By Anne Palumbo
Often called “Christmas oranges” because they’re in season during the winter months and are a traditional stocking stuffer, low-cal clementines provide a welcome respite to the heaviness of holiday eating.
Like most citrus fruit, clementines teem with vitamin C, with one small fruit delivering around 50% of our daily needs. Well known for its immune-system support, vitamin C also improves skin health and may even help prevent certain cancers by disarming harmful free radicals that damage our cells. Another amazing vitamin C benefit: Eating foods rich in vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plants like spinach.
A single clementine contains a little over 1 gram of fiber, which is notable given the fruit’s low-calorie count: 35. High fiber intake encourages healthy digestion by making stools easier to pass and has also been linked to lower body weights, according to multiple studies. All told, clementines’ attractive combination of dietary fiber, high water content, and low calories makes them an ideal snack to support a healthy weight or weight loss.
Fiber also slows the digestion of sugar, allowing the natural sugar in clementines to provide a sustained and substantial boost of energy without spiking blood sugar. It’s why athletes often reach for fruit! Most processed foods with added refined sugars — like doughnuts, cookies, soft drinks — don’t contain fiber, which causes rapid insulin spikes and moments-later hunger pangs.
Clementines abound with phytonutrients — health-promoting compounds found in plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Citrus flavanones, the particular phytonutrients found in clementines and oranges, have been widely studied for their possible role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration.
A pop-in-your-mouth snack that may promote fruit consumption in children, clementines — with only 7 grams of sugar and 9 carbs — are also a good source of folate, thiamine, and potassium.
Festive Clementine and Avocado Salad with Mixed Greens
Serves 4 Adapted from Jeanetteshealthyliving.com
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup fresh clementine orange juice
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
4 clementines, peeled
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1 cup radicchio, sliced
½ walnuts, toasted and chopped
4 tablespoons crumbled cheese: feta, goat or gorgonzola
4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
6 cups mixed baby greens
To make dressing, whisk together oil, clementine juice, minced shallot and salt and pepper to taste.
Place a handful of baby greens on a salad plate. Arrange clementine slices, avocado, radicchio, walnuts, crumbled cheese and pomegranate seeds on top.
Just before serving, drizzle dressing on top.
Look for fruits with a bright orange color and a heavy feel. Clementines will keep at room temperature for up to a week or in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to two weeks. To prevent bruising, don’t store clementines in overcrowded conditions. Like grapefruit, clemetines may interfere with certain drugs: be sure to discuss concerns with your doctor.
Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org.