Orange Vs. Mandarin: Which Better and Healthier?

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While oranges and commercial orange juice are more widely distributed in North America and Europe, it is believed that the origin of these fruits is closer to the East more than anything.

According to experts, it’s possible that the formal cultivation of oranges began about a thousand years ago. It’s possible that through trade routes, oranges reached distant lands and subsequently took root there. Since then, there have been many oranges, which are fruiting trees that belong to the same family as the orange.

There are slight differences between orange-like trees in the same family. Still, the fruits are all nutritious, and they belong to any healthy diet. Oranges and mandarins are good citrus fruits, so you can expect the compounds found in lemons to be present in oranges, too.

Modern oranges, clementine oranges, and mandarins are grown in warmer regions globally, as they thrive better with more hospitable climes. They are enjoyed year-round because of improvements in fruit storage, and there is never a shortage of oranges for different purposes. Whether you are eating the fruit whole or you want to make some fresh juice, there are always varieties of oranges to choose from that differ only in their sweetness and natural bitterness (or tartness).

What Is the Difference Between an Orange and A Mandarin?

Citrus sinensis or mandarin oranges belong to the same family of fruiting trees like oranges. Mandarin oranges are related to grapefruit, lime, lemons, and our favorite summer fruit, the orange.

Many people realize when they eat a mandarin orange for the first time because these fruits are much easier to peel and eat. Mandarin oranges are also notable for being generally sweeter than other citrus fruits. So, if you are a picky eater and want only sweet citrus fruits, the mandarin orange is undoubtedly our top pick. Some experts believe that mandarin oranges preceded the oranges that we know today.

So, following this logic, mandarin oranges are an older primordial species, and it was only when the mandarin tree was crossed with the pomelo tree did the orange emerge.

Oranges are generally larger and juicier than mandarin oranges, and there are distinct differences in the peel and appearance. Oranges are also naturally sweet, though the presence of limonin determines the natural bitterness of the juice when you make some at home.

Mandarin oranges are easy to differentiate from regular oranges. Visually, they are always more minor, and their roundness is less than what you would expect from a traditional orange. And like we said before, the mandarin orange is the ancestor of the sweet orange, so this species is older and more established, too. Sweet oranges also have physical differences from the mandarin orange. For one, the rind of the sweet orange is much thicker (think of the pomelo in this regard), and the mesocarp is also broader and naturally bitter. On the other hand, Mandarin oranges have thinner mesocarp, so there is less fiber on the rind. Since there is less mesocarp, they are much easier to peel and eat whole.

Both sweet oranges and mandarin oranges have segmented endocarps. These endocarps house the seeds.

There may be some confusion about various citrus fruits because, in marketing terms, they are sometimes called by many names. Clementine oranges may sometimes be marketed as mandarin oranges. More miniature navel oranges may be called clementine or mandarin as well. There will be regional variations as to what these citrus fruits are popularly called, which may add to the confusion. However, suppose you are interested in making fresh juice or making summer salads. In that case, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the various appearances of these fruits so you can get what you need. For example, navel oranges are fine for juicing if you are going to consume the juice immediately. However, if you are going to store the liquid in the refrigerator for a few days, you need an orange with less limonin to get naturally bitter. Clementine oranges are best suited for this job.

Are Mandarins Healthier Than Oranges?

This all depends on what your health goals are. A quick analysis of the nutrients that these fruits provide per serving shows no notable differences except for the carbohydrate content.

Generally speaking, you are going to get more carbohydrates from eating sweet oranges than mandarin oranges. There are several possible explanations for this. The most likely reason is the size of mandarin oranges about more giant sweet oranges.

Larger fruits will have more juice and pulp, and these contribute toward the sugar intake. On the other hand, Mandarin oranges have more oil content, which would account for the slightly higher fat content.

However, we have to point out that as per WHO guidelines, the natural sugars found in fruits and other raw food items do not count toward the sugar intake for the day. WHO explains that fruits tend to provide additional fiber on top of the natural sugars, preventing dangerous spikes in blood glucose levels. What you should be watching, if you are health-conscious, is your intake of free sugars or added sugars.

One WHO report indicates that an average healthy adult should be consuming no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day. That is roughly six teaspoons or five percent of the total carbohydrate requirement for an entire day. This is because added sugars tend to have a lot of side effects on the body, and the WHO doesn’t want people getting their calories mainly from soda and other beverages and food items with plenty of calories from added sugar. The most offending sources of empty calories are table sugar and other disaccharides. Fructose and glucose that are added to food in natural or synthetic forms should also be avoided. According to the WHO, if you can keep your sugar intake to just 10% or less of your total carbohydrate intake, you will be at less risk for developing dangerous conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

Again, the warnings against free sugars or added sugars do not pertain to sugars found in items like mandarin oranges because there is no scientific proof that you can get sick from these sugars at all.

Can You Substitute Mandarin for Oranges?

Yes! Because mandarin oranges are naturally sweet, they lend well to both juicing and culinary use. Suppose you are thinking of creating a super sweet fresh juice that you can store longer. In that case, you can pick a host of oranges, including clementine oranges and mandarin oranges, as substitutes for your typical sweet oranges like navel oranges.

Just so you are not disappointed, we recommend getting the usual weight you use to juices fresh sweet oranges and buy the same quantity when you shift toward mandarin oranges. That way, you can get the same amount of juice when you start juicing.

Since natural sugars do not count toward your sugar intake for the day, get your natural energy boost from eating more mandarin oranges. You are getting simple sugars and a ton more nutrients each time you pick citrus fruits over soda and other less healthy food items or beverages.

Is Mandarin Orange High in Sugar?

The mandarin orange is believed to have originated from the East, specifically in China. The origin of the fruit would explain the name, which is very telling. Mandarin oranges are just as popular as navel oranges and clementine oranges, which puts mandarins at the top in terms of popularity. But how nutritious are mandarins?

A quick look at these moderately-sized oranges reveals that they provide the same level of nutrition as other oranges. Citrus sinensis is not identical to navel oranges, so these should always be treated differently. What we mean to say is there will be similarities, but it is unlikely that you will find identical nutritional values.  

Mandarin oranges contain one percent RDI for iron, four percent RDI for copper, three percent RDI for potassium, 2.5% RDI for magnesium, two grams of fiber, 0.3 grams of fat, 0.7 grams of protein, and twelve grams of carbohydrates or sugar. One serving of mandarin oranges will provide you with 47 calories of energy. Comparatively speaking, navel oranges offer up to 17.5 grams of carbohydrates per serving. That’s 5.5 grams more per serving compared to what you’d get from a mandarin orange.

If you are regulating your carb intake because of diabetes or any other metabolic issue, it would be best to cut your servings or portions. Oranges and other citrus fruits will always have natural sugars, so it is a balancing act for you to stay healthy.

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