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Orange vs. Mandarin Orange — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on June 21, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan Article author photo Astghik Baghinyan
Orange
vs
Mandarin orange

Summary

Oranges are two times richer in vitamin C compared to mandarin oranges. They also have negligibly fewer calories, fats, and carbohydrates and slightly more protein and fiber than mandarins

Mandarin oranges visually differ from oranges by their size and shape, being smaller and less round. As part of the Citrus genus, both fruits are rich in phytochemicals such as flavonoids and carotenoids, because of which they express cardioprotective, antidiabetic, and anti-cancer qualities.

Overall, oranges win in the nutrition category; however, both fruits have various health benefits, and at the end of the day, the choice greatly depends on personal preference.

Introduction

Oranges and mandarin oranges may seem like two different sizes of the same fruit. Belonging to the same Rutaceae family and Citrus genus, they do have a lot in common; however, they have their differences too.

It is assumed that orange (also called sweet orange) is a hybrid between pomelo and mandarins. The first mention of sweet orange in history was recorded in Chinese literature in 314 BC (1). Sweet oranges are the most popular type of citrus in the world.

Mandarin oranges visually differ from oranges by their size and shape, being smaller and less round. The taste is often sweeter than that of an orange. As the ancestor of sweet oranges, mandarins have naturally been around for longer.

Sweet orange usually has a thick rind, and inside, there is the white and bitter mesocarp, whereas the rind of mandarin orange is much thinner, and the lesser amount of mesocarp makes it much easier to peel. The endocarp of both fruits is separated into segments. Mandarin oranges contain much fewer seeds as opposed to sweet oranges.

People often use the words mandarin, tangerine, clementine, and satsuma interchangeably. However, tangerines, clementines, and satsumas are all varieties of mandarin oranges. Tangerines are bright orange and less sweet. Clementines are the most common type of mandarin oranges in stores; they are very sweet and easy to peel. Satsumas are also sweet and easy to peel; however, they are also easy to damage (2).

Nutrition

One medium-sized serving of mandarin orange is about 88 grams, while one medium-sized serving of an orange is about 131 grams. 

To make the comparison easy, we will refer to the 100-gram serving sizes in this article. Keep in mind that our graphics are given for a 300-gram serving for better visual comparison. 

Macronutrients and Calories

Both oranges and mandarin oranges have similar macronutrient composition, with negligible differences in the amount of contents. 

Mandarin oranges contain negligibly more fats and carbs, sugars in particular, and slightly more calories. A 100-gram serving of a mandarine orange provides 53 calories, while a similar serving of oranges provides 47 caloriesOranges, on the other hand, have slightly higher levels of protein and fiber. Both foods do not contain cholesterol.

Oranges contain all the essential amino acids, whereas mandarin oranges entirely lack the essential amino acid methionine.

Orange would be the right choice between these two citrus fruits during low-carb, low-fat, or low-calorie diets.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +16%
Contains more Other +18.9%
Contains more Fats +158.3%
Contains more Carbs +13.5%
Equal in Water - 85.17
12% 87%
Protein: 0.94 g
Fats: 0.12 g
Carbs: 11.75 g
Water: 86.75 g
Other: 0.44 g
13% 85%
Protein: 0.81 g
Fats: 0.31 g
Carbs: 13.34 g
Water: 85.17 g
Other: 0.37 g
Contains more Protein +16%
Contains more Other +18.9%
Contains more Fats +158.3%
Contains more Carbs +13.5%
Equal in Water - 85.17

Vitamins

One cannot definitively say whether oranges or mandarin oranges have more vitamins.

Oranges contain double the amount of vitamin C that mandarin oranges have. 

A 100-gram serving of oranges provides 53.2mg of vitamin C, while a similar serving of mandarin oranges provides 26.7mg. Hence, both are great sources of vitamin C, which is essential for immune system function

Although the amounts of other vitamins present in a single serving of both oranges are almost negligible, when comparing the two, oranges are slightly richer in vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, and vitamin B9 (folate). On the other hand, mandarin oranges contain a higher concentration of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B3, and vitamin B6. But again, the amount of these vitamins in a single serving is minimal.

Both do not contain vitamin D, vitamin K, and vitamin B12.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Orange
5
:
Contains more Vitamin C +99.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +50%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +15.7%
Contains more Folate +87.5%
Contains more Vitamin A +202.7%
Contains more Vitamin E +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +33.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +30%
Contains more Choline +21.4%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.036
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 14% 4% 0% 178% 22% 10% 6% 15% 14% 23% 0% 5% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 41% 4% 0% 89% 15% 9% 8% 13% 18% 12% 0% 6% 0%
Contains more Vitamin C +99.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +50%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +15.7%
Contains more Folate +87.5%
Contains more Vitamin A +202.7%
Contains more Vitamin E +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +33.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +30%
Contains more Choline +21.4%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.036

Minerals

A single serving of oranges and mandarin oranges contains no significant levels of any minerals. 

