Clementine Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Clementine
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Clementines may be small in size, but there’s nothing miniature about their nutritional offerings or health benefits. A part of the mandarin family, clementines are often thought of as “tiny oranges" (and sold with names like "Cuties" and "Sweeties"). They are naturally seedless and easy to peel, making them a handy, healthy treat for kids and adults alike.

Clementine Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one clementine (74g).

  • Calories: 35
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 0.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 8.9g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Sugars: 6.8g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Carbs

The nutritional profile of clementines is similar to that of other members of the mandarin and orange families. One clementine contains about 9 grams of carbohydrates. The same serving also provides about 6.8 grams of sugar, but since clementines are naturally sweet, there are no added sugars.

Fat

Like most fruit (with the exception of some unique fruits like coconuts and avocados), clementines are very low in fat and cholesterol-free.

Protein

Clementines, like most other citrus fruits, are low in protein. One clementine provides less than 1 gram of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Clementines are packed with nutrients. Like most citrus fruits, they’re high in vitamin C. A single clementine provides 60% of the daily recommended intake of this important vitamin. Two clementines almost meet 100% of the daily recommended intake of 75 milligrams for women. (Men need 90 milligrams per day.)

Clementines are also rich in potassium, providing 131 milligrams per serving of one fruit (to compare, a small banana has about 360 milligrams). Potassium helps flush sodium from your body and aids in muscle recovery.

Clementines are also a source of folate acid. There are 36 micrograms in one clementine, or about 10% of the daily recommended value, for both women and men.

Beta-cryptoxanthin is a carotenoid often found in fruits and vegetables that are red, orange (like clementines), or yellow in color. This carotenoid found in clementines is a pro-vitamin A carotenoid, which means it can change into vitamin A once consumed and inside of our bodies. Beta-cryptoxanthin also acts as an antioxidant.

Health Benefits

In addition to the nutrients clementines offer, there are a host of health effects they have as well.

May Improve Heart Health

Although not conclusive, a number of studies have shown an association between higher citrus intake and lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Why? There may be a link between vitamin C deficiency and a greater risk of heart disease. Vitamin C may also have a positive impact on lipid profile levels and blood pressure, as well as endothelial function.

Supports Immune System

Vitamin C plays a role in supporting our immune system. Research shows vitamin C may help to prevent illnesses, including the common cold, as well as decrease the duration of sickness and alleviate symptoms. Some research also suggests vitamin C also has an effect on pneumonia.

May Lower Risk of Cancer

There are a number of published studies linking citrus fruit intake with a reduced risk of cancer. It’s believed the bioactive compounds and phytonutrients (in addition to their fiber and vitamin C content), play a role.

One study found that eating citrus fruit reduced the risk of breast cancer by 10%. Other research has shown citrus fruit consumption protects against pancreatic, esophageal, and stomach cancer.

The mechanism isn’t fully understood—one hypothesis is that the vitamin C in citrus fruits can deactivate carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Promote Bone Health

As we age, bones become more brittle because there is less formation of new bone as well as continuing resorption of existing bones. Diet can play a role in helping to reduce bone loss. Studies have shown that beta-cryptoxanthin stimulates bone growth while also reducing bone resorption, thereby increasing bone mass.

Protects Skin and Aids Healing

Maintaining healthy skin goes beyond anti-aging and aesthetics. Our skin acts as a barrier, protecting our vital organs and systems from the environment. And our skin naturally contains high concentrations of vitamin C. The vitamin acts as an antioxidant, protecting our skin from UV damage as well as stimulating collagen growth.

Research also shows vitamin C is important for maintaining a healthy collagen/elastin balance, which becomes more difficult to maintain as we age. 

Vitamin C is also frequently used to help heal wounds in clinical settings. The vitamin plays a role in every stage of wound healing from reducing inflammation to collagen formation, and even reducing scar tissue.

May Boost Brain Health and Function

Hesperidin is a plant compound found in clementines that may play a role in cognitive health, along with vitamin C. Hesperidin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which our body uses to protect the brain from harmful agents. Through this mechanism, hesperidin may help keep the brain tissue healthy.

Similar to how vitamin C is naturally found in high concentrations in our skin, it’s also found concentrated in our brains and spinal fluid. The exact role vitamin C plays with cognition is still unknown, but the nutrient may help protect our brains as they age, specifically in older adults with insufficient vitamin C intake.

Increases Iron Absorption

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies among Americans, especially women ages 19 to 50 and adolescent girls. In our diet, there are two types of iron: heme (from animal sources) and non-heme (from plant sources). Non-heme iron is not absorbed as well as heme iron, but vitamin C is one nutrient that can help the process.

Eating foods rich in vitamin C while eating non-heme iron foods, such as a spinach salad with bell peppers, increases the non-heme iron absorption 3- to 6-fold.

Allergies

Although it is not one of the more common food allergies, citrus allergy does exist. There are different components specifically within citrus fruits that may cause allergic reactions. Another cause is pollinosis, which occurs because of cross-reactivity. If you’re allergic to citrus, you should discuss your restrictions with your doctor.

Adverse Effects

Grapefruit, a member of the citrus family, is one of the most common foods to have interactions with drugs. More than 85 drugs interact with the fruit, and the impact can have serious implications. Some fruit juices, including clementine juice, may also interact with medications. Discuss these interactions with your doctor.

Varieties

Mandarins are a type of orange, but they are in a category of their own—along with clementines and tangerines. These fruits tend to have thin, easy-to-peel skin and are smaller in size compared to oranges. Clementines are also seedless.

Nutritionally, oranges and clementines are very similar. Ounce-for-ounce, oranges, and clementines have about the same number of calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They only vary slightly when it comes to some nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and potassium, although the differences are not remarkable.

When They're Best

Like most citrus fruits, clementines are in season during the winter months, November to February—though you can often find them in supermarkets year-round. You might see them sold in stores with brand names like Cuties, Darlings, and Halos.

Storage and Food Safety

While you can store clementines at room temperature for about a week, citrus growers say they will last longer—two to three weeks—if kept in the fridge. Although citrus fruits are not generally associated with food-borne illnesses, contamination is possible. Wash fruit before eating (even though you don't eat the peel).

How to Prepare

One of the simplest ways to enjoy clementines is as a fresh snack on their own. Since they don’t need to be refrigerated, they’re the perfect on-the-go snack, and their easy-to-peel outer skin makes them great for kids. You can also try the following preparations:

  • Toss clementine sections on top of a spinach salad. You’ll not only add sweetness, but you’ll increase the iron absorption from the spinach.
  • Melt dark chocolate chips, then dip clementine segments into the liquid chocolate. Refrigerate and enjoy.
  • Pair clementines with cashews or almonds for your afternoon snack. The fat-fiber-carb-protein combo will keep you satisfied. 

While clementines are great as a snack, they’re also a stellar ingredient in recipes, adding tart sweetness to any dish. Citrus pairs well with fish and other meats, with its balance of acidity and sweet flavor. You can even use leftover clementine peels to make candied peels (and then dip in chocolate) or infuse water or alcoholic beverages so they take on the citrus flavor.

Recipes

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