Clementines are a variety of mandarin orange in full season in December and one of the healthiest winter foods you can eat. In terms of nutrition, the fruit is a good source of vitamin C which boosts collagen production in the skin for better skin elasticity and fewer wrinkles. Vitamin C and hesperidin in clementines are anti-inflammatory and protect cardiovascular health. Eating clementines is good for high blood pressure and pregnant women and, as a low GI food, even diabetics can eat them.
What are clementines?
Clementines, also known as clementine oranges or clementine mandarins, are not actual oranges or mandarins, but a cross between the sweet orange and the mandarin, or mandarine. The scientific name for clementines is Citrus clementina. Clementines are a type of tangor which represents a class of mandarin and sweet orange hybrids. There are two major types of clementine varieties: seedless and with seeds. Varieties such as the Corsica clementine (Clémentine de Corse), the Calabria clementine (Clementine di Calabria) and Gulf of Taranto clementine (Clementine del Golfo di Tarante) are protected under European Union law and labeled as PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) agricultural products.
What do clementines look like?
Clementines are small to medium-sized, orange-like citrus fruit with a deep orange rind and flesh and slightly oblate shape. The rind is smooth, with tiny almost imperceptible indentations, and visibly glossy, but easy to peel which contributes to the appeal of the citrus variety. Clementine flesh is extremely juicy and easily separate into segments. There are typically 7 to 14 segments per fruit, and the fruit may be seeded or seedless. The seeds are pointy, white to cream-colored and hard. There is also an edible spongy white layer on the inside of the rind is called an albedo or pith. Clementines that have not undergone any artificial/chemical degreening process can have a green rind when ripe.
What do clementines taste like?
Clementines are extremely aromatic citrus fruit with a particularly juicy flesh and easy to peel rind. The rind and flesh both have a strong citrussy smell which tends to invade the room. Compared to the common sweet orange, the clementine is sweeter and less acidic. The low content of organic acids in the variety contributes to the pregnant sweet taste of the ripe fruit. Unripe clementines have a sharp and sour taste.
Clementines are in season November through January, but are expected to taste their best and be at their most affordable all of December, making the list for the healthiest foods in season in December. In some regions clementine season may extent to early spring, but late-season fruits are not as high-quality. Stored at room temperature, ripe clementines will last for up to 5 to 10 days.
Clementine vs mandarine
The clementine and mandarin are two different, but closely related types of orange-like citrus fruit. Neither clementines nor mandarins are actual oranges. Also, clementines are not mandarins and mandarins are not oranges. What are they then? Clementines are a cross between mandarins and common sweet oranges. Just as interesting, common sweet oranges are a cross between mandarins and pomelos. So the mandarin is an original citrus fruit which hybridized with another original citrus fruit, the pomelo, producing the common sweet orange. The mandarin also hybridized with the common sweet orange, producing the clementine. Discover the different types of orange fruit.
Clementine nutrition is modest at most. When it comes to vitamin content, clementines contain a good amount of vitamin C (between 30% and 60% of recommended values of vitamin C per 100 g). However, clementines have no vitamin D, no vitamin K and no vitamin B12, almost no sodium and no selenium. Despite the beautiful orange color of the flesh which normally indicates the presence of vitamin A, clementine vitamin A content is very low (less than 4% of daily values of vitamin A per 100 g).
A serving of 100 g of clementine provides very little iron, manganese, zinc and vitamin E (around 1%) and similarly small amounts of calcium, choline, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins B2 and B5 (around 3%). The citrus fruit is however slightly higher in vitamins B1, B3, B6 and B9 (3% to 7%). There are about 50 calories (kilocalories) in clementine, close to 2 g of dietary fiber and only trace amounts of fat and protein.
Clementine nutrition facts per 100 g
- Energetic value: 47-53 kcal
- Carbohydrates content: 12-13 g
- Sugars: 9.2-10.6 g (contains sucrose, glucose and fructose)
- Fiber content: 1.8 g
- Protein content: 0.8 g
- Fat content: 0.3 g
- Water content: 85 g
Clementine vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A: 34 mcg (micrograms) from beta-carotene (155 mcg), alpha-carotene (101 mcg), beta-cryptoxanthin (407 mcg)
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: 138 mcg
- Vitamin B1: 0.058 – 0.086 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.03 – 0.035 mg
- Vitamin B3: 0.376 – 0.636 mg
- Vitamin B5: 0.151 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.075 – 0.078 mg
- Vitamin B9: 16 – 24 mg
- Vitamin B12: 0 mcg
- Choline: 10.2 – 14 mg
- Vitamin C: 26.7 mg – 48.8 mg
- Vitamin D: 0 mcg
- Vitamin E: 0.2 mg
- Vitamin K: 0 mcg
- Calcium: 37 mg
- Copper: 0.042 mg
- Iron: 0.15 mg
- Magnesium: 12 mg
- Manganese: 0.023 mg
- Phosphorus: 20 mg
- Potassium: 166 mg
- Selenium: 0.1 mg
- Sodium: 2 mcg
- Zinc: 0.07 mg
Clementine orange benefits
Good food for losing weight
With only about 50 kilocalories per 100 g, the clementine orange is relatively low in calories which makes it a good food to eat if you are looking to lose weight. The citrus variety is also very low in fat and a moderate source of carbs and sugar.