However, if we compare the minimal amounts present in each food, oranges are a little higher in calcium and potassium. However, mandarin oranges contain larger amounts of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Both fruits contain similar amounts of copper and zinc. Oranges do not contain sodium, whereas mandarin oranges do, although, again, these levels of sodium and any other above-mentioned minerals in both oranges are negligible

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Selenium +400%
Contains more Iron +50%
Contains more Magnesium +20%
Contains more Phosphorus +42.9%
Contains more Manganese +56%
Equal in Calcium - 37
Equal in Potassium - 166
Equal in Zinc - 0.07
Equal in Copper - 0.042
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 12% 4% 8% 6% 16% 0% 2% 15% 4% 3%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 12% 6% 9% 9% 15% 1% 2% 14% 6% 1%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Contains more Selenium +400%
Contains more Iron +50%
Contains more Magnesium +20%
Contains more Phosphorus +42.9%
Contains more Manganese +56%
Equal in Calcium - 37
Equal in Potassium - 166
Equal in Zinc - 0.07
Equal in Copper - 0.042

Glycemic Index 

The glycemic index is a rating system used for foods containing carbohydrates. Mandarin oranges have a slightly higher glycemic index; however, both fruits be classified as low glycemic index foods.  

Raw oranges from Canada have an average glycemic index of 40, while mandarin segments, canned in juice, have a glycemic index of 47 (3, 4)

Acidity

One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value, which shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism.

Based on Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL), oranges are a little more alkaline-forming.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

Both oranges and mandarin oranges have been proven to have a positive association with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases due to their high contents of phytochemicals.

Evidence suggests that fruits in the Citrus genus significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease risk, including myocardial infarction, dyslipidemia, and coronary artery pathology, due to the high content of flavonoids. The potential mechanism of action may be related to the intracellular pathways involved in direct cardiovascular and cardiometabolic effects mediated by naringenin, hesperetin, and eriodictyol or their glycosylated derivatives (5).

Citrus flavonoids scavenge free radicals, resulting in reduced oxidative stress, improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, modulated lipid metabolism and adipocyte differentiation, suppressed apoptosis, and improved endothelial dysfunction. Citrus flavonoids also modulate several signaling pathways controlling inflammation and other processes.

Last but not least, citrus flavonoids have been found to modulate different signaling pathways involved in adiposity and adipocyte differentiation and hence, could be of significant value for the development of antiobesity agents (6).

Compounds called carotenoids are what gives citrus fruits their bright orange and yellow coloring. Satsumas are rich in a specific type of carotenoid called β-cryptoxanthin. Due to this, they have been observed to lower cardiovascular disease risk. However, additional supplementation of β-cryptoxanthin to satsuma juice did not show improved results (7).

Citrus contains a minimal amount of salt, otherwise called sodium chloride and is also high in potassium. This high-potassium to low-sodium ratio makes citrus fruits favorable for people with high blood pressure (8). Oranges contain more potassium and less sodium when compared to mandarin oranges, making them the better choice for people struggling with hypertension.

Diabetes

As mentioned earlier, citrus fruits, such as oranges and mandarins, generally have low glycemic indices. Nevertheless, the glycemic index of mandarin oranges is slightly higher than that of sweet oranges.

Studies in experimental diabetes models demonstrate the efficacy of citrus flavonoids in improving glucose tolerance, increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity, and decreasing insulin resistance. These flavonoids may also reduce hepatic glucose output and intestinal glucose absorption, enhance peripheral glucose uptake, suppress inflammation, and modulate the activity of enzymes and transporters involved in glucose and lipid metabolism (6).

Long-term supplementation with flavanones has been observed to reduce glycemia and insulinemia in diabetic or insulin-resistant animals fed a high-fat diet. Additionally, glucose tolerance was improved. Revealing the insulin-like property of naringenin has further demonstrated the ability of naringenin and hesperidin to reduce the specific receptor expression and glucokinase activity, which is a key enzyme involved in glucose use. Another flavonoid that mandarins are rich in is the poly-methoxy flavone called tangeretin. In diabetic rats, tangeretin significantly reduced plasma glucose levels and increased insulin secretion, enhancing complex glucose metabolism (5).

One study identified a moderate inverse association between plasma vitamin C and fasting glucose and body mass index in adult subjects across the glycaemic spectrum. However, this relationship may be due to the depletion of vitamin C due to oxidative stress and inflammation resulting from dysglycemia, overweight/obesity, and smoking rather than lower dietary intakes. Further research is necessary to decide whether vitamin C supplementation through fruits can lead to a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus or complications related to metabolic syndrome and diabetes (9).

Cancer

There are many studies concerning the consumption of citrus fruits and the risk of cancer. The most studied cancer associated with citrus is stomach cancer, with most studies displaying protective qualities of citrus fruits on gastric cancer. One study showed that the consumption of citrus fruits protects the organism from non-cardia gastric cancer but not from cardia gastric cancer (8).

