Summertime means picnics in the park, beach days, backyard barbecues, and indulging in sweet, juicy stone fruit. Peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, pluots, and cherries all belong to the stone fruit family, meaning that they all contain pits inside. The stone fruit season typically lasts from May to the beginning of October, but the most succulent varieties are available in June, July, and August.
Stone fruits contain large quantities of antioxidant compounds, primarily because they mature early. The polyphenols and antioxidant activity in peaches, plums, and nectarines, for instance, have been tested to analyze their proanthocyanidins. According to several studies, nectarines have the highest levels of flavonoids, phenols, and antioxidant activity. Proanthocyanidins, which have been know to help remedy urinary tract infections, were found in abundance in cherries, peaches, and nectarines, while hydroxycinnamic acids, powerful polyphenols that benefit intestinal health, were present in apricots, peaches, and plums.
How To Select Stone Fruit:
As with most fruits and vegetables, use your fingers to feel how squishy or firm they are, and check to see if the fruits are bruised. When you buy peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums, they should be firm and free of bruises and wrinkles. You should also be able to smell their sweetness.
How To Store Stone Fruit:
A lot of people don’t know how to store stone fruit, so they are commonly thrown out as a result. Nectarines and peaches ripen quickly and typically last two or three days in the fridge when you pick ripe selections. Purchasing under-ripened fruits will change this shelf life. Apricots and plums last about five days in the refrigerator, while cherries are good for one week in the fridge. Please note that you should not wash your stone fruits until you are ready to eat them. Washing them before storing them in the fridge only accelerates the ripening process.
Stone Fruit Benefits
Most stone fruit, especially peaches and nectarines, are loaded with vitamin C, which works to increase collagen production. Vitamin C also helps to prevent cell damage, arterial build-up, and works to boost the immune system. Eating one large peach, according to research, will provide you with 15% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C.
Gout & Insomnia Remedy:
