Mandarin is a fruit with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power now widespread all over the world and appreciated both for its pulp and for the essential oil extracted from the peel. Discover the properties of mandarin and its benefits.
The mandarin is a fruit tree that can reach heights ranging from 2 to 4 meters and that produces spherical fruits similar to oranges, with white pulp and orange skin, also called mandarins.
The history of this shrub is very ancient and has its roots in the tropical areas of Asia and, in particular, in southern China. Its name, in fact, derives from the mandarins: the highest Chinese authorities existing when this plant reached the Mediterranean basin at the beginning of the 19th century.
The mandarin belongs to the Citrus family and is the most cultivated citrus fruit in the world after the sweet orange. There are many different species, among which we can remember:
- The King mandarin (a cross between the citrus nobili and the deliciosa virus) to which the “Tardivo di Ciaculli” variety, typical of the town of the same name, in Sicily belongs;
- Cleopatra mandarin (citrus reshni), native to India and resistant to the coldest temperatures;
- The mandarin tangerine (citrus tangerine), which owes its name to the city of Tangier in Morocco from which it took off to reach Europe;
- The satsuma mandarin (citrus unshiu), originally from Japan and now widespread in the United States.
Mandarin: characteristics and nutritional values
The fruits of the various citrus species listed above are generically indicated with the term “mandarins”, without further distinctions. From a nutritional point of view, all fruits share the same properties:
- They contain a fair amount of fiber, useful for assisting intestinal regularity;
- They have a very low amount of fat;
- They are characterized by a higher quantity of sugars than other common foods: they contain about double the sugars, for example, of an apple. For this reason, their consumption must be moderate, especially in case of overweight or diabetes;
- They contain numerous minerals and vitamins, which make it an exceptional fruit, never to be missed during the winter season.
In particular, they have a high amount of vitamin C, very important to support our immune defenses in the cold season: 100 g of mandarins contain 42 mg of vitamin C, equal to 50% or 40% of the recommended daily dose in adult women and men. adults, respectively.
They are also an excellent source of potassium (5% of our daily requirement in 100g of mandarins), phosphorus, magnesium (4% of our daily requirement in 100g of mandarins) and some additional vitamins: vitamin B1, B6 , B9 and vitamin A. 100 grams of mandarins contain respectively 7%, 5%, 4.5% and 3%. Finally, as regards the energy intake, the calories of mandarins are 76 per 100 grams of edible part. The table below summarizes the nutritional values of these citrus fruits.
Nutritional values per 100g of mandarins:
- Waterfall: 81.4 g
- kcal: 76
- Proteins: 0.9 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 17.6 g
- Fibers: 1.7 g
- Iron: 0.3 mg
- Soccer: 32 mg
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Potassium: 210 mg
- Sodium: 1 mg
- Phosphorus: 19 mg
- C vitamin: 42 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.20 mg
- Vitamin A: 18 ugr
- Beta carotene: 108 mg
Mandarin: nutritional properties
There are numerous properties of mandarins, which acquire particular nutritional interest above all for their content in vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This vitamin supports the immune system and stimulates collagen production.
Moreover, thanks to its antioxidant properties it seems able to prevent the oxidation of LDL lipoproteins and the consequent formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Finally, its use is useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and recently its usefulness has also been verified in the case of oncological pathologies.
Other minerals and vitamins are also well represented in tangerines including potassium, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6. These micronutrients are essential for our well-being and sources of several properties:
- Potassium: mineral involved in various physiological processes such as muscle contraction, the maintenance of a correct hydro-saline balance and the regulation of blood pressure;
- Vitamin B1: water-soluble protein whose deficiency can cause alterations in metabolic processes, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal system
- Vitamin B6: another water-soluble vitamin whose deficiency is linked to dysfunctions of the nervous system. It is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin (or hormone of good mood) and is therefore also useful in the case of depressive disorders.
Furthermore, mandarin contains a good quantity of polyphenols and in particular of naringenin and hesperidin, powerful antioxidants with numerous properties, better specified in the following paragraph.
