Tangerines: A Healthy, Tasty Treat
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Children are often ordered to eat their fruits and vegetables. And when they ask why, they are often told, “Because they're good for you!” But why are they good for you? In this article we are good to take a look at one of the healthy fruits on the face of the earth, the tangerine.
The history of the tangerine goes all the way back to ancient China where the fruit was first cultivated. For some strange, unknown reason, some local farmer had the bright idea to cross the famous mandarin orange with a bitter orange. The result was a new hybrid fruit that tasted sweet and tangy.
Tangerines are often identified by their loose skins, which makes them much easier to peel than the average orange. They are also quite juicy, and though most varieties of tangerine are seedless, there are a few that have small seeds.
For centuries, tangerines remained in China where they were served up as a local delicacy to foreigners. It wasn't until the early 19th century that the fruit was first exported to Europe. Since the first shipments left a port in Tangier, Morocco, they were named tangerines by the Europeans.
What are the health benefits? Like other citrus fruits including grapefruits, oranges and tangelos, tangerines are high in Vitamin C. In fact, a small tangerine has more Vitamin C than the average orange and only about half the calories. And since Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, they are a favorite of heath food addicts.
For those that have never heard of them, antioxidants are helpful little molecules that do battle with harmful free radicals. A free radical is an unbalanced atom, ion or molecule that basically roams around the body and damages healthy cells. It is believed that this damage can result in serious illnesses, even cancer. Many doctors also posit that free radicals may actually speed up the gaining process by damaging healthy cells.
Though you will seldom see a label on fresh citrus fruit, tangerines have been deemed an excellent source of fiber by the FDA. Fiber has a number of well-established health benefits. The most obvious one is that it can be used to combat constipation and to promote healthy bowl movements. This, in turn, results in a healthier digestive system.
Studies have also shown that high fiber diets lower levels of cholesterol and may reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease. As a welcomed side effect of these diets, patients frequently report weight loss and increased energy.