With the onset of colder days, the long-awaited mandarin season has begun – tasty, sour & sweet – they are taking over green markets. Mandarins are known for their striking health benefits, and because they are homegrown, the price is not too high as is the case with other fruits and vegetables in Croatia.
If you happen to be visiting this area in the fall, and you just so happen to engage somebody in a conversation about this particular fruit, he or she definitely won’t forget to mention the Neretva River valley because its mandarins are the best Croatia has to offer.
The mandarin tree originates from the Rutaceae family, Citrus genus. It’s an evergreen tree with a height of up to 3 meters. Compared to oranges, mandarins are more easily peeled, and following that logic, eaten.
Mandarins found their home in south-east Asia, and their name from the clothes worn by Chinese officials – Mandarins. Moreover, mandarins have been grown in China for thousands of years but didn’t reach Europe until the 19th century.
If you’re racking your brains whether or not mandarins are a good snack idea, think no more – apart from being tasty, they’re very healthy, with high nutritional value, and at the same time, they’re low in calories. Rich in vitamin C, yet another appealing characteristic, a powerful antioxidant, which among other things, helps with the synthesis of elastin and collagen, that is proteins present in our skin, muscles and other connective tissue. Antioxidants are, as most of you know, our loyal friends. They selfishly protect our bodies from cell destruction. You see, free radicals, in what is known as a redox reaction, can become harmful to our bodies if they don’t reattach to antioxidants. Moreover, vitamin C helps ward off a cold which is very important at this time of year. Mandarins are also rich in folic acid which plays an important role in our bodies, especially when it comes to cell division which in turn is important for the fetus and the nervous system.
The smell of mandarins, spread through the air in the process of peeling one (or two), has a soothing effect on us which is why they’re a good solution for stress relief but also, for reducing allergic reactions.
So the next time you go to your local green market, make sure your grocery list includes this healthy fall citrus.