The mandarin is a citrus fruit and the varieties cultivated in Messinia are Citrus reticulata and the Chios variety. Mandarins are handpicked because they are very sensitive to injuries and mishandling. It is believed that the person who introduced mandarins to Greece was the Russian Rear Admiral Lodewijk Heyden, who played a pivotal role in the Greek War of Independence during the Navarino Naval Battle in 1827.
Mandarins are high in carbohydrates and carotenoids, like β-carotene, which strengthens the antioxidant defense of cells. Furthermore, mandarins are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, substances with possible beneficial effects on eye health. They also contain flavonoids, such as anthocyanidins, which strengthen the antioxidant defense of the body, and vitamin C, which protects the cell against free radicals and helps maintain bone and immune system health.