Healthy benefits from tasty summer treats
I’ll admit it yet again: I’m a sucker for seasonal fruits. And what season is it now? Peach season. Plum season. Nectarine and apricot season.
Excuse me while I drool into the keyboard.
There was a time, believe it or not, when I didn’t like stone fruits. The texture bothered me, and I thought they were oddly tart. Turns out I was eating them all wrong! Stone fruits are best enjoyed at the peak of ripeness–which is right now, when they’re in season, not midwinter after they’ve been trucked to the store from halfway across the country.
These vibrant treats are as nutritious as they are tasty. No matter what your favorite stone fruit is, you get a blast of health-promoting compounds every time you bite into one and let the juice run down your arm.
Nutrition in Stone Fruits
Stone fruits of all kinds are high in vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants. Though vitamin C builds immunity and supports skin health, and potassium helps maintain healthy fluid balance, it’s the antioxidants that make these fruits truly amazing. Compounds known as polyphenols have been shown to posses anti-cancer properties, and tests on stone fruit extracts display the potential to help people struggling with insulin resistance and glucose sensitivity. In fact, these compounds are so powerful that they may be able to improve all aspects of metabolic syndrome, a condition closely related with the development of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Specific Stone Fruit Benefits
Each type of stone fruit has its own additional perks.
- Peaches are high in carotenes and flavanoids, which may give them antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Vitamins A is good for your eyes and aids vitamin C in promoting healthy skin.
- Plums serve as a source of vitamin K as well as several B vitamins. Phenolic compounds in the fruit display anticancer effects. Plum extracts may be able to kill breast cancer cells without harming the surrounding tissue.
- The high levels of of beta-carotene in nectarines protect against free radical damage to preserve healthy cells. Antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins may prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, thereby lowering heart disease risk.
- Apricots are a good source of iron, which may be easier to absorb thanks to the accompanying vitamin C. Apricots also contain carotenoids and xanthophylls, phytonutrients that are correlated with eye health. Catechins help to protect against inflammation that can cause damage in the body.
- Cherries are also considered a stone fruit and, according to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, contain anthocyanidins that display COX-blocking power on par with that of over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. They’re also a source of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep patterns.
Selecting & Storing
Don’t make the same mistake that I did and settle for mediocre stone fruits! Here’s how to find the best and keep them as fresh as possible:
- Look for heavy fruits with intact skins and good color. Avoid green patches and wrinkles.
- Peaches, plums and nectarines should give a little under gentle pressure. Apricots are ripe when they’re still firm.
- Stone fruits retain their flavor best if stored at room temperature. Refrigerate if you can’t enjoy them within a couple of days.
- If your peaches, nectarines, plums or apricots need to ripen, place them in a paper bag on the counter and check them daily until they’re ready.
The best thing about stone fruits, of course, is eating them! Enjoy your favorites straight up (with a napkin handy to catch errant juice trails!) or use them in recipes like crumbles, cobblers and pies. Add them to salads or pair them with savory dishes for a delightful twist. I’ve heard that peaches are even great on the grill! Whatever strikes your fancy, you’ll be supporting optimal health every time you dig in to fresh stone fruits.
Want to learn more about how stone fruits and other plant foods can help you achieve vibrant health? Schedule a FREE Power-Up Prep session with Quantum Vegan today! We’ll get on the phone, talk about your health concerns and set up a plan to get you on track to a healthier future.