Amazing Health Benefits of Nectarines

Nectarines are nearly identical to peaches in both their genetic makeup and nutritional profile. The most obvious differences are their skin and flavor. Peaches are covered with fuzz, while nectarines have thin, smooth skin. Nectarines also have slightly firmer flesh and a more sweet-tart flavor. Although their flavors are distinctive, nectarines and peaches can often be interchanged in recipes.

In addition to being low in calories and rich in fiber, nectarines are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. These nutrients offer health benefits in terms of improved metabolism, digestion, and heart health.

Nectarine is the edible fruit of the peach tree, scientifically called Prunus persica. Like peaches, nectarines are also most likely to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago, a country that contributes to 58% of the global production. All this – because nectarines are incredibly nutritious.

The fruit is especially plentiful in vitamin C, niacin, copper, potassium, and fiber. It also contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and other phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it is low in calories and fat.

The wellness benefits of nectarines include:

  • promoting weight management
  • improving skin health
  • reducing blood pressure
  • boosting immunity
  • increasing longevity
  • helping prevent cancer

Nectarine Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one medium nectarine measuring about 2 1/2″ diameter (142g).

  • Calories: 62
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Sugars: 11g
  • Protein: 1.5g

Carbs
One medium nectarine has 15 grams of carbohydrate, making it suitable for most low-carb diets. Many of the carbs in nectarines come from simple carbs, namely sugar. In nectarines, fructose accounts for more than a third of the simple sugars; the rest is made up of glucose and sucrose. As opposed to complex carbs that are gradually broken down into simple sugars, simple carbs are burned quickly and can potentially influence your blood sugar.

Despite the sugar content, nectarines have a relatively modest glycemic index (GI) of 43, more or less in line with a cup of unsweetened bran cereal or one slice of cracked wheat bread. (Anything below 55 is considered a low GI.) Nectarines also deliver 2.4 grams of fiber per serving.

Fat
Nectarines are a low-fat food, with less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving and no cholesterol. The small amount of fat in nectarines is comprised of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Protein
Nectarines are not an especially rich source of protein, delivering just 1.5 grams per serving.

Vitamins and Minerals
Nectarines offer a moderate amount of essential vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA, nectarines provide a healthy proportion of the reference daily intake (RDI) of the following nutrients:

Vitamin A: 9.4% of the RDI

Vitamin C: 13% of the RDI

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 6% of the
RDI

Copper: 4% of the RDI

Potassium: 4% of the RDI

Nectarines also offer a significant amount of the antioxidants beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) and tryptophan (a precursor to niacin). Compared to peaches, nectarines have more plant-based polyphenols.

Are Nectarines Good For You?

Firstly, nectarines and peaches are close cousins. So, the benefits you enjoy from nectarines would be available even from peaches.

Back to the question – is the fruit good for you?

Nectarines are great sources of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and lutein – nutrients that offer tremendous benefits. They enhance immunity, protect vision, and prevent numerous deadly diseases. They also help improve skin health.

Nectarines are rich in fiber, too. And the greatness of fiber needs no special mention. It aids digestion both mechanically and by contributing to a diverse microbiome (fiber feeds probiotics in the gut) and fights against several abdominal ailments, including stomach and colon cancers. And the potassium in nectarines can help manage blood pressure levels.

The beta-carotene and vitamin C in nectarines are powerful antioxidants that strengthen immunity and can prevent the onset of lethal diseases. Lutein can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. One nectarine contains about 150 micrograms of lutein.

Health Benefits

Nectarines are believed to have been cultivated as far back as 4,000 years ago. Like peaches, nectarines have long been used in folk remedies for colic and stomachaches or in Chinese traditional medicine to treat constipation and menstrual pain. While more research is needed, some of the compounds in nectarines could have promise for treating or preventing certain diseases.

May Lower Risk of Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease

The antioxidants in nectarines are believed to offer health benefits by preventing or reducing the risk of these conditions (which are often associated with each other).

Nectarines contain potent polyphenol compounds that can potentially reverse symptoms of metabolic syndrome while simultaneously lowering blood sugar and reducing vascular inflammation associated with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The research suggests that four polyphenolic groups—anthocyanins, chlorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives, and catechins—act on different cell lines, including fat cells, endothelial cells in blood vessels, and macrophage cells that participate in the inflammatory response.

Working in complement, the polyphenol compounds are believed to moderate blood sugar level, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and prevent the accumulation of adipose cells around organs.

Help Prevent Cancer

In a study conducted at the Texas A&M University, mice were given an extract of the fruit. And the findings stated that the fruit had provoked the most aggressive of the cancer cells to kill themselves. The study also showed the fruits with the most red on their skin contained the highest cancer-fighting properties. But there’s a catch – the benefits may not be as effective with canned nectarines (or peaches).

According to another Boston study, the intake of a minimum of 2 servings of nectarines or peaches in a week can cut the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Consumption of the fruit was also linked to a lower risk of tumors.

May Lower Cholesterol

Vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and tryptophan have similar properties. These antioxidant compounds not only help lower vascular inflammation, improving circulation and blood pressure, but can also prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the type associated with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

Despite these potential benefits, there have been few human studies investigating the direct dietary impact of nectarines on any of these conditions.

They Aid In A Person’s Anti-Toxin Defense

While we are talking about what they can do for a person’s internal body, I should mention that nectarines can help contribute to a man/woman’s anti-toxin defense by reducing the oxidative build-up in a person’s body. They can also limit the harmful side-effects of fatty foods and diets.

Not to mention the fact that they offer two-to-three-times the amount of Vitamin A and C than other products produced by man, WHILE also providing a high balance of potassium. There are other fruits that offer these benefits like cherries and plums if you want another recommendation besides nectarines.

Additionally, They Can Improve Your Immunity System

Arguably one of the best benefits of eating these regularly is the fact that they can strengthen your body while also help it fight off disease and illnesses due to the highly productive content of Vitamin C and E found within the product. Along with the beta-carotene inside of it.

They Can Improve An Individual’s Eye Health

Nectarines also contain chemicals known as lutein and zeaxanthin, two essential and enjoyable compounds found inside human’s retina. Additionally, by intaking a hefty dose of these two chemicals, you can potentially decrease the risk of diseases such as cataracts and natural age-related deterioration in the macula of the eyes.

Aid Weight Loss

The natural substances in nectarines fight inflammation and create a domino effect that helps fight obesity. And, as we saw, they can also prevent metabolic syndrome that would otherwise lead to weight gain.

The fiber nectarines contain is mostly soluble, which, as per a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can aid weight loss. The fiber achieves this by converting water into a gel-like substance in the intestines, which then prevents the cholesterol and fats from being absorbed into the blood. This contributes to healthy weight loss. Soluble fiber also reduces bad cholesterol in the body.

According to the Journal of Nutrition, soluble fiber can have powerful effects on health. And as per the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber supplements that claim to aid weight loss are not as effective. Hence, more power to the natural soluble fiber in nectarines!

Fiber is so effective for weight loss that, as per a study, individuals who only added fiber to their diets lost as much weight as people who followed a heart-healthy and low-fat diet plan suggested by the American Heart Association.

They Can Also Help Heal And Protect Your Skin

Nectarines contain bioflavonoids, a chemical that can heighten and contribute to your ability to take care of your skin, primarily due to the amount of other nutritional factors that we discussed being inside this wonderous little fruit like lutein and beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene alone helps protect your skin from UV radiation. All while Vitamin C helps with collagen production, helping your skin maintain a more youthful look (with proper care and hygiene, of course).

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Improves The Individual’s Digestive System

As you have probably taken notice of by this point, nectarines contain a myriad of different chemicals and nutritional expenditures that help the body maintain order, and we are not done yet as they contain fiber which can help with a person’s digestive system. It can also help with a person bowl system and improve if not correct problems like constipation.

Helps Prevent Anemia

For those that do not know, anemia is a condition that occurs when the red blood cells in our bodies see a noticeable drop in production. That is why iron is a necessity for proper production of these precious little cells. While nectarines are not flushed with iron, they do contain plenty of Vitamin C which can act as a means of boosting iron absorption.

They Can Help Those Who Suffer From Asthma

While there are other fruits I would be more inclined to recommend over nectarines, such as citrus, nectarines are highly capable of improving an individual’s asthma condition through the Vitamin C contents. These nutritional values within nectarines are essential as they help regulate and maintain the immune system and its responses to pathogens.

When They’re Best

Nectarines are at their peak in July and August. When shopping, choose those that have a good aroma and are free of blemishes, bruises, soft spots, and wrinkles. The skin should be a creamy yellow to an orange-yellow and have a matte sheen.

Contrary to what most people believe, red patches do not indicate ripeness. However, if you find a green-skinned nectarine, that means it was picked too early and will not ripen any further. Nectarines will soften over time, but once they are picked, they will not become sweeter.

Nectarines picked at their prime will continue to ripen at room temperature. You can speed the process by putting them in a paper bag. A plant hormone known as ethylene will be emitted as the fruit ripens, and it acts as a ripening agent when confined to a small container.

Canned and frozen nectarines are available all year long. Frozen nectarines usually maintain most of their nutritional value. If purchasing canned nectarines, choose those that are packed in water or their own juices so they do not have any added sugar.

How to Prepare Peas

Clingstone nectarines have a large pit (stone) in the center that is hard to remove. To extract the stone easily, wash the nectarine and dry it with a paper towel. Place the nectarine on a cutting board, making a deep cut along the center seam of the fruit and continuing all around the stone. Next, twist the nectarine along the cut in opposite directions so that you have two halves.

If this doesn’t work, make another cut from stem to tip so that you have four equal, quartered portions. Shimmy the knife in the stone to gradually loosen each quarter. If a section is not easily removed, work a small paring knife or spoon around the stone until the fruit is free.

Nectarines are great eaten by themselves or paired with a handful of nuts or seeds. They are also a wonderful addition to salads, pancakes, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, and hot cereals.

You can dice them finely and mix them with cilantro, lime juice, diced red onion, and sweet chili sauce for delicious fruity salsa. Try adding chopped nectarines to smoothies, or gently cook and purée for a no-sugar-added dessert topping.

Summary

Nectarines are a high source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber, among other nutrients.

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in this fruit help promote various aspects of wellness, such as boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, and promoting longevity.

Sometimes, the health benefits of a certain food are partly due to what it does not contain. In the case of nectarines, the low calories and fat and the high fiber content also make it helpful for weight management.

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