It’s easy to mistake them for oranges; however, mandarin oranges (referred to by some as tangerines) are sweeter than oranges— the ‘flesh’ has a bright orange colour, and they are easier to peel.
Apart from being delicious, they offer many health benefits.
Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Complimentary Therapy in Remera, says these fruits are naturally low in calories yet full with fibre, thus offering plenty of nutrients that are essential to keep one healthy.
This fruit, he says, has enormous benefits, from cutting down some diseases to helping in weight loss.
For instance, they contain vitamin C and can provide up to 80 per cent of one’s daily vitamin C intake.
Kamanzi explains that vitamin C is important because it helps destroy unstable molecules in the body known as free radicals.
“Free radicals are molecules with odd numbers of electrons that search for an even number by taking an electron from stable compounds your immune system makes, to fight infections,” he says.
Because of its abundance in antioxidants, it helps prevent cellular damage.
Cholesterol and immunity
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetic Association, Kigali, says that the presence of the antioxidants found in mandarin oranges can lower bad cholesterol levels.
He explains that this happens by combating the free radicals that oxidise the cholesterol, which makes the cholesterol stick to artery walls.
“This causes blood to slow down when moving in the arteries, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. The attachment to the arteries can also cause an increase in liver disease as well,” he says.
For those with low immunity, Isaac Bikorimana, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says that this fruit can work wonders.
“Because of its high content of vitamin C, mandarin oranges can help reduce the risk of illness, as they boost the immune system so that the body can fight off foreign bacteria. They can as well act like an antioxidant by neutralising free radicals that feed on cells,” he says.
Bikorimana notes that the free radicals damage cellular walls, leading to chronic conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. To keep your body healthy, consuming this kind of fruit can ensure that if one makes it part of their daily intake.
For lovers of unhealthy sugary snacks such as biscuits, cakes, packed juice among others, Kamanzi advises that they replace the unhealthy snacks by turning to mandarin, which is also sweet, but healthy.
Also, he says, because they are low in calories, consuming them can help those who are struggling to lose weight.
“They are a good source of dietary fibre, whereby regular fibre assists one to cut some weight,” he says.
Improve eye sight, fight skin disease
Musengimana notes that adding mandarin oranges to your diet can aid in keeping your eyes healthy.
“Because of its vitamin A content, mandarin improves one’s vision. For instance, they contain vitamin A, a nutrient that protects the retinas and improves night vision,” he says.
Kamanzi says that those with skin diseases should try the fruit as it has been recommended by dermatologists for possible treatment because they are known to effectively fight skin diseases.
“If one is suffering from skin diseases such as acne or pimples, among others, turning to mandarin oranges can help cure the condition because of its vitamin A content. Also, for those with wounds or other damages especially on the skin, consuming the fruit is capable of rebuilding skin tissues,” he says.
Kamanzi also says that mandarin oranges can help when with aging. He explains that the fruit helps control skin aging symptoms such as wrinkles, dull skin and fine lines because of vitamin C which is an anti-aging property.
“The presence of vitamin C in mandarin is an amazing antioxidant nutrient that helps lower the aging process. In addition, it protects the chance of certain cancers and protects the skin from radicals,” he says.
Alternatively, he says the same fruit when consumed also aids in digestion, besides, mandarin can help keep a number of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart diseases at bay.