Overall, the greatest protection for increased citrus consumption appears to be for esophageal, oropharyngeal/ laryngeal (mouth, larynx, and pharynx), and stomach cancer. For these cancers, those studies showing a protective effect of citrus fruits showed risk reductions of 40-50% (8).

Some studies have also shown increased citrus consumption to lead to a decreased risk of breast, endometrial, gallbladder and kidney, urothelial, and thyroid cancers (8).

Allergy

Citrus fruits can contain various allergens. These include lipid transfer proteins, profilin, and pectin or, in case of contact dermatitis, limonene.

Citrus allergies often have cross-reactivity among other fruits and plants, such as pollen, apples, peaches, and others (10, 11).

Citrus allergy symptoms appear after eating or drinking something made with raw citrus fruits and include oral allergy syndrome, which is itching, swelling, burning, or redness of the mouth area. In rare cases, a citrus allergy can cause anaphylaxis. In people allergic to limonene, symptoms occur after touching the citrus and manifest as contact dermatitis (12).

It is important to differentiate a citrus allergy from sensitivity to citric acid. People can experience adverse effects from citric acid; however, it does not cause an immune response in the human organism (13).

Juice or Whole Fruit

Which is the healthier choice: the citrus or the fruit made from the citrus?

Processed orange and mandarin juices tend to be higher in carbohydrates due to the added sugars, so the whole fruit is the better choice if you watch your sugar intake. However, one research showed that whole fresh fruit, 100% fruit juice, and sweetened fruit juice did not significantly affect the blood glucose levels in non-diabetic individuals (14).

A study has found that the levels of carotenoids and vitamin C are slightly lowered during the processing of oranges into juice. At the same time, it also improves the absorption of carotenoids and vitamin C, making it more bioavailable to the human organism (15).

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: June 21, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan

Infographic

Orange vs Mandarin orange infographic
Infographic link

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -61.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +160.9%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +160%
24% 37% 40%
Saturated Fat: 0.015 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.023 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.025 g
24% 37% 40%
Saturated Fat: 0.039 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.06 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.065 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -61.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +160.9%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +160%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Orange Mandarin orange
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in price Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Orange Mandarin orange Opinion
Net carbs 9.35g 11.54g Mandarin orange
Protein 0.94g 0.81g Orange
Fats 0.12g 0.31g Mandarin orange
Carbs 11.75g 13.34g Mandarin orange
Calories 47kcal 53kcal Mandarin orange
Fructose 2.4g Mandarin orange
Sugar 9.35g 10.58g Orange
Fiber 2.4g 1.8g Orange
Calcium 40mg 37mg Orange
Iron 0.1mg 0.15mg Mandarin orange
Magnesium 10mg 12mg Mandarin orange
Phosphorus 14mg 20mg Mandarin orange
Potassium 181mg 166mg Orange
Sodium 0mg 2mg Orange
Zinc 0.07mg 0.07mg
Copper 0.045mg 0.042mg Orange
Manganese 0.025mg 0.039mg Mandarin orange
Selenium 0.5µg 0.1µg Orange
Vitamin A 225IU 681IU Mandarin orange
Vitamin A RAE 11µg 34µg Mandarin orange
Vitamin E 0.18mg 0.2mg Mandarin orange
Vitamin C 53.2mg 26.7mg Orange
Vitamin B1 0.087mg 0.058mg Orange
Vitamin B2 0.04mg 0.036mg Orange
Vitamin B3 0.282mg 0.376mg Mandarin orange
Vitamin B5 0.25mg 0.216mg Orange
Vitamin B6 0.06mg 0.078mg Mandarin orange
Folate 30µg 16µg Orange
Choline 8.4mg 10.2mg Mandarin orange
Tryptophan 0.009mg 0.002mg Orange
Threonine 0.015mg 0.016mg Mandarin orange
Isoleucine 0.025mg 0.017mg Orange
Leucine 0.023mg 0.028mg Mandarin orange
Lysine 0.047mg 0.032mg Orange
Methionine 0.02mg 0.002mg Orange
Phenylalanine 0.031mg 0.018mg Orange
Valine 0.04mg 0.021mg Orange
Histidine 0.018mg 0.011mg Orange
Saturated Fat 0.015g 0.039g Orange
Monounsaturated Fat 0.023g 0.06g Mandarin orange
Polyunsaturated fat 0.025g 0.065g Mandarin orange

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Orange Mandarin orange
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
22%
Orange
16%
Mandarin orange
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
7%
Orange
7%
Mandarin orange

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Orange
Orange is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.23g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Orange
Orange contains less Sodium (difference - 2mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Orange
Orange is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.024g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Orange
Orange is lower in glycemic index (difference - 2)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($0.4)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Orange - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169097/nutrients
  2. Mandarin orange - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169105/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.