Tangerines. Clementines. Mandarin oranges. "The things that look like oranges but smaller."
Whether you come from a household that sticks 'em at the bottom of Christmas stockings or you keep a bowl of the juicy fruits as an everyday pop of color in your kitchen, this winter citrus is at its peak right now. As for which name to use, the fact is that they're all extremely similar in their nutritional profile: They have just under 40 calories, about 1.5 grams of fiber, tons of powerful flavanoids, and about as much Vitamin C as you'd expect from a petite doppelganger of an orange. They've got approximately three times as much Vitamin A than oranges and make absorbing iron much more efficient for your body. To keep things simple, we're going with "tangerines" in the below benefits, but do keep in mind that clementines are actually seedless.
Now that we've cleared that up, let's get to the good stuff…the part about how tangerines benefit your health, your hair, your skin, and more. To double your feel-good efforts, consider pairing a tangerine snack with one of these weight loss teas!
Tangerines Are Good for Your Skin
This one's the biggie! (And really, is there anything more youthful than glowy, clear skin?) Tangerines, thanks to their antioxidants that fight skin-ruining free radicals, possess a third of your daily dose of vitamin C. While you can reap the benefits from the inside out, you can also brighten your skin with a homemade mask that removes oil and bacteria. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt, a teaspoon of honey, and the juice of 3 or 4 tangerine slices. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, rinse off, pat dry, and follow up with your usual moisturizer.
They're Good for Your Smile
Researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo showed that people who don't get their daily dose of vitamin C are 25 percent more likely to have gingivitis. In other words, puffy, red gums that bleed when you brush. Eating a tangerine is an easy option to keep your mouth in good shape, but don't go crazy; the high acid content can break down the enamel on your teeth. Speaking of smiles, find out the 25 Foods That Make You Instantly Sexier.
Your Eyes Benefit from Tangerines
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the main cause of vision loss for American who are older than 60, and cataracts are extremely common as well. Thanks to the vitamin C and A in tangerines, you can delay or even prevent losing your vision. One important note: Eat the tangerines freshly cut or not cooked, since heat and light can weaken vitamin C.
Tangerines Keep Your Bones Strong
A Tufts University study found that a group of men who consumed more vitamin C and potassium—both in tangerines!—had increased bone density and fewer fractures. We're not saying you can go play soccer like you're 17 again, but who would want to keep their bones from going brittle on them?
Tangerines Slow the Aging Process…
It's all about the antioxidants, as mentioned in #1. Along with giving your skin a youthful glow, tangerines' powerful properties, and antioxidants slow the aging process by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. Inspired? Find out the 30 Secrets from the World's Sexiest Women!
…and Delay the Signs of Aging
Although consuming tangerines will get more vitamin A into your system, look for beauty products that utilize this anti-wrinkle food, too. Wrinkles are a result of your skin losing its elasticity, thinning out, and becoming dry; but the age-you-fast free radicals can be fended off by tangerines' antioxidants.
You Can Absorb Iron More Efficiently
You've heard about how certain food combos are especially powerful, and here's another great example. When a tangerine's vitamin C syncs up with the dietary iron from something like spinach, the result is that your body can absorb the iron much more easily. Not getting enough iron often means you'll be more tired than you should be (possibly even be short of breath!), have darker circles under your eyes, and even appear paler.
Tangerines Give You Better Hair
Although being able to breathe (see #7) is hella important, your hair is where you'll also see the benefits of being able to absorb that iron. And get this—a study conducted by Dr. Marianne LaFrance, Professor of Psychology and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Yale University, showed that "bad hair days" resulted in social insecurity, lower self-esteem, and even self-worth. So if that's not a case for pursuing shiny hair, we don't know what is.
Seriously, Way Better Hair!
Say it with us: Go B12! The vitamin B12 in tangerines promotes hair growth, reduces hair loss, and slows down the graying process. Similar to topical skin products, there are also hair products with tangerine properties, if you want to double down on your efforts. (We like the Bourbon Vanilla and Tangerine Hair Texturizer from John Masters Organics.)
Tangerines Moisturize from the Inside Out
You know how your hair can get greasy, even after you just washed it? Maybe it's the water, maybe it's that you're stripping your scalp of oils from washing too much, or maybe your scalp sebum is out of whack. The vitamin A in tangerines, however, helps to balance that scalp sebum while conditioning and moisturizing the scalp, too.
They Boost Your Mood
As if having great hair days doesn't make you happy enough, the scent of citrus (especially an orange-y one) can perk you up, too. Barbara Thomley, the lead coordinator for the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic, told health journalists that the scent can curb your stress, anxiety, and even calm you down.
You Get an Immunity Boost from Tangerines
We all know the importance of vitamin C to keep our immune systems strong and battle common colds. But another food combo to take note of is pairing a tangerine with a cup of mint tea, which has antiviral properties! Find out more teas we love.
They Help with Digestion
Because nothing makes you feel old like "sudden urges," right? The vitamin A can aid improving nutrient absorption and keep your digestive tract hydrated; about one tangerine can be 3-4 ounces of water.
They Benefit Your Muscles
Although a banana has almost four times the amount of potassium, a tangerine's 115+ mg of potassium can still help with your muscle growth and recovery. Although we're in the middle of our love letter to tangerines, be sure to check out the 21 Amazing Things Bananas Do to Your Body later!
Tangerines Help Prevent Diabetes
According to researchers at The University of Western Ontario, the secret ingredient is the flavonoid called nobiletin. It's this powerful player that helps protect against type 2 diabetes and was shown to prevent the buildup of fat (particularly in the liver) by encouraging the body to burn fat and discourage the manufacture and storage of fat.
And They're Good for Your Heart, Too!
Similar to diabetes prevention, that nobiletin mentioned above protects against atherosclerosis, the root cause of many heart attacks and strokes.
Tangerines Lower the Risk of Stroke
Along with its flavanoid friend, the potassium in tangerines is also on the line of defense against strokes. In a Nurses' Healthy Study of more than 69 thousand individuals, it was found that women who ate higher quantities of citrus fruits like tangerines had a 19 percent decreased chance of a blood-clot related stroke.
They Bolster Your Red Blood Cells
Tangerines contain almost 20 mg of folate, the naturally-occurring version of folic acid. That's nowhere near your recommended daily intake, but it's still important because folate encourages DNA repair and cell and tissue growth.
Tangerines Can Help Fight Cancer and Other Serious Diseases
The compound tangeretin and limonoids are reportedly helpful for inhibiting the spread of leukemia and breast cancer. However, while some Korean studies have shown an association between lower incidences, research is preliminary and primarily from in vitro cell culture and animal testing. So, as always, consult with your doctor.
They Help Keep You Slim!
Last, but not least, tangerines can help with your weight loss efforts, thanks to their hunger-silencing fiber. Plus, the vitamins in tangerines inhibit the production of cortisol, which is the stress hormone that ultimately also influences your body to store fat.