The tangerine is an orange-colored citrus fruit which is closely related to the mandarin orange. Taxonomically, it may be named as a subspecies or variety of Citrus reticulata; further work seems to be required to ascertain its correct scientific name. Tangerines are smaller than common oranges, and are usually easier to peel and to split into segments. The taste is considered less sour, as well as sweeter and stronger, than that of an orange.
A ripe tangerine is firm to slightly soft, heavy for its size, and pebbly-skinned with no deep grooves, as well as orange in color. Peak tangerine season lasts from Autumn to Spring. Tangerines are most commonly peeled and eaten out of hand. The fresh fruit is also used in salads, desserts and main dishes. The peel is dried and used in Sichuan cuisine. Fresh tangerine juice and frozen juice concentrate are commonly available in the United States. The number of seeds in each segment varies greatly.A popular alternative to tangerines are clementines, which are sometimes called seedless tangerines and are also a variant of the mandarin orange.
The tangerine tree is smaller than oranges with slender branches, and deep-green leaves with pointed ends. The fruit is flat, small compared to "Navel" or "Valencia" oranges. Its loose, deep orange color skin can be peeled rather easily. Inside, it features extensive fibrous pith, which is loosely attached to the underside of skin and edible flesh. An average-sized fruit has 8-10 juicy segments.
Several hybrid varieties of tangerines exist:
Tangelos, also known as honeybell, are hybrid between tangerine and orange or grapefruit. Tangelos, like tangerines, have loose skin and juicy sweet flavored segments. They are distinguished from oranges by a characteristic knob at the stem end of the fruit.
Tangors are cross between oranges and tangerine. They feature large size, and sweet-tart flavor similar to oranges.
Clementines, another member of citrus family, are smaller, have smooth glossy skin, and very sweet, juicy, almost seedless segments.
Yuzu fruit or Japanese citrus fruit is a hybrid between C. ichngenesis and oranges . They are characterized by intense lime-like fragrance and tart flavor. Delicious and juicy orange fruit contains an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals for normal growth and development and overall well-being.
Health benefits of tangerines
As in oranges, Tangerines are very low in calories. Nevertheless, they are valuable sources of flavonoid anti-oxidants like naringenin, naringin, hesperetin, vitamin A, carotenes, xanthins and luteins; in fact, several times higher than in the oranges.
In addition, the citrus fruits are very rich sources of vitamin-C, a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin-C is one of the powerful natural anti-oxidant, which has many essential roles like collagen synthesis, wound healing, anti-viral, anti-cancer activity, and help prevent from neuro-degenerative diseases, arthritis, and cold/fever...etc., by removing oxidant-free radicals from the body. Vitamin C helps absorb iron in the food by reducing ferrous form of the iron elements to ferric form in the gut.
Further, they contain natural soluble and insoluble fiber like hemi-cellulose, pectin...etc., which prevents cholesterol absorption in the gut. Adequate fiber in the food aids in smooth bowel movements by acting as a laxative.
Citrus fruits, as such, have long been valued for their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is scientifically established that citrus fruits, especially oranges, by virtue of their richness in vitamins and minerals, have many proven health benefits. Moreover, it is now beginning to be appreciated that the other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds found in citrus fruits such as phyto-chemical antioxidants; soluble and insoluble dietary fiber is helpful in reduction in the risk for cancers, many chronic diseases like arthritis, and from obesity and coronary heart diseases.
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