What is Ugli Fruit? What it Tastes Like & Comparison to Oranges

Raw Green Organic Ugli Fruit Ready to Eat

What is Ugli Fruit? What it Tastes Like & Comparison to Oranges

While choosing a fruit with the word ugly in the name doesn’t seem particularly appetizing, it’s important to know that ugli fruit, also known as tangelo, is actually a tasty citrus fruit you enjoy as a snack or in a variety of recipes. If you’re not familiar with ugli fruit, you might wonder what type of fruit it is.

Ugli fruit, also known as the Jamaican tangelo, is a citrus fruit that is a natural hybrid of oranges and grapefruits. This fruit first appeared in Jamaica but has now become popular in different regions as well. Despite its name, which first started as a nickname because of its unappealing appearance, it is a delicious citrus fruit that has many health benefits as well as a sweet and tangy flavor.

If you’re curious about ugli fruit and the benefits of eating it, keep reading to find out more about this citrus fruit.

Ugli fruit on white background
Ugli fruit is a natural hybrid of an orange or tangerine and grapefruit.


What Is Ugli Fruit?

Oranges and grapefruits are both common citrus fruits–but what do these fruits have in common other than the fact that they’re citrus? These fruits came together to form a hybrid known as ugli fruit, although its original name was Jamaican tangelo.

Ugli fruit was first discovered in Jamaica and popped up as a natural hybrid between a grapefruit and an orange or tangerine. If you’re wondering why it’s known as ugli fruit, it actually did get its name from its appearance.

According to most stories, it was first called ugli fruit because an importer saw the tangelo for the first time and asked for more of the “ugly fruit.” It’s not surprising considering it’s not the most physically appealing fruit. 

The flavor of ugli fruit is similar to that of an orange. Although it does have quite a bit in common with the grapefruit as well, it’s not quite as bitter and is similar in sweetness to an orange or tangerine.

The outer appearance of ugli fruit is characterized by a green or yellow peel that’s typically lumpy and wrinkled, hence the name. The inside of the fruit looks similar to an orange or grapefruit although the color is a cross between the two. 

You can eat ugli fruit the same way you would any other citrus fruit. All you have to do is peel the skin and pull apart the pieces on the inside. Like most other fruits, there are many nutritional benefits to eating ugli fruit and you’re a fan of citrus, it’s definitely worth trying.

Nutritional Value of Ugli Fruit

Fruit is beneficial in many ways, but it’s also recommended to eat it in moderation. This is often due to the calories, carbs, and sugar. This is a wise recommendation, especially with certain types of fruits. Although fruit is often filled with fiber and other nutrients, it is important to keep in mind how much you’re eating when it comes to the nutritional value. 

Here’s a look at the nutritional value of ugli fruit per 100 grams:

  • 47 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 11.6 grams of carbs
  • 2.1 grams of fiber
  • 9.5 grams of sugar
  • 1.1 grams of protein

Although it’s relatively low in carbs, calories, and sugar, there are also many other nutritional benefits to eating ugli fruit and it’s rich in vitamin C as well as other nutrients.

What Does Ugli Fruit Taste Like?

If you’ve never tried ugli fruit, your first question may be what does it taste like? Despite its unappealing outer appearance, it’s a tasty citrus fruit you can enjoy as a snack on its own or as part of a salad or fruit plate.

As far as the flavor, it’s sweet and tangy, similar to many other citrus fruits. Although it does have a slight bitterness, the flavor is closer to that of an orange or tangerine than a grapefruit.

Some people who eat ugli fruit describe it as a sweeter version of a grapefruit while others say it has a honey-like flavor. If you can imagine mixing the flavors of an orange, tangerine, and grapefruit all together, that’s what you’ll find in an ugli fruit.

Benefits of Eating Ugli Fruit

Ugli fruit isn’t just tasty, it also has many benefits. From the amount of vitamins and minerals to the anti-inflammatory properties, adding this type of fruit to your diet can boost your health in many ways. Here are some of the benefits of eating this type of citrus:

Low in Calories

While not all fruits are low in calories, ugli fruit is relatively low in calories with less than 50 calories in 100 grams. This can make it a healthy snack to eat, even if you’re trying to lose weight. Eating fruit is also a way to fulfill sweet cravings without giving into unhealthy snacks like candy or cookies.

Although one serving of this fruit doesn’t have as much fiber as other high-fiber fruits like passion fruit or avocado, the small amount of fiber can still help you feel full longer.

High in Vitamin C

One of the main benefits of eating citrus fruit is the amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a necessary nutrient that can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, boost your immune system, and help you live an overall healthier life.

Ugli fruit has high amounts of this powerful antioxidant with 100 grams fulfilling 90% of your daily value of vitamin C.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Another benefit to eating ugli fruit is the anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory effect is due to the presence of a flavonoid known as naringenin. This antioxidant can help reduce inflammation, which when left unchecked, can lead to serious health conditions. 

There is a need for more research to determine how effective this antioxidant is, but studies have shown that it can benefit your health in many ways.

tangerine, grapefruit and ugli on a cutting board
Although this fruit has a lot in common with oranges and grapefruits, there are many differences as well.

©Daniele Mezzadri/Shutterstock.com

Ugli Fruit vs Oranges

The fruit that ugli fruit is most commonly compared to is the orange. It’s not surprising that many people would make this comparison, especially because ugli fruit is a natural hybrid of oranges or tangerines, and grapefruits.

When you cut it open, the inside of this fruit does look similar to an orange. It also tastes similar to an orange even though it’s more tangy. They also share a similar appearance on the outside, but oranges tend to be a bit smoother than ugli fruit. Also, oranges are typically round while ugli fruit has a tear-drop shape.

Is Ugli Fruit a Grapefruit?

Grapefruit is another one of the fruits used to make ugli fruit and these two fruits have a lot in common as well. However, grapefruits are normally very bitter, and ugli fruit is much sweeter. It does have some of the bitterness of grapefruit but with more sweetness and tang.

One of the major differences in their nutritional values is the presence of furanocoumarins in grapefruit. Furanocoumarins are a naturally occurring compound found in grapefruit. While there are many benefits to this compound, it can also react in a negative way to those who are taking certain medications. Unlike grapefruit, ugli fruit doesn’t contain furanocoumarins.

Final Thoughts

Ugli fruit isn’t a type of citrus you can find everywhere, but it is now exported from Florida as well as Jamaica. This fruit, a hybrid between an orange and a grapefruit, was first discovered in Jamaica, and the name was trademarked by the family who originally discovered it.

When it comes to the flavor of ugli fruit, it tastes most similar to an orange but is slightly tangier and does have a slight bitterness like a grapefruit. Despite its unappealing appearance, ugli fruit is a delicious type of citrus with numerous health benefits.

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