Tangerine Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Tangerine annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Tangerines (Citrus reticula) are a variety of mandarin oranges. They are a diverse citrus fruit ranging in flavor from very sweet to tart and ranging in shape from egg-sized to grapefruit-sized. Compared to oranges, tangerines are smaller, contain more water, and contain less acid and sugar. They also have red-orange peels.

Tangerines are relatively low in carbs when compared to other types of fruit. But because of their size, it is often easy to overeat tangerines. If you are eating tangerines on their own, keep your portion to about one to two maximum, especially if you are watching your intake of carbohydrates.

Tangerine Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one small tangerine measuring about 2 1/4" in diameter (76g).

  • Calories: 40
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 1.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 10.1g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Sugars: 8g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Carbs

Most of the carbohydrates in tangerines come from healthy sugars: fructose, glucose, and sucrose. One small tangerine contains 5% of your dietary fiber needs. The fiber in tangerines, like many citrus fruits, is soluble, making it helpful for slowing digestion. Soluble fiber also helps stabilize blood glucose and lower cholesterol levels.

Fruits in the mandarin orange family have a low glycemic index of 47. The glycemic load of a single tangerine is estimated to be 3.

Fats

Tangerines are very low in fat, containing negligible amounts of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. 

Protein

Tangerines are low in protein, containing just a small amount of essential and non-essential amino acids, aspartic acid being the one found in the highest amount. 

Vitamins and Minerals

One small tangerine provides 34% of your daily intake of vitamin C. You'll also get 10% of your daily intake of vitamin A. There are small amounts of thiamin, vitamin B6, and folate in a tangerine.

Tangerines contain small amounts of minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Potassium-rich diets reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure. Iron is important for providing oxygen to muscles. 

Health Benefits

Like other citrus fruits, tangerines contain flavonoids, phenolics, and essential oils that confer anti-oxidative properties. Tangerines contain a relatively large variety and amount of phytonutrients, which can protect cells from damage, reduce inflammation, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and provide other health benefits. 

Research has linked tangerine consumption or citrus fruit consumption to certain positive health outcomes. More evidence is needed to fully understand each of these benefits.

Cancer Prevention

Research has suggested that secondary metabolites (including flavonoids, limonoids, and coumarins) found in citrus fruit are associated with a reduced risk of cancer, including gastric cancer, breast cancer, lung tumor formation, colon tumor formation, liver cancer, and blood cancer. Authors of one study specifically found that a particular tangerine extract (Citrus reticulata cv. Suavissima) exhibited potential anti-tumor effects.

Reduced Inflammation

Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Your body does not make vitamin C so it is important to consume foods that contain this vital nutrient.

Antioxidants are believed to block cell damage caused in the body by free radicals. The damage—called oxidative stress—causes inflammation. The body makes free radicals but we are also exposed to free radicals through environmental toxins like cigarette smoke. Some researchers believe that consuming antioxidant-rich foods or supplements may help reduce or prevent certain types of inflammation.

Several clinical disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and the process of aging are associated with chronic inflammatory reactions.

Healthy Aging

Researchers believe that oxidative stress contributes to aging. For this reason, many people consume antioxidant-rich foods or take an antioxidant supplement to disrupt age-associated deterioration or delay the onset of age-related disorders. Researchers don't know for sure if or how much antioxidants can play a role in healthier aging and age-related disease prevention, but this is a strong area of interest for many scientists and studies are ongoing.

Improved Diabetes Management

Scientists suggest that the antioxidants in citrus fruits, including tangerines, may provide benefits to those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In one published report, study authors note that the level of antioxidant enzymes and antioxidant vitamins are lower in people with type 2 diabetes. Consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits, like tangerines, or fruit extracts may help to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals in patients with type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory conditions.

Better Eye Health

Tangerines are full of vitamin C and vitamin A. Both vitamins play an important role in the maintenance of eye health.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body to maintain healthy retina and cornea function. Those who are chronically low in vitamin A can develop a condition called xerophthalmia—the inability to see in low light. Eating foods rich in vitamin A can help prevent a deficiency.

Vitamin A and vitamin C may also play a role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that leads to decreased vision as you age. Research suggests that vitamin C combined with other nutrients might help slow AMD progression. Vitamin C may also play a role in the prevention of cataracts.

Right now, research into the relationship between these eye conditions and vitamin A or vitamin C is in its early stages. More research needs to be done to know for sure if consuming vitamin-rich foods or taking vitamin supplements can have a measurable effect.

Allergies

People with citrus allergies may experience tingling, itching, redness, swelling, or even burning when touching either the skin or inside of the tangerine. Some may also experience digestive and/or respiratory problems.

If you suspect a citrus allergy, contact your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.

Adverse Effects

Tangerines do not contain furanocoumarins like some other citrus fruits and are not believed to produce the same drug/grapefruit interactions that are of concern to those who take statins. 

There is some limited evidence that tangerine consumption may affect certain medications that are changed by the liver (including Prevacid, Zofran, Deltasone, Zoloft, and others) and midazolam (Versed). If you are taking one of these medications, speak to your healthcare provider before consuming tangerines.

Varieties

Many people wonder if tangerines and clementines are the same thing. Tangerines are closely related to clementines, as both are members of the Citrus reticulata family. Most tangerines are seedless but some hybrids do contain seeds. Each of the fruits is are easy to peel, but tangerines tend to have tougher skin and are more tart. Tangerines have seeds, while clementines do not.

Variations of the tangerine include the tangelo—a cross between a pomelo and a tangerine, and the temple (or royal Manadarin)—a cross between an orange and a tangerine.

When It’s Best

Tangerines are in season from around November to April. The fruit is grown in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California.

To pick the best juicy tangerines, choose those that feel heavy for their size. The fruit should be firm, plump, and should smell fragrant and ripe. Look for a shiny, bright, uniform color. Many tangerine fans say that smaller fruit is better.

Storage and Food Safety

Store tangerines at room temperature if you plan to eat them within a week. You can place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh for up to two weeks.

You can freeze tangerines, but you should remove the peel first. Take the tangerine sections and place them in a freezer-safe bag with little to no air. They should stay fresh in the freezer for up to one year.

How to Prepare

Tangerines can add a lightly sweet and citrusy flavor to salads, sides, and main courses. Simply remove the peel and chop up your tangerines and place them in your dishes or use tangerine juice to make salad dressing.

Tangerines can also be eaten alone or in combination with low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese for a filling, fiber- and protein-rich snack.

The fruit makes for beautifully presented meals, complementing food and giving it a refreshing flavor. Tangerines are a great addition to vegetable dishes, poultry, and seafood.

Recipes

Use tangerines instead of or in addition to other citrus fruits in recipes.

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