Nectarine Uses & Health Benefits That You Should Know
For the first time, Hale Groves is bringing you Farm-Fresh Nectarines, a stone fruit that’s a close cousin of the summer peach. Fresh nectarines look almost identical to fresh peaches, only their red-and-gold skins are smooth instead of downy, and their flesh is a little bit firmer and has a slightly citrusy flavor that peaches lack. Nectarine uses include standing in as a substitute for peaches in any recipe that calls for peaches – in fact, nectarines are a little easier to use in cooking because, unlike peaches, you generally don’t have to peel them first.
Nectarines are available during the summer, making them a great addition to refreshing drinks and desserts. In 2003, China was the leading peach and nectarine producer, accounting for 38 percent of its global production.
Health Benefits of Nectarines
Nectarines are rich in vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytochemicals, natural compounds in plant foods that enhance health and help prevent disease. Plus, nectarines – like most fresh fruit – are low in calories and fat.
How are nectarines good for you? Nectarines can help you:
- Strengthen your immune system. Like most fruits, nectarines are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants that help fight infection and repel free radicals. The fruit’s anti-microbial properties also serve to hasten healing from wounds and viral infections. A natural blood purifier, vitamin C helps flush toxins from your system, keeps your digestive system functioning properly, and helps prevent colds and other common winter ailments.
- Prevent cancer. Studies suggest that a diet rich in yellow and green fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of developing cancer. Nectarines fall into the category of yellow fruits. Nectarines also contain a phytochemical known as anthocyanin, which studies have shown has anti-tumor properties due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and mutation-preventing actions.
- Lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Nectarines contain light levels of potassium, an essential mineral that helps lower your blood pressure, which is a primary risk factor for heart disease. Potassium has also been shown to decrease your risk of stroke, heart attack and coronary heart disease.
- Give you healthy skin. There’s a reason people who include fresh fruit in their diet regularly often have glowing skin. Nectarines contain both vitamin A and copper, two nutrients that have been found to be important for the health of your skin. Vitamin A protects the skin from UV radiation while copper stimulates the maturation of collagen, the protein that gives skin elasticity. The niacin in nectarines also helps keep skin healthy.
- Control your weight. Got a craving for something sweet? Instead of reaching for a slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream, reach for a fresh nectarine. The very name comes from “nectar,” which speaks to the fruit’s sweetness, but the fruit is much lower in calories and fat than snacks full of processed sugar.
Nectarines are also high in fiber, which promotes a feeling of fullness and helps reduce overeating. A bonus of that high fiber content in nectarines? Nothing beats fresh fruits for digestive health. Fiber is one of the best natural constipation remedies available, which is why many people often turn to fruit for constipation relief.
Ways to Enjoy Nectarines
Munching on a ripe, raw nectarine is one of the joys of eating summer fruit, though there are plenty of other things to do with this orange orb of juicy sweetness. For starters, try slicing them in half, removing the pit, and placing them directly on the hot grill. You can do this with peaches too, but nectarines prove firmer and hold up better to the heat while they caramelize the sticky sugars. Serve them warm and steaming with a scoop of ice cream, drizzled with honey and balsamic if desired.
As with other stone fruits, nectarines can be used to make delicious jams and jellies. They also are wonderful in baked recipes such as pies, cobblers, and tarts. Nectarines can also be used in savory dishes – try chopping and mixing the fruit with jalapeños for a sweet and spicy salsa, pair them with grilled pork chops, or use them to make a chutney.
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