Dietary fiber refers to the parts of fruits, vegetables and grains that your body can’t absorb or digest. Insoluble fiber, or roughage, increases the size of your stools and keeps them moving through your large intestine. Soluble dietary fiber, on the other hand, dissolves in the fluids inside your gastrointestinal tract to form a gel-like substance that slows the passage of food through your intestines. Mandarin oranges and other citrus fruits are high in soluble fiber.
A small mandarin orange with a diameter of 2 1/4 inches holds 1.4 g of fiber, a medium 2 1/2 inch diameter orange has 1.6 g and a large mandarin orange measuring 2 3/4 inches across has 2.2 g of dietary fiber. Eat fresh fruit when possible to maximize your fiber intake and reduce unhealthy nutrients. A one cup serving of mandarin orange juice has 1.7 g of fiber, about the same amount as a medium mandarin orange, but also contains 22 g of sugar compared to a little over 9 g of sugar in the fresh orange.
The soluble fiber in mandarin oranges binds with bile acids in your intestines to create a gel that’s passed along as waste. The bile acids come from your liver, which uses a portion of its stored cholesterol to synthesize these products. As the liver stores of cholesterol are depleted, the liver pulls more cholesterol from your blood to replace them. The drop in blood cholesterol reduces the amount of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol that creates hard plaques on the inner walls of your arteries and lowers your risk of experiencing coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
Blood Glucose Management
Mandarin oranges and other foods high in soluble fiber slow down the absorption of nutrients from your undigested food, notes the UC Davis Nutrition Department. If you already have diabetes, this effect helps control your blood glucose level.
Although dietary fiber has no calories, it can play an important role in weight management. You burn calories as you chew the membranes of the mandarin orange and the soluble fiber in the fruit combines with water to make you feel full, notes Colorado State University Extension. Eating fiber-rich fruit with the membranes intact is more filling than a cup of lower-fiber juice from that fruit.
You can eat mandarin oranges raw, right out of the peel, or add them as garnishes to green salads, yogurt and other healthy foods. When raw oranges aren’t available, opt for canned mandarin oranges in light syrup or fruit salads that contain the oranges.