What is a clementine?
Clementines are deliciously sweet and tangy citrus fruits packed with many nutrients. Clementines originated in the 1800s after a sweet orange was crossed with a mandarin orange. This hybrid fruit has become very popular and an easy snack enjoyed by many due to its easy-to-peel and seedless nature(1).
Clementines and other citrus fruits like tangerines are types of mandarin oranges that are part of a larger family of oranges. Compared to tangerines, clementines tend to be flatter and sweeter. In general, clementines can be differentiated from other oranges by their skin and texture. The skin of oranges is the thickest, followed by tangerines and, lastly, clementines1 In addition, clementines also tend to be sweeter and smaller compared to the other types of oranges, making them the perfect snack for children and adults.2
Health benefits of clementines
The antioxidants in clementines contribute to a variety of health benefits, including the prevention of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers. The other components and vitamins in clementines contribute to other health benefits, including:
- Improving skin health
Clementines are rich in vitamin C, which is a crucial vitamin that helps with the production of collagen. Collagen contributes to maintaining healthy skin by promoting skin elasticity, resulting in firmer, plumper and fuller-looking skin. Collagen has also been proven to maintain more youthful-looking skin by reducing wrinkles.
Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation and reverse free radical damage, resulting in less skin acne, redness and discolouration.2
- Improving digestive health
Clementines contain a high amount of fibre, making them the perfect fruit to increase your overall fibre intake. In general, fibre is consumed by the good bacteria found in the gut and can help with constipation by either bulking up or softening the stool. This contributes to good digestive health and can also play a role in preventing diseases like diverticular disease, where food gets trapped in polyps in the digestive tract.2
In addition, the vitamin C in clementines also contributes to good digestive health as it increases the levels of hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is used by the body to break down and help with the absorption of nutrients, promoting healthy digestion.3
- Improving eye health
Clementines have a high level of beta-carotene, which gives them a vibrant orange colour. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that is later converted into vitamin A by the body and used to promote eye health through the formation of rhodopsin.4
In addition, citrus fruits like clementines contain flavonoids that contribute to the protection of the eyes and prevent the development of eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a condition which is usually developed with age, resulting in blurry and distorted vision.3
- Boosting immune system
Vitamin C in clementines can help boost the immune system due to its antioxidant properties that reverse the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are known to cause cell damage that leads to disease. Vitamin C also promotes white blood cell production, which is essential for the immune system and prevents infections.4
Even though, in general, clementines are small, roughly the size of a golf ball, they contain a variety of nutrients that contribute to the various health benefits. One clementine of about 75 grammes contains 35 calories with the following nutritional values:
- Protein: 1 gram
- Sugar: 7 grammes
- Carbs: 9 grammes
- Fibre: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 40% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate: 5% of the DV
- Thiamine: 5% of the DV
Incorporating clementines into the diet
In addition to their sweet flavour and various health benefits, clementines can be incorporated into our diets in a variety of ways. They are protected by the peel, making them portable, and they have an extremely easy-to-peel nature, making them an easy, convenient snack that can be eaten anywhere.1 They are also very popular with young children as they are sweet and seedless and can promote a healthy diet from a young age.2 Clementines can also be eaten with different sources of proteins, such as nuts, eggs and cheese, or they can be incorporated into different dishes. It has been recommended to add clementines to Greek yoghurt as it gives it a sweet taste that goes excellent in a winter salad or the perfect sauce for orange chicken.1 Another excellent way of incorporating clementines into the diet is to make clementine juice.
Alternatively, clementine essential oil can be applied to the body, hair and skin, giving some of the health benefits associated with eating clementine. It is normally made using the peel of clementines and is rich in vitamin C as well as folic acid. The vitamin C in clementine essential oil boosts skin health by contributing to the production of collagen whilst the folic acid improves circulation and reduces fluid retention.5
Side effects and other concerns
Clementines are a good source of natural sugars and, therefore, can be consumed to replenish blood sugar levels. However, this also means that eating too many clementines can be detrimental and cause problems due to spikes in blood sugar levels.3 Therefore, like anything else, it is essential to consume them in moderation. It is recommended by the American Heart Association that an average adult should not eat more than four clementines a day, as exaggerating can lead to weight gain and other health problems.6 For example, clementines contain a compound known as furanocoumarins, which have been proven to interfere with some types of heart medications, including cholesterol-lowering statins. It is always advisable to consult a doctor or a healthcare professional to understand more about clementines and if they will affect any medication.2
In addition, people who suffer from citrus allergies and exhibit allergic reactions to other citrus fruits like oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits are also likely to have allergic reactions to clementines. After consuming clementines, allergic reactions include having symptoms such as tingling, itching, redness and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat. However, it is important to note that allergic reactions can also occur after simply touching the fruit. This is due to a compound known as limonene found in the peel of many citrus fruits. It is always ideal to consult a doctor or a health specialist if you exhibit any allergic symptoms. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for citrus allergies, but there are several over-the-counter allergy medications that can help soothe some of the symptoms. For mild cases, these include antihistamines and cortisone creams, whilst more severe allergic reactions may require the use of EpiPens.7
Clementines are citrus fruits that contain a wide range of health benefits due to their variety of nutrients and vitamins. Some of the health benefits include improving skin health, boosting immunity and preventing diseases. In addition, clementines are the perfect snack to incorporate into the diet as they are very easy to peel and portable. Their sweet nature is extremely appealing to both adults and children. However, it is important to consume them in moderation as they have a high sugar content and can cause allergic reactions.
- Younkin L. Why Clementines Are so Good for You. In: EatingWell [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7820892/why-clementines-are-so-good-for-you/.
- Shoemaker S. Clementine: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Eat Them. In: Healthline [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/clementine-nutrition.
- Contributors WE. Health Benefits of Clementines. In: WebMD [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-clementines.
- Joanna. Are clementines good for you? 13 Reasons to Try Them. In: Healthier Steps [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://healthiersteps.com/are-clementines-good-for-you-13-reasons-to-try-them/.
- Clementine Essential Oil | Organic Clementine Essential Oil - Nature In Bottle. www.natureinbottle.com [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.natureinbottle.com/product/clementine_essential_oil.
- The dount whole. Can you eat too many clementines a day? In: www.thedonutwhole.com [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.thedonutwhole.com/can-you-eat-too-many-clementines-a-day/.
- Centers NY & AS. Citrus Allergy. In: New York Allergy and Sinus Centers [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.nyallergy.com/citrus-allergy/.