Why Tiny Tangerines Are Such A Great Snack

These 47-calorie fruits have a ton of nutritional benefits.
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"Don't leave home without a Cutie." That's become my mantra for my weight-loss clients. Stash one in your purse or briefcase. You'll be glad you did when your meeting runs late or a sugar craving strikes like a bolt of lightning. It's always a good idea to arm yourself with healthy snacks so you don't succumb to the candy jar or tuck into Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

We usually think of tangerines as a sweet grab-n-go snack, but there are many other ways to enjoy this nutritious fruit. A convenient place to find recipes is the Cuties website. Use them in muffins, sweetbreads and cakes or toss some zest and a spritz of juice on vegetables such as asparagus. Incorporate sectioned tangerines into a fruit compote or fruit salad. If you like jam on your toast, try this two-ingredient Martha Stewart recipe for tangerine marmalade.

Tangerine vs. clementine vs. mandarin

Not familiar with Cuties? They're a sweet-tasting mandarin orange. Confused about the difference between tangerines, clementines and mandarins? Here's the lowdown: Both tangerines and clementines are mandarins.

Mandarins are a class of orange that are smaller in size and flatter on both ends. Clementines are the smallest variety. I love mandarins because they're easy to peel, divide into sections and seedless. From a nutrition standpoint, the differences are negligible, so eat whichever you prefer.

Calories in a tangerine

One medium-sized tangerine has only 47 calories. They're richer in flavonoid antioxidants than oranges and loaded with vitamin C, an essential micronutrient that helps protect against some of the common signs of aging such as wrinkles, joint degeneration and osteoporosis.

Tangerine nutrition facts and health benefits

1. Tangerines are a rich source of vitamin C

A single tangerine provides almost 40 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for older adults. One a day also satisfies six pre cent of your daily fibre and four per cent of your carbohydrate needs. Tangerines are also a good source of vitamin A, B6, calcium and magnesium.

2. They could help prevent osteoporosis

One in four women over age 65 in the U.S. suffers from osteoporosis, a condition that causes brittle and fragile bones and can lead to falls and bone fractures. A study of postmenopausal Korean women published in the Journal of International Medical Research demonstrated that vitamin C intake was positively associated with bone mass.

3. They can protect against eye diseases

Eye diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome are common in older adults. The vitamin C in citrus fruits is instrumental in preventing vision loss. For many years, it was assumed that the development of cataracts was part of normal aging, but new research shows that consumption of fruits high in vitamin C, like tangerines, provides "insurance against the development of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration."

4. They can help prevent heart disease

Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of citrus fruits like tangerines help prevent heart disease by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

5. They could keep gingivitis at bay

A study of over 12,000 adults found a relationship between low levels of vitamin C intake and the development of periodontal disease. Chronic periodontitis, more commonly known as gingivitis, is one of the most prevalent chronic inflammatory conditions in older adults.

Lorie Eber is a certified nutritionist and gerontology instructor who provides one-on-one weight loss coaching. She's also certified by the Mayo Clinic as a wellness coach and a NASM personal trainer. She's the author of 40 Ways to Leave Your Lover: That Would be Junk Food and How to Stay Healthy in A World Designed to Make Us Fat and Lazy.

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