Mandarin: health benefits
The properties of mandarin are bestowed on it by the presence of antioxidants and various flavonoids, which make this citrus fruit also useful therapeutically. In particular, its use has been studied in association with the following pathologies. Let’s see in detail all the benefits of tangerines.
✓ Benefits for the intestine
Eating tangerines helps intestinal well-being as they regulate the normal functioning of the intestine, fighting constipation. In addition, they perform a good digestive action and, thanks to vitamin C, favor the absorption of the iron contained in food if they are consumed after meals.
✓ Neurodegenerative diseases
In the etiology of these diseases, oxidative stress and a chronic inflammatory state play a fundamental role. The abundant presence of flavonoids capable of decreasing oxidative stress, give the mandarin neuroprotective properties.
✓ Anti-inflammatory properties of mandarin
According to some recent studies, naringenin produces therapeutic effects in case of inflammatory pain and is able to induce an anti-inflammatory response.
✓ Cardiovascular pathologies
Numerous studies have highlighted the ability of mandarin flavonoids to decrease the amount of triglycerides and LDL (often called, although not properly, “bad cholesterol”) present in the blood and to increase HDL (the “good cholesterol”). Naringenin, therefore, appears to be able to prevent atherosclerosis.
✓ Useful against diabetes
Oxidative stress is considered a risk factor for the development and complications of diabetic pathology. The flavonoids contained in mandarin such as naringenin and hesperidin have anti-oxidant and anti-hyperglycemic activities and have been shown to be useful in alleviating diabetes and its complications. In case of overt diabetes, however, its consumption must be moderate as it is a rather sugary fruit.
✓ Tumor pathologies
The consumption of mandarins (and other citrus fruits) is associated with a preventive effect against the development of oncological pathologies, in particular tumors of the gastrointestinal tract.
✓ Obesity and metabolic syndrome
The polyphenols of citrus fruits have also proved useful in the modulation of lipid metabolism, favoring weight loss in a natural but effective way. This also has a positive effect in the case of metabolic syndrome.
✓ Tangerines support the immune system
Finally, the consumption of mandarins is useful for promoting our overall health and supporting the immune system. The phytonutrients present in fruits, acting as antioxidants, can stimulate our immune system to produce enzymes that can protect the liver and eliminate the damage produced on DNA, our genetic material. In addition, these fruits and their juice, as we have anticipated, contain high amounts of vitamin C, necessary to support our immune system and protect us from stress and colds.
Mandarin essential oil
Mandarin is a fruit of which both the pulp and the peel can be used, from which an essential oil rich in limonene is extracted, widely used in the cosmetic industry and useful for stimulating relaxation and in case of insomnia.
Tangerines: how many to eat
When they are in season, in the winter period, it is recommended to take 1 or 2 servings of mandarins a day, equal to about 2 or 3 fruits. This quantity is sufficient to guarantee us the benefits associated with the fruit we have seen above.
Tangerines: how to use them in the kitchen
The fastest way you have to consume tangerines is undoubtedly to eat them in wedges (as a mid-morning or afternoon snack) or prepare a squeezed tangerine juice. However, this fruit is suitable to become a fundamental component of even more elaborate dishes: for example a salad of chickpeas, celery and mandarin or sturgeon fillets with chopped almonds and mandarin juice.
The combination of foods rich in iron with the vitamin C present in mandarin also increases the bioavailability of non-heme iron (all the iron in plant foods): a useful advice especially for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Mandarin: contraindications and potential negative effects
There are no particular contraindications to the consumption of mandarin. However, the use of essential oil for food purposes must be more careful. The only precaution, as we mentioned at the beginning, is not to consume an excessive amount of these fruits in case of diabetes or overweight as they are rich in fructose. The advice to include the consumption of mandarins in a varied and balanced diet remains valid.
Mandarin, for the most superstitious, is a positive sign. Dreaming of eating a mandarin indicates a positive period and dreaming of its scent indicates the arrival of pleasant news.