A serving of 100 g of fresh clementine oranges provides a good amount of vitamin C (between 30% and 60% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C for the average adult). Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties and is proven to lower inflammation markers in the body such as C-reactive protein. Clementines, as well as other citrus fruits, are also sources of a flavonone called hesperidin which studies show exerts anti-inflammatory effects (source). Hesperidin is found in the spongy white part of citrus fruit, also known as albedo or pith.
Clementines are a source of vitamin C and the flavonoid antioxidant hesperidin and its aglycone, hesperetin. Studies show both vitamin C and hesperidin exert anticancer effects via immunomodulatory, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory and apoptosis-inducing properties. Research shows vitamin C targets many of the mechanisms that cancer cells utilize for their survival and growth (source). The reported anticancer effects of hesperidin have been found to be associated with its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, inhibiting tumor cell metastasis, angiogenesis, and chemoresistance (source).
Clementines benefits in pregnancy
Eating clementines in pregnancy has its benefits, albeit minor. What makes clementines good to eat during pregnancy is a vitamin C which stimulates collagen production in the skin and exerts a reparative action, improving skin elasticity and potentially helping with stretch marks. Vitamin B9 in clementines helps reduce risks of neural tube defects (defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord) of babies during pregnancy. Vitamins B1, B6 and B9 together with and vitamin C support the expanding circulatory system of pregnant women and exert anti-anemia effects.
Minor benefits for high blood pressure
Regular consumption of clementines can help lower blood pressure numbers slightly thanks to a modest content of potassium and magnesium. According to their nutrition values, clementines are only a modest source of dietary potassium and magnesium, but almost sodium-free. Clementine juice benefits blood pressure even more: compared to the whole fruit, clementine juice contains more potassium and magnesium resulting in a stronger blood pressure-lowering effect.
Good food to eat for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
Clementine is a good food to eat for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, not because it treats or cures the underlying causes, but because it helps combat the side effects associated with the three symptoms, namely loss of appetite and dehydration. The organic acids in clementine oranges reduce nausea and even vomiting instances, making eating possible, while vitamin C actively stimulates appetite. The natural sugars, minerals and water in the citrus fruit hydrate and restore adequate blood sugar levels, exerting a tonic, restorative effect that sustains the body.
Natural laxative properties
If you eat whole clementine oranges (flesh, peel around the fruit segments, and some pith), you get decent amounts of dietary fiber to help regulate transit and relieve constipation naturally.
Studies show hesperidin in clementine oranges and citrus fruit in general has cholesterol-lowering properties (source). Hesperidin is found in the spongy white pith or albedo of citrus fruit. Vitamin C in clementines is a source of additional cardiovascular benefits, helping keep arteries clean of plaque and contributing to anti-atherosclerotic benefits.
Benefits for skin
The good amount of vitamin C in clementine oranges stimulates collagen production in the skin for better skin elasticity and fewer wrinkles. In addition to anti-aging properties, vitamin C also accelerates wound healing.
Benefits for anemia
Clementine iron content is too low too make any measurable difference in terms of benefits for anemia, considering what counts as a normal food intake of the fruit. However, clementines provide a generous vitamin C amount which boosts absorption of iron from other sources. If you have anemia, you can pair clementines with a good source of iron. For example, you can add fresh clementine segments to a spinach and hard-boiled eggs salad or enjoy the citrus fruit as a dessert after a main meat-based dish.
Good food to eat for hypoglycemia
Natural sugars in clementines raise blood sugar levels that are too low and combat lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, muscle weakness and generalized weakness associated with hypoglycemia.
Benefits for the immune system
Clementine oranges are a varied source of biologically active components with immunomodulatory effects, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, notably vitamin C, hesperidin and hesperetin, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Benefits for diabetics
Clementines are a good food to eat for diabetics in the sense that they are a low GI food with a glycemic index score of around 40. What this means is the reasonable intakes do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels in diabetics. Clementines will, however, raise blood sugar which is why it’s important to keep intakes limited. Other similarly low GI citrus fruit are Cara Cara oranges.
Clementine orange side effects
When consumed in normal food amounts, clementines are safe to eat, but side effects are nonetheless possible.
- Allergic reactions. Like all foods, they do have the potential to cause allergic reactions, although they are not a common allergen.
- Medicine interactions. Eating too many clementines or drinking too much clementine juice can potentially interfere with certain medication such as diabetes medication, some antibiotics, medication used to treat high blood pressure, kidney disease, fungal infections, sedatives used to treat seizures, epilepsy and more. The compounds in the fruit known to produce medicine interactions are hesperidin, narirutin, nobiletin, sinensetin, and tangeretin.
- Bad for gastritis and GERD. Excessive intakes of clementine fruit or juice can upset the stomach and flare up existing gastritis and acid reflux disease.
This post was updated on Wednesday / December 23rd, 2020 at 8:00 PM