Health benefits of nectarines include better cellular functioning and improved cardiovascular and digestive health. The antioxidant defense mechanism of nectarines may prove effective in combating major conditions such as obesity-related complications, macular degeneration, and cancer. Consumption of multi-nutrient rich nectarine helps in strengthening the immune system, promoting youthful skin and is an excellent snack option during pregnancy and otherwise.
What are Nectarines?
Nectarine is a delicious fruit which belongs to the Rosaceae family, just like plums and peaches. In fact, they are quite similar to peaches in appearance except for the lack of fuzziness on the skin, which is there on peaches. Nectarines grown in warmer temperate regions are also referred to as stone fruits or drupes as they enclose a hard seed inside their outer juicy flesh.
Known with the botanical name Prunus persica var. nectarina in the research world, the trees of this fruit have a short life and stretch up to a medium height. They have long, shiny and bright green leaves, with slightly serrated margins. On the basis of the cultivars, the delicate flesh of the aromatic nectarine fruit may have the shades of deep yellow or creamy white with the outer skin having colors like pink, red, white or yellow.
Nectarine is a luscious nutrient-dense and low-calorie fruit. It has only 44 calories per 100gm. It offers an impressive array of powerful antioxidants and phenolic compounds along with dietary fiber. Vitamin wealth of nectarines include vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. Nectarines are excellent sources of potassium and other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium, without any harmful cholesterol.
Types of Nectarine
Nectarines come in three main varieties and all are great when eaten fresh:
- White and Yellow Flesh: These varieties have a dark red skin with a smooth texture. White ones are sweeter and less acidic compared to the yellow variety, which is more acidic and a bit tangier to taste.
- Clingstones: The flesh of this variety is attached to the pit (also known as stone) of the fruit. Its fiber can easily get stuck in your teeth and hence, this variety is generally used for canning purposes.
- Freestones and Semi-freestones: Just as the name describes, freestone variety entails those fruits whose pulp separates effortlessly from the seed. The flesh of the semi-freestone variety clings only to certain parts of the pit. The fiber of both these varieties are not as tough as clingstones variety and they are usually preferred for freezing.
Health Benefits of Nectarines
Let’s have a look at some of the major health benefits of nectarine:
Nectarines have a wonderful antioxidant power with a good amount of polyphenols, vitamin C content, and carotenoids such as beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin in higher concentration in the skin of the fruit. These protective antioxidants exert free radical scavenging activities and assist in neutralizing the damaging effects of oxygen free molecules.
Aids in Digestion
Presence of dietary fiber and the alkaline nature of nectarine makes it perfect for maintaining digestive health. The fiber content present in nectarine absorbs water, adds bulk to the diet, regulates bowel movements, and prevents problems like gastritis, constipation, and ulcers.
Consuming whole fruits are linked to lowering blood sugar levels in the body, which eventually helps in treating diabetes. The fibers present in these fruits slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
Nectarine promotes detoxification by preventing the binding of toxins to the colon walls and by flushing harmful elements out of the body. This helps in weight loss and lowering of body mass index.
Research studies have shown that stone fruits such as nectarines contain bioactive compounds such as anthocyanins, catechin, chlorogenic acid and quercetin derivatives which have the potential to combat obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes and cardiac disorders. Nectarine also helps to fight metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk for obesity-related heart diseases.
Anemia is a condition where there is a lack of red blood cells in the body. Iron is an essential mineral needed to produce red blood cells. Although nectarine is not rich in iron, the rich source of vitamin C found in nectarine helps to increase iron absorption in the body. Therefore, including nectarine in your diet prevents you from anemia.
Nectarines contain chlorogenic acid, which helps in prevention of various tumors and cancer such as colon cancer. Chlorogenic acid, as suggested by studies, possesses chemopreventive properties which inhibit the proliferation of colon carcinogenesis. Research studies have also presented qualitative evidence regarding the role of beta-carotene present in the Rosaceae botanical group which also includes nectarines in providing protection against lung cancer.
Nectarines contain lutein, an important nutrient which encourages eye health and helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Various investigative studies have shown that lutein is also an extremely powerful antioxidant which helps in reducing the risk of nuclear cataract. In addition to this, beta-carotene present in the fruit encourages the synthesis of vitamin A, contributes to maintaining healthy eyesight, and prevents diseases like blindness and xeropthalmia.
Hypokalemia is the deficiency of potassium in the body, which may degrade the muscular health and may cause cardiac arrhythmia Nectarines contain potassium, which is essential for proper nerve and cellular function, and the functioning of muscles. Potassium present in stone fruits such as nectarine helps in proteins synthesis, maintain electrolyte balance, optimally utilize carbohydrates, and support metabolic processes.
Improve Cardiac Health
Regular consumption of stone fruits such as nectarines may prove beneficial in maintaining cardiovascular health attributing to the presence of heart-friendly antioxidants. Chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins present in nectarines exert inhibitory action against the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, prevents hardening of arteries and encourages proper circulation of human platelets. Flavonoids found in nectarines may help in preventing the rise in the aggregation of platelets and reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
The inclusion of drupes such as nectarines aids in enhancing the immune defense mechanism of the body. An abundance of antioxidants such as vitamin C, zinc and other protective phenolic components in the fruit increase body’s ability to fight various infections by promoting the synthesis of antibodies. These defending components reduce the risk and intensity of diseases such as malaria and common cold and lead to a speedy recovery of wounds and other illnesses.
Bioflavonoids present in the fruit contributes productively in the skin care. Anti-oxidative components such as vitamin C, lutein and beta-carotene found in nectarines take up the credit for such defensive effect. Beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is instrumental in protecting the skin against damage caused by the exposure to UV radiations. Vitamin C contributes to collagen synthesis, helps in keeping the tissues toned up and maintains the youthfulness of the skin. In addition to this, a research study has advocated the photoprotective effect of lutein present in nectarines in guarding the skin against free radical damage and UV-induced erythema.
Food for Pregnancy
Expectant mothers can benefit from the vitamin and mineral treasure present in nectarines, especially the folate content, which helps in reducing the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida, and also contributes in the overall health of the mother and the baby. The abundance of potassium assists in preventing muscle cramps and keeps up the energy levels by building up the proteins. Fiber keeps up the digestive health and vitamin C content contributes to the proper growth and development of the muscles, teeth and blood vessels of the growing baby. So if you’re pregnant, the next time you feel hungry, just grab a nectarine and feel enriched!
Nectarines contain phosphorus, an essential mineral which plays an important role in the normal functioning of cells and tissues. Phosphorus in the fruit helps in the cellular maintenance and repair. In addition to this, iron present in the fruit helps in the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells and majorly contributes to general growth and development.
Uses of Nectarine
Nectarines are juicy fruits which may be used to accentuate the flavor and health factor of various dishes such as
- Mild Allergies: Those allergic to nectarine may suffer from itching in the mouth and throat, swelling of eyelids, lips, and face. Mild allergies could also result in stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and running nose.
- Anaphylaxis: Severe allergies of nectarine can cause anaphylaxis, which is instability of cardiovascular health and breathing issues. In some cases, this could also be fatal.
- Cyanide Poisoning: Pits or seeds of nectarines contain small amounts of cyanogens which on ingestion may get metabolized to cyanide. Although rare, excess inadvertent ingestion of these pits may result in cyanide poisoning.
- Choking in Kids: The pits may also cause choking problems in little children if left unmonitored.
Generally, first-timers should be naturally precautious before trying anything new in life especially when you are unaware of the allergic reactions.