The tangerine is a fruit part of the citrus family. It has an orange color and is believed to be a variety of the mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata), or at least very closely related to it.
The current name of the fruit comes from the Moroccan city of Tangiers, where this mandarin fruit was initially cultivated. It is considered an individual species with the scientific name Citrus tangerina, under the Tanaka classification system. However, the Swingle system classifies it as a variety of the normal mandarin, Citrus reticulata. The two fruits are definitely very similar but no in depth genetic study was ever made on them. The term tangerine is generic and used quite loosely today. It commonly designates any variety of mandarin with an orange or red color, including tangors and various hybrids of mandarins.
Compared to regular oranges, tangerines have a smaller size and a less rounded shape. They are much sweeter as well, and have a stronger taste. When ripe, tangerine fruits have an attractive orange color and their outer skin is relatively smooth. Tangerines tend to be quite heavy relative to their size and have a slightly soft texture. The fruit shares most of the traits of regular mandarins. It is very easy to peel due to the thin soft skin. The white mesocarp is very bitter, which makes the skin inedible.
Tangerines become ripe in the autumn and their season lasts until next spring. They are usually consumed raw, after the fruits are peeled and split into segments. They also serve as an ingredient in desserts, salads and some cooked recipes. The peel can be consumed with chocolate coating or added as a spice in bakery products or beverages, in both raw and dried form. Tangerines are often prepared as juice, which is available fresh or concentrated. Segments contain a number of seeds, which varies from one type to another.
Tangerines supply a mix of nutrients that are known to provide significant neurological benefits. These include several antioxidants, as well as folate and potassium. Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative conditions can be prevented by an increased intake of folate. The essential mineral potassium is also known to improve concentration and the cognitive function by boosting the supply of blood to the brain.
Vitamin B6 is another compound found in tangerines that helps mental health by fighting nausea and depression. However, it is very important to respect the recommended dosage. Adults older than 18 years should never consume more than 100 milligrams per day. However, even this maximum amount has to be prescribed by a doctor.
Tangerine fruits are packed with B-vitamin complex, especially folate. Studies have revealed that folate plays a critical role in the formation of red blood cells and the development of the neural tube of babies. As a result, pregnant women need a constant supply of folic acid in order to avoid newborns with neural tube problems or underweight babies.
A tangerine provides a very high amount of potassium. However, the tangerine fruit has a very low sodium content. In a large fruit there are just 2.4 milligrams of sodium, compared to a massive 200 milligrams of potassium. This is ideal for heart health, since sodium can increase blood pressure while potassium balances it and relaxes blood vessels.
Like many other fruits, tangerines are an excellent source of vitamin C. A single fruit supplies more than half of the required daily amount. This vitamin is a strong antioxidant that is soluble in water and can counter the action of dangerous free radicals. It reduces the risk of cancer and boosts the immune response.
Since they are so rich in vitamin C, tangerines also maintain the look of skin and hair. This nutrient prevents superficial infections and boosts the production of collagen, a protein that is one of the main structural building blocks of the skin and hair. In addition, tangerines supply vitamin A, which increases the production of sebum and keeps our hair well moisturized.
The essential oil extracted from tangerines has a sedative effect and provides several health benefits. It can calm down your body and reduce excitation of the nervous, circulatory, digestive and excretory systems. It is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can fight fever, as well as mental issues like depression, stress and anxiety. It helps with insomnia due to its sedative properties.
Tangerine fruits are rich in fiber, which is needed to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. Males need a daily amount of 38 grams of fiber, while women require a lower quantity of around 25 grams for proper digestion and excretion.
Tangerine peel has a very strong taste and aroma but is very bitter as well. The peel has a much higher concentration of antioxidants and potentially useful flavonoids than the flesh. Some of these compounds are believed to boost the action of vitamin C and might reduce the risk of cancer. Tangerine essential oil is also considered very healthy.
Helicobacter pylori is a strain of bacteria that has been linked to peptic ulcers. It is usually killed using antibiotics, which have a number of nasty side effects. A natural alternative is tangerine supplements, which can eliminate these bacteria as well.
The bitter white part of the tangerine peel is a natural source for a very promising compound named nobiletin. Scientists have investigated the effects of this substance in several studies on mice. The animals that were treated with it appeared to be immune to fat-related issues like atherosclerosis and obesity. Atherosclerosis is a very dangerous condition that can cause strokes due to the fat deposits that clog arteries.
The tests have also discovered that the mice had a balanced level of sugar and glucose in the blood. This proves that tangerines might be a useful tool in the fight against diabetes and obesity. These effects are still being investigated but have been validated by the results of preliminary research.
Tangerine peel is a rich source of polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), which are known to reduce cholesterol levels. The effect of these compounds was tested on hamsters with high blood cholesterol, as a result of intentional poor diets with a large amount of fats. Some of them were given a diet that included one percent PMFs from tangerines for 35 days. The results were quite clear, since these animals had up to 40% less LDL cholesterol than the others. The diet had no effect on the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol and there were no noticeable side effects.
The peel of tangerines includes massive amounts of salvestrols. These compounds are a good weapon in the fight against cancer, since they can cause tumour cells to kill themselves. Some initial studies on cancer patients who were given tangerine supplements have been very encouraging. Clinical trials on humans will be required to validate these claims.
Tangerines are delicious and the best way to consume them is raw. Just eat them by hand, after removing the peel and splitting the pulp in segments. Some fruits have seeds, which should be discarded. Another easy way to consume tangerines is to slice them and squeeze out the juicy pulp. They are an excellent addition to fruit bowls, salads and desserts.