Why Clementines Are so Good for You
Clementines look just like little oranges, but they're actually a specific type of mandarin orange. Clementines were born by crossing a sweet orange with a mandarin orange in the late 1800s. Because they are sweet, seedless, and easy to peel, they're popular all across the world. The clementines in the United States are mostly grown in southern California, Arizona, and Florida. Learn more about this sweet orange fruit and find out why clementines are a healthy addition to your diet.
With just 35 calories in one clementine, you can technically count two as one serving of fruit. Two clementines have the same amount of sugar as one banana, one cup of grapes, and one small apple. But they are lower in total carbs with just 18 grams of carbohydrates in two fruits, compared with 25 grams in one medium apple and 27 grams in one medium banana (here's why you should still eat fruit even though it has sugar).
One serving or 2 clementines (source: USDA data)
Vitamin C: 72mg (120% DV)
Health benefits of clementines
Clementines are rich in vitamin C—just one tiny fruit delivers 60% of the recommended daily value (try these 6 foods with more vitamin C than an orange). Aside from helping support your immmune system, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent some cancers. Vitamin C also helps synthesize collagen, improving skin health. And vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plants like spinach. So if you're vegetarian or vegan throw a clementine on your salad for optimal iron absorption. Like many fruits, clementines have virtually no protein or fat. For a more satisfying snack pair them with protein-rich nuts, seeds, cheese or yogurt.
Clementines vs. other citrus fruits
What's the difference between tangerines, clementines, and mandarin oranges? Think of oranges as the broadest category, mandarin oranges as a type of orange, and tangerines and clementines as types of mandarin oranges (along with satsumas). Tangerines have thicker skin than clementines, but not as thick as an orange. Clementines are often referred to as "cuties," "sweeties," or "halos," but those are brand names, not varieties. Clementines are flatter on the top and bottom than a tangerine and they are sweeter and easier to peel.
Oranges are much bigger than mandarins, less sweet, and have a thicker peel. Other citrus fruits include grapefruit, lemons, and limes, which are more tart and less sweet than clementines and oranges.
How to enjoy clementines
Clementines are easy to peel and can be eaten alone or paired with meals or snacks. Satisfy your sweet tooth with two clementines for fewer calories than an apple. Clementines make great snacks because they're portable and protected by the peel. Pair with protein like nuts, a hard-boiled egg, or string cheese for a more filling snack since two clementines only have one gram of protein.
Add clementines to Greek yogurt for natural sweetness, brighten up a winter salad, or make a sauce for orange chicken. These cute little fruits are perfect for kids because they're sweet, seedless, and most kids can peel them on their own (parents everywhere love that).
Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy clementines.