk of inflammation and chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Research shows that tangerines are a great source of several antioxidant compounds, including naringin, naringenin, nobelitin, narirutin and hesperidin. Tangerines are also loaded with vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative damage.
3. Promote Regularity
With 1.6 grams of fiber packed into each medium fruit, adding tangerines to your daily diet is a great way to support regularity and enhance digestive health.
Fiber moves through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, keeping things moving while also bulking up the stool to promote easier passage. In addition to preventing constipation, upping your intake of high-fiber foods may also reduce the risk of other digestive issues as well, including hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers and diverticulitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.
In addition, citrus has been shown to combat inflammatory bowel disease and related issues.
4. Protect Against Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys, causing symptoms like sharp pain, nausea, vomiting and blood in the urine as they are excreted out of the body. There are several different types of kidney stones, but some may actually be caused by low levels of citrate in the urine.
Including a variety of citrus fruits, including tangerines, in your diet can help increase citrate levels in the urine to minimize your risk of this painful condition. In fact, one study published in the journal Urology even found that consuming higher amounts of citrus fruits was linked to a lower risk of developing kidney stones over time.
5. Enhance Heart Health
Thanks to their content of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C, some research suggests that adding tangerines to your diet can help keep your heart healthy and strong.
For instance, one review in Chemistry Central Journal noted that the flavonoids found in citrus fruits could help reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, both of which are major risk factors for heart disease. What’s more, another study out of Japan analyzed the diets of over 10,000 men and women and reported that frequent consumption of citrus fruits was tied to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
The hesperidin found in the tangerine fruit also plays a role in modulating cardiovascular disease risk factors, as shown in several animal studies.
How to Eat (Plus Recipes)
There are tons of different options for how to add this flavorful fruit to your diet.
Because it’s so easy to peel by hand, it makes an awesome snack all on its own to help keep you going between meals. You can also separate the segments of the fruit and add them to salads, smoothies, baked goods and main courses alike.
If you’re feeling creative, you can also try using tangerines to make marmalades, jams and cocktails to add a burst of citrusy flavor and sweetness.
Alternatively, try breaking out the juicer to make some freshly squeezed tangerine juice to start your morning off on the right foot.
Tangerine essential oil is also available, which can be added to diffusers, air fresheners or face cleansers as part of a natural skincare routine. Try swapping it in for mandarin essential oil in your favorite homemade serums for scars, stretch marks and acne.
Need more ideas for how to incorporate tangerines into your diet? Here are a few delicious recipes to get you started:
- Kuri Squash Salad with Tangerine Dressing
- Gluten-Free Tangerine Cake
- Sweet & Sour Tangerine Chicken
- Roasted Asparagus and Tangerines
- Tangerine Mango Smoothie
Risks and Side Effects
In moderation, tangerines can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, there are several side effects that need to be considered as well.
For starters, tangerines are highly acidic and could cause tooth enamel to erode over time.
According to one study out of South Africa, consuming high amounts of citrus fruits could also be linked to a higher risk of developing cavities. Therefore, it’s important to keep your consumption in moderation and enjoy with a variety of other healthy fruits and vegetables.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that fruit juice is also lower in fiber than whole fruit. While a serving or two of tangerine juice can help supply a range of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your diet, it may not carry the same health benefits due to its lack of fiber.
- Tangerines are a type of citrus fruit similar in size and appearance to mandarin oranges.
- Although many people use the terms tangerine vs. mandarin interchangeably, tangerines are actually considered a specific variety of mandarin oranges.
- There are several different varieties of tangerines, which can cause variations in flavor and different colored tangerine fruit.
- In addition to being rich in antioxidants, tangerines may also reduce the risk of kidney stones and enhance immune function, heart health and regularity.
- The tangerine nutrition profile also contains a low amount of tangerine calories along with a range of micronutrients like vitamin C, copper, vitamin B6, thiamine and folate.
- Not only does the tangerine fruit make a quick and convenient healthy snack, but it’s also highly versatile and can be added to salads, smoothies, salad dressings and desserts.