Origins of tangerines
The growing of tangerines appeared in the nineteenth century in Tangier or Tanger, a Mediterranean city in the north of Morocco; Hence their name of tangerines. Clementines, a variety of tangerines, are sweeter and they are very popular among children.
Nutritional properties of tangerines
Approximate 86 per cent of their content is water and 11% sugars. Because of their high water content, they are lower in calories than many other fruits: 43 calories in one large fruit. Tangerines are high in vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, B vitamins, and betacarotene. In addition, they supply carbohydrates, soluble fiber, and minerals good for the heart such as potassium.
The many hats of vitamin C
Tangerines, as most citric fruits, are rich in vitamin C. Making tangerines part of a healthy Mediterranean diet can help you boost your immune system and as a result, prevent colds. Although this effect of vitamin C is not backed up by the scientific community, there are many studies that connect vitamin C with a faster recovery and decrease of cold and flue symptoms.
Another function of vitamin C is to increase the production of interferon. Interferon has two basic roles: to prevent viral reproduction in the cells and to enhance the destruction of the cells already infected.
Vitamin C also seems to enhance the role of phagocytes. Phagocytes protect our body from microbe invasion. It also participates in the formation of collagen, a protein that contains the integrity of our cell membranes, the first barrier against infections.
Ingesting vitamin C along with food high in iron enhancements iron's absorption. Take two tangerines for dessert after eating a meal high in iron, such as lentils. Vitamin C helps the formation of red blood cells, which in turn precedes anemia.
Additional benefits of tangerines
Tangerines are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber
Soluble fiber means that it dissolves in water and forms a jelly-like paste with other foods in the intestine. This feature is very important because it reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. Soluble fiber not only lowers LDL cholesterol, the "bad" guy but also shows HDL cholesterol, the "good" guy.
Insoluble fiber is recommended to prevent or eliminate constipation. This type of fiber has no effect on cholesterol but it promotes general health. It can also prevent many types of cancer, including cancer of the colon.
Tangerines are high in potassium
Tangerines are rich in potassium, a mineral that plays a key role in heart functions and muscle contractions. It works with sodium to regulate the water balance in the body. Diets low in sodium and high in potassium lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of a stroke. Given the richness of potassium, tangerines have a mild diuretic effect which is also recommended to prevent hypertension and to lose weight.
Tangerines are low in sodium. Studies have shown that our diets should be five times higher in potassium than in sodium to maintain normal blood pressure. Unfortunately, in the typical western diets, the amount of sodium is five times higher than potassium.
Tangerines and flavonoids
Tangerines are very rich in flavonoids, nonnutritive chemicals found in plant foods that protect their host plants from infections and microbial invasions. Recently, however, we have learned that flavonoids are also crucial in protecting humans against disease. We know that people who consume plant foods regularly have a lower incidence of heart disease than those who do not include them in their diet.
Tangerines contain a very important flavonoid called hesperidin. Studies have shown that hesperidin lowers cholesterol and hypertension or high blood pressure. This flavonoid also contains strong anti-inflammatory properties. A high concentration of hesperidin is found in the inner part of the peel and in the white pulp of the orange.
Flavonoids, in combination with many other phytochemical derivatives found in fruits and vegetables fight free radicals. Free radicals have been linked to premature aging, cancer, and heart disease.
Tangerines are high in betacarotene. Betacarotene converts itself into vitamin A in our body when this needs it. This vitamin is essential for good vision, a healthy skin and hair, strong bones, and the immune system.
Final thoughts on cold virus
As you can see, tangerines are a wonder of nature. During the months they are at their best, September to March, make an effort to include two pieces a day (an orange can replace two tangerines). Tangerines are very appreciative and, as part of a healthy Mediterranean Diet, they will protect your health big time.