Citrus reticulata var. clementine
The clementine is a sweet juicy fruit from the orange family. It is very similar in appearance to a mandarin and it probably appeared after an accidental cross between a sweet orange and a Mediterranean Citrus. They are usually very easy to peel, like tangerines, and after opening the fruit can be separated into 7 to 14 parts. Fruits found in stores are sometimes labelled as seedless tangerines because if not cross-pollinated they don’t grow any seeds and are easy to eat. An alternative name for the fruit in stores is Moroccan clementine. While being sweeter and less acid than normal oranges, clementine oil includes complex aromatics, a lot of limonene and also myrcene, linalool and α-pinene, like all fruits from the citrus genre.
The popular name of the fruit originates from 1902 and comes from a French monk in Algeria, Father Clément Rodier. According to one story, Father Clément was inspecting the mandarin garden of his orphanage when he noticed a special hybrid among them. However, other sources indicate that the fruit was not native to the Mediterranean shores and it was actually created somewhere in Asia.
The scientific name for the clementine tree is Citrus Reticulata var. clementine. It produces the smallest of all mandarin orange types, with a diameter of only 2 inches (5 cm) and a shape of a sphere with slightly flattened and straight sides. It is very important to separate clementine trees from other fruits in orchards, in order to stop cross-pollination. The absence of seeds makes the fruit consist only of pulp, delicious and easy to eat. If a clementine with seeds is found, this is a sign that it managed to pollinate with another tree with the help of bees or other insects and needs to be isolated better. The peel is also very easy to separate, being only loosely attached to the rest of the fruit. It has a very attractive appearance, with an intense orange color and a glossy look.
Apart from being seedless, clementines are very similar to tangerines. Both are very easily peeled and separated into parts, for a quick snack. Commercially, they can sometimes be found as seedless tangerines. The tree likes hot and dry climates, as a result the main producing countries are Spain and Morocco, on the shores of the Mediterranean. The clementine is not just a sweet and delicious fruit, but also offers numerous health benefits.
Clementines are rich in many useful substances but like all citrus fruit they have a very high content of vitamin C. This makes clementine consumption very good for the health of the skin. The vitamin C benefits for skin have been known for a long time but modern science has discovered that it boosts the production of collagen, which plays a vital role in the structure of healthy skin. At the same time, it acts as a powerful antioxidant and neutralizes the free radicals created by strong sunlight and UV rays. This protects the skin against the sun and prevents it from aging too early. At the same time, skin maintains a youthful look, it heals faster from damage and less wrinkles appear.
It is believed that the high vitamin C content is also the reason why the fruit increases immunity, although some scientists credit other phytonutrients for this. In any case, eating clementines and other citrus fruits strengthens the immunity and allows the body to resist disease better. It seems that the antioxidant qualities of these compounds protect against the harmful action of the oxygen free radicals generated during energy metabolism. A healthy immune system can prevent fatal diseases and stop a wide range of infections and problems like flu or cold.
Constant consumption of clementines, even in small quantities, provides a natural source of folate. This is very good for maintaining the normal functions of the brain and even assist during pregnancy. Studies suggest that folates influence babies in the womb, shielding them against problems of the neural tube. For adults, folates are useful for fighting depression and everyday stress. In addition, the aromatic compounds that give clementine its distinctive smell have the ability to signal the production of a neurotransmitter, a substance inside our brain that refreshes the mind and has the capacity to eliminate stress.
The fruit is also good for improving vision because it has sizeable amounts of both vitamin C and beta carotene. Several studies have proven that constant supply of these two compounds to the body is one of the factors that stop vision problems that come with old age. In addition, the folic acid in the fruit prevents anemia and is used by the body to produce RBC.
Clementines can be part of a healthy diet. Their content of fats and calories is extremely low, which makes them very valuable in losing excess weight. At the same time, they are juicy and sweet, giving a feeling of fullness in the stomach and stopping hunger. This is very useful when you try to get rid of those extra pounds.
The rich fiber content of clementines helps against constipation and makes digestion more effective by helping us have a consistent fecal function. Fiber also slows down digestion, which allows our body to absorb better the nutrients from our food. Both the food and the unwanted debris is processed better if we eat clementines due to the fruit being a source of potassium, which has an important role in the function of the muscles, allowing them to contract and relax in a normal way.
Potassium is also an essential mineral for the health of our heart and circulatory system. It has been proven that a constant supply of this mineral greatly reduces the risk of having a stroke. It prevents hypertension and regulates blood pressure, maintaining it at a normal level. Potassium also balances erratic heartbeat and can normalize cardiac arrhythmia. Besides its benefits to the heart, potassium is also known to maintain the electrolytic balance of the body. It regulates the normal balance of water in the body fluids and cells. As a rich potassium source, clementines are extremely valuable in the regulation of the overall functions of our body.
Phosphorous and calcium can also be found in clementines. These essential minerals are needed for a strong bone structure and critical to their health. They also have a role in the nervous system and prevent unwanted muscle contraction. Eating this fruit is thus very helpful for both kids and adults.
Like all fruits from the citrus family, clementines help the body resists against many variants of cancer. This is due to the generous content of certain bioactive molecules like limonoids and quercitin. Clementines are also rich in vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant that fights cancer. All citrus fruits are a source of pectin, a compound proven to be effective against several tumours.
Eating clementines offers almost the entire quantity of vitamin C needed every day by our bodies. Even if small in size, these fruits have a high nutritional content. As a result, they can be important in the diet of kids, since they are juicy, sweet and easy to eat.
Clementines provide many other vitamins and minerals critical to the health of the body. Complex B vitamins, folate, potassium, copper, calcium, iron and some others can be found even in a small portion of 100g of clementines, making this tiny fruit a significant addition to a healthy diet.
Side effects and cautions
Like all citrus fruits, there is a small risk of allergic reactions caused by clementines to some people. These could be moderate or even severe, even if the fruit is otherwise very healthy to eat. Some of the signs of an allergy to clementines are rashes or irritations inside the mouth area on the inner side of the cheeks. These can develop into mouth wounds and ulcers, lesions on the lips or tongue; it can also be atopic dermatitis. These symptoms can extend to the throat and some people can experience serious digestive cramps and other problems, as well as nausea. If you are allergic to another citrus fruit, it’s a good idea to avoid clementines. People with other allergies should be careful when eating the fruit for the first time and watch out for early signs of an allergy.