Who doesn’t love a clementine? Small in stature but big in flavor, the citrus fruit is a favorite snack among kids and adults. But clementine benefits don’t end there. It’s packed with antioxidant vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber, and an assortment of essential minerals.
This impressive nutritional profile is responsible for potential health benefits like boosted heart health, increased metabolism, and optimal brain function.
A cross between the Willowleaf mandarin orange and the sweet orange, clementine goes by the scientific name Citrus x clementina. The moniker comes from the French missionary credited with its discovery, Brother Clément Rodier. He reportedly stumbled upon the hybrid in his orphanage’s garden in late 19th-century Algeria.
Their natural sweetness, easily peeled skin, and lack of seeds made them a hit worldwide. Today, China is by far the top exporter, but the mini oranges are also mass-produced in places like Spain, Turkey, and Morocco. In the U.S., California leads in clementine production.
And if you purchase them during the winter months when they’re in season, you’re getting clementines at their best.
Keep reading to discover the nutritional value and more of the sweet and juicy delights in your grocery bag.
Clementine Nutrition Facts
With foods, size matters less than the density of nutrients per calorie. So, here’s the nutrient breakdown of one clementine (74 grams):
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Total Carbohydrates||9 grams (g)||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.3 g||5%|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0%|
|Vitamin C||36 milligrams (mg)||60%|
|Thiamin (vitamin B1)||0.1 mg||4%|
|Niacin (vitamin B3)||0.5 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||3%|
|Folate||18 micrograms (mcg)||4%|
Vitamin C is the clear standout in regards to clementine nutrition. One tiny fruit supplies 60% of the recommended daily value. Still, there are good amounts of other vitamins and minerals that can go towards your daily targets.
Nutrients like thiamin, folate, and potassium can also help your body turn the foods you eat into energy, prevent nerve and muscle complications, and help regulate your blood pressure, respectively.
Plus, heart-healthy fiber is known to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
Vitamin C is, of course, popular for managing cold symptoms. But it’s also considered an antioxidant, which means it may help fight against free radical damage in your body.
As you can see, the nutrients in clementine offer an array of potential health benefits. Let’s go through a few of them in detail.
Clementines are teeming with the antioxidant vitamin C. By blocking free radicals, antioxidants can limit the cellular damage linked to chronic diseases like cancer, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease.
Other antioxidants in clementines include flavonoids such as hesperidin and naringenin. Research shows that they may play a role in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.
Citrus fruits are also one of the best sources of beta-cryptoxanthin, a provitamin A carotenoid. The plant pigment is associated with reduced risk of certain cancers and degenerative diseases.
Another benefit of vitamin C is its part in maintaining healthy skin. It’s found in high concentrations in the epidermis, your outermost layer of skin.
Your body needs vitamin C to produce collagen. Collagen strengthens the skin and improves its elasticity, which is important for wound healing as well as warding off fine lines and wrinkles.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help protect your skin cells against UV rays and other damaging influences that can lead to cancerous growths.
B vitamins keep your cells functioning properly. They help your body convert nutrients into energy, make red and white blood cells, and support DNA repair.
Clementines are a decent source of four of them: thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and folate. But you’ll find thiamin and folate in the highest amounts.
Thiamin is especially important to energy metabolism, specifically breaking down carbohydrates for energy. As such, adequate thiamin could encourage a faster metabolism and weight loss.
Folate is probably best known as a pregnancy vitamin. It can lower the risk of birth defects involving the spine, skull, and brain.
However, folate also helps produce and restore DNA and red blood cells. Red blood cells, in particular, carry oxygen to all of the tissues in your body. Without enough healthy red blood cells (anemia), your body cannot function normally.
Symptoms of folate-deficiency anemia include weakness, exhaustion, and headaches. If you’re experiencing any of these, you may want to discuss your folate intake with your doctor.
The fiber in clementines can contribute to a healthier heart and digestive system.
Soluble fiber helps improve heart health by lowering cholesterol. It does this by attaching itself to “bad” LDL cholesterol molecules in your intestines, directing them away from your bloodstream.
Too much cholesterol in the blood leads to fatty buildup in the artery walls. Having more soluble fiber in your diet may protect you from a heart attack and stroke.
This type of fiber can also feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. These microbes go on to produce beneficial fatty acids for your colon cells.
Insoluble fiber, meanwhile, adds bulk to waste in your digestive tract, helping it to pass more easily. This can prevent digestion issues like constipation.
Ways to Eat Clementine Oranges
The above list of potential benefits is likely enough to win you over. But the fruits’ healthy snackability is another bonus.
Clementines are the perfect snack. They’re naturally sweet, low-calorie, nutrient-dense, and easy to grab and go.
What’s more, if you ever have a surplus or just want to mix things up in the kitchen, they’re also versatile.
Besides eating them as is, you can make:
- Clementine sorbet: Peel, puree in a blender, and freeze for a sweet cold treat.
- Fruit salad: Peel and add wedges to a bowl of freshly chopped fruits like apples, strawberries, kiwi, and pineapple.
- Yogurt parfait: Layer Greek yogurt, clementine wedges, oats, and honey in a glass or cup.
- Clementine green salad: Toss them into a salad of your favorite leafy greens, slivered almonds, and chunks of avocado.
- Clementine marinade: Whisk the juice of several clementines together with Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil for a tasty chicken or pork marinade.
The best recipes start with the best ingredients. So, how do you choose the perfect clementine?
Look for clementines with a glossy, vibrant orange skin that is even all over. The peel shouldn’t be dry. Instead, it’s somewhat oily and leaves a waxy residue on your fingers after handling.
You’ll want clementines that are firm but with some give; soft, sunken spots indicate spoilage. They should also have that unmistakable sweet and citrusy scent.
Weight is a factor as well, as the juiciest clementines will be heavy for their size.
Once you bring them home, store uncovered in a cool, dry place at room temperature. They should last from four to seven days. If refrigerating, place in the crisper drawer for up to two weeks.
Clementine Risks & Precautions
Overall, clementines can be a great asset to a healthy, well-balanced diet. But when it comes to citrus fruits, too much can be a bad thing. The citric acid in clementines can erode your tooth enamel. This leaves you vulnerable to cracks and tooth decay.
Also, keep in mind that one clementine contains about seven grams of sugar (natural or not). So, those who are overweight, obese, or diabetic may want to limit their daily intake.
There’s also some evidence that compounds in clementines called furanocoumarins can interfere with certain medications. These include cholesterol-lowering statins. Ask your doctor if this might be a problem for you.
“Health Benefits of Clementines,” WebMD; https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-clementines#1, last accessed February 23, 2021.
Shoemaker, S., “Clementines: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Enjoy Them,” Healthline; https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/clementine-nutrition, last accessed February 23, 2021.
“Clementine, raw,” SELFNutrition Data; https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/9169/2, last accessed February 23, 2021.
“Thiamin,” National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements,” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Thiamin-HealthProfessional/#en1, last accessed February 23, 2021.
“Vitamin C,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, March 2020; https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-c/, last accessed February 23, 2021.
Reinhard, S., “How to Tell If Clementines Are Ripe,” Spoon University; https://spoonuniversity.com/how-to/how-to-tell-if-clementines-are-ripe-and-ready-to-eat, last accessed February 23, 2021.
Liu, Y., et al., “History, Global Distribution, and Nutritional Importance of Citrus Fruits,” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Nov. 2012; 11(6): 530-545; https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2012.00201.x, last accessed February 23, 2021.
Burri, B., et al., “Absorption, metabolism, and functions of β-cryptoxanthin,” Nutrition Reviews, Feb. 2016; 74(2):69-82; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26747887/, last accessed February 23, 2021.
Pullar, J., et al., “The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health,” Nutrients, 2017; 9(8):866; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/, last accessed February 23, 2021.
Jennings, K., “7 Reasons to Eat More Citrus Fruits,” Healthline, January 27, 2017; https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/citrus-fruit-benefits, last accessed February 23, 2021.