Are Tangerines a Certified Superfood?
Image by andydr via Flickr
In recent years, consumers have heard an awful lot about so-called superfoods. And in spite of the prosaic neologism, these foods are often endorsed by doctors and nutritionists alike. What are they? A superfood is loosely defined as any food that confers numerous health benefits.
Some of the most common benefits include: digestive health, lower cholesterol, reduced cancer risk, weight loss and anti-inflammation. Now, it is not necessary for a food to provide all of these health benefits to be a certified superfood, but it must offer a few.
In this article we are going to focus on the tangerine, which is arguably the healthiest citrus fruit in the world. The history of tangerines came be traced back three millennia to ancient China. The fruit was grown as a simple hybrid, a cross between the famous mandarin and a common bitter orange. But the tangerine soon became a delicacy, prized for its loose rind and sweet and tangy juice.
Of course, the ancient Chinese had no way of knowing that they were cultivating a possible superfood. They only knew that it was tasty and easy to peel. But today we know that tangerines are one of the healthiest fruits on earth.
Just how healthy are they? The average tangerine has only about half the calories of the average, larger orange. Even so, tangerines contain more Vitamin C and more fiber than oranges. In fact, a tangerine provides 45 percent of the Vitamin C you need each day. It also contains about ten percent of recommend dietary fiber.
The health benefits of Vitamin C are widely known, but let us take a moment to review them. First and foremost, Vitamin C is a potent source of antioxidants. These plucky little molecules fight off free radicals, which are known to damage healthy cells. This damage can lead to premature aging and even to deadly diseases like cancer.
Tangerines are also an excellent source of fiber. Numerous studies have found that high fiber diets lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and encourage healthy digestion. It is also believed that fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
Many folks who believe that tangerines are, in fact, a superfood eat them only for their various health benefits. This often includes consuming the peel. Yes, the peel! Since the rind contains the highest concentrations of antioxidants and other healthy compounds, many health-conscious individuals have special recipes for citrus fruit peels. Oftentimes, they simply dry them out, grind them up in a coffee grinder and sprinkle them in rice or pasta dishes.