Clementines Are the Underrated Way to Get Immune-Supporting Antioxidants for Just 35 Calories

Get more immune-supporting vitamin C into your day by snacking on a clementine.
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A clementine is a small citrus fruit also known as a mandarin orange. In fact, clementines are the smallest of mandarin oranges, with an average size of approximately 2 3/8 inches in diameter, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Clementines have thin skin that ranges from slightly smooth to bumpy. As the fruit matures, the skin separates from the flesh of the clementine, making it easy to peel.

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These delicious citrus fruits are sweet, seedless and packed with nutrients. They're great to snack on and are a favorite among children.

Clementine Nutrition Facts

One clementine is equal to a single serving. One clementine contains:

  • Calories: 35
  • Total fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 0.7 mg
  • Total carbs: 8.9 g
  • Dietary fiber: 1.3 g
  • Sugar: 6.8 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 0.6 g

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Clementine Macros

  • Total fat: One clementine has no fat.
  • Carbohydrates: One clementine has 8.9 grams of carbohydrates, which includes 1.3 grams of fiber and 6.8 grams of naturally occurring sugar.
  • Protein: One clementine has 0.6 grams of protein.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients

  • Vitamin C: 40% DV
  • Thiamin (B1): 5% DV
  • Folate: 4% DV
  • Copper: 4% DV
  • Potassium: 3% DV
  • Niacin (B3): 3% DV
  • One clementine is not a significant source of iron (1% DV), phosphorous (1% DV), magnesium (2% DV), riboflavin (2% DV), pantothenic acid (2% DV) or calcium (2% DV).

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Health Benefits of Clementines

1. Clementines Pack Vitamin C

One clementine provides 40 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, which has many roles throughout the human body.

Its most vital functions are immunity support and antioxidant protection, according to a November 2017 article in Nutrients__. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, disarm harmful free radicals in the body, protecting DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage.

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Vitamin C is also integral to a healthy immune system. Eating foods rich in vitamin C has been associated with helping prevent and/or treat a range of health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and the common cold, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Here's another amazing benefit of C: It helps you absorb plant-based non-heme iron, which comes from plant foods. Humans cannot easily absorb non-heme iron, and vitamin C acts synergistically to reduce the non-heme form from ferric to ferrous, which allows us to more easily absorb the nutrient, according to the October 2019 issue of Antioxidants.

This is particularly important for vegans and vegetarians who eat a primarily plant-based diet and are more likely to experience anemia.

2. Clementines Contain Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients is a broad term describing health-promoting compounds found in plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables. It has been estimated that more than 4,000 phytonutrients exist, all with a variety of benefits for the body.

Oranges and clementines contain phytonutrients known as citrus flavanones, which have been widely studied for their possible role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease, according to the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.

Research has also found a positive correlation between overall intake of citrus and a significant reduction in cardiovascular risk factors, per a May 2017 study in Nutrients.

3. Clementines Can Support a Healthy Weight

Clementines have a combination of dietary fiber, high water content and low calories. This helps fill you up and feel satisfied for longer.

Fiber supports healthy weight loss goals and helps maintain a healthy weight by creating bulk, helping to keep you feeling full and your gastrointestinal tract running smoothly.

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Higher intakes of fiber are linked to lower body weights, according to an April 2013 study in Nutrients. Increasing fiber intake to 30 grams per day has been shown to be an effective approach to weight loss, per a February 2015 study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Clementine Health Risks

Food Allergies

Citrus is an allergen and can cause tingling and itching of the lips, tongue and throat, reddening and mild swelling of the lips and gums and sore skin, per the NY Allergy and Sinus Centers.

Other allergic reactions include gastrointestinal discomfort or difficulty breathing. Those with citrus allergies often have other food allergies as well, according to January 2013 research in PLOS One.

If you think you have a citrus allergy, speak to your doctor — you may need to avoid all citrus and carry an EpiPen with you.

Drug Interactions

Clementine juice may have adverse drug interactions similar to the well-known grapefruit juice warnings, according to a comparative study published in the January 2017 European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Be sure to discuss any food interactions with your medical professional.

Adding clementines to your lunch bowl will offer vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as a bright flavor.
Image Credit: rebeccafondren/iStock/GettyImages

Clementine Preparation and Useful Tips

Clementines are available nationwide and are often found in boxes or mesh bags containing several, typically ranging from two to five pounds.

For the juiciest, sweetest clementines, look for fruit that is firm and heavy for its size with a sweet, clean fragrance. Avoid fruit that is soft, bruised, moldy or puffy.

Like other citrus fruits, clementines can be stored at room temperature for roughly two weeks or loosely stored in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator.

Now that you have your clementines, here are some quick serving ideas:

  • Eat them on their own as a snack, as part of a fruit salad or paired with some nuts and cheese.
  • Add to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt or grains to add sweetness, flavor and texture.
  • Use their juice and/or zest in place of oranges.
  • Use with vegetables in a salad. Try clementine segments with fennel, arugula and parmesan.
  • Simmer clementine segments with winter squash or sweet potatoes and lightly mash together.
  • Freeze clementine juice in ice cube trays and add to smoothies or beverages.

Clementine Recipes

Alternatives to Clementines

Other citrus fruit, such as oranges and grapefruit, can be used in place of clementines.

Other mandarin or hybrid varieties are a great swap as well, including satsumas, tangerines and tangelos.

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