The Mandarin orange, also known as the mandarin or mandarine, is a small citrus tree with fruit resembling other oranges. Mandarin oranges are usually eaten plain or in fruit salads. Specifically reddish-orange mandarin cultivars can be marketed as tangerines, but this is not a botanical classification. When exporting began, local Mandarin oranges were named after their port of origin.
The tree is more drought-tolerant than the fruit. The mandarin is tender, and is damaged easily by cold. It can be grown in tropical and subtropical areas.According to molecular studies, the mandarin, the citron, the pomelo, and the papeda were the ancestors of all other citrus species and their varieties, through breeding or natural hybridization; mandarins are therefore all the more important as the only sweet fruit among the parental species.
The mandarin orange is a variety of the orange family. Cultivars and crosses between the original mandarin and other citrus fruits include:Satsuma, a seedless variety, of which there are over 200 cultivars, such as Owari and mikan; the source of most canned mandarins, and popular as a fresh fruit due to its ease of consumption.
Owari, a well-known Satsuma cultivar that ripens during the late fall seasonClementine, sometimes known as a "Christmas orange", as its peak season is winter; becoming the most important commercial Mandarin orange form, having displaced mikans in many marketsTangerine sometimes known as "Dancy Mandarin".
Tangor, also called the temple orange, a cross between the Mandarin orange and the common sweet orange; its thick rind is easy to peel and its bright orange pulp is sour-sweet and full-flavored.
The mandarin is easily peeled with the fingers, starting at the thick rind covering the depression at the top of the fruit, and can be easily split into even segments without squirting juice. This makes it convenient to eat, as utensils are not required to peel or cut the fruit.
Canned mandarin segments are peeled to remove the white pith prior to canning; otherwise, they turn bitter. Segments are peeled using a chemical process. First, the segments are scalded in hot water to loosen the skin; then they are bathed in a lye solution, which digests the albedo and membranes. Finally, the segments undergo several rinses in plain water.
Antioxidants: You can count on mandarin oranges to provide vitamin C, with 1 cup of orange segments delivering 28 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, including those resulting from exposure to sunlight. Mandarin oranges also contain the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene functions as an antioxidant, but it can also be converted into retinol, which is the form of vitamin A used by cells in the eyes for vision and to support the immune system. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that protect the retina from damage and may prevent age-related macular degeneration.
Bone Health: Calcium and phosphorus combine to form hydroxyapatite, which is used to build bone and teeth. Old and damaged bone is continuously replaced with new, strong bone throughout your life. It's important to include both minerals as a part of your regular daily diet to ensure you have enough to prevent osteoporosis. Magnesium is another mineral that has a role maintaining bone health by regulating the formation of hydroxyapatite and activating enzymes that form new bone. Low levels of any of these minerals increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Deficiencies of phosphorus and magnesium are rare, but dietary intakes of calcium are below the recommended amount for many people of all ages, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. One cup of mandarin orange segments provides 3 percent of the recommended daily intake of all three minerals.
Dietary Fiber: Dietary fiber is primarily associated with preventing constipation, but there are two types of fiber with different purposes. Insoluble fiber is the type known for keeping food moving through the digestive tract. It also lowers your risk of developing diverticular disease and treats symptoms related to some gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome. The other type of dietary fiber, soluble fiber, lowers levels of cholesterol and keeps blood sugar balanced after you eat by slowing food absorption. The total dietary fiber in 1 cup of mandarin orange segments is 1.8 grams, which is 5 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 7 percent for women.
Flavanoids: This group of plant-based chemicals, or phytochemicals, are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colors. They also deliver health benefits. Flavonoids function as antioxidants and inhibit inflammation, which lowers the chance of developing chronic diseases. The two flavonoids found in mandarin oranges, hesperetin and naringenin, may lower cholesterol and prevent some types of cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
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