Did you know that fruits whose juicy flesh and skin grow around a hard seed are known as stone fruits? While the pit is relative to the size of the fruit, any fruit from as small as a cherry to as large as a mango are all classified in this family.
Stone fruits are at their peak from June to September. And, beyond being in season, now there’s even more reason to reach for nectarines, cherries, mangoes, apricots, peaches and plums, beyond just their juicy sweet taste.
For a small number of calories, fruits pack a big nutritional punch and contain a variety of nutrients including fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Here are 5 reasons you should feel good reaching for this in-season fruit:
- Antioxidants: Anthocyanins are an antioxidant found in cherries that are responsible for giving the fruit their deep, rich hue. Beyond color beauty research supports anthocyanin’s ability to block inflammation while helping to prevent muscle damage1—a perk for all you athletes out there!
- Reduce risk of disease: Phytochemicals, found in high levels in fruits and vegetables, are not essential nutrients, but their intake has anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies support the presence of bioactive phenolic compounds in stone fruits that can potentially be helpful in weight management.2
- High in vitamins A and C: Just 1 cup of apricots provides over a quarter of your vitamin C needs.3 Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption as well as helps the body form collagen – the main protein in our connective tissue. Peaches, nectarines and apricots are especially high in vitamin A as well4. A fat soluble vitamin, vitamin A is important for normal vision, maintaining health skin, hair and nails, and for immune system function. Beta carotene is an antioxidant form of vitamin A found in orange colored fruits and vegetables, like apricots and peaches.
- Help maintain mineral balance: Potassium is a crucial mineral for proper nerve and muscle function. Two small peaches provide the body with slightly more potassium than one banana, so when in season, reach for the peach5!
- Fiber: Fruits, especially when eaten with the skin intact, provide the body with a nice serving of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber comes from the skin, and helps regulate GI movement and prevent constipation. Soluble fiber, found from the flesh of the fruit, promotes and helps maintain healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Tips for Buying Stone Fruits
- When purchasing stone fruit, opt for when they are in-season—late spring through summer—which are grown in the U.S. This will ensure less travel time from farm to your table, and sweeter, riper fruit.
- Examine fruit for a minimally flawed skin, free from bruises or punctures. Flesh should feel somewhere between firm and squishy!
- Give your fruit a sniff! Stone fruits impart a sweet and ready aroma, signaling when they are ripe.
For breakfast: Enjoy these fruits topped on your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or blended into a smoothie.
For dinner: You can broil or bake stone fruits or even throw them on the grill to give a wonderful dimension to your meal. Or reach for them as is for a sweet, refreshing midday snack.
For more stone fruit recipe inspiration head over to the MyVega.com Recipe Center.
What’s your favorite way to eat stone fruit?
- Connolly, DA et al. (2006).Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 40(8):679-83. Accessed 6/25/14 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2579450/
- Prior, R.L., and Cao, G., (2000)Antioxidant Phytochemicals in Fruits and Vegetables: Diet and Health Implications, 35(4) Accessed 6/25/14 from http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/35/4/588.full.pdf+html
- United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Apricots, raw. Accessed on 6/23/14 from: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2218
- United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Peaches, raw. Accessed on 6/23/14 from: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2386
United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Peaches, raw. Accessed on 6/23/14 from: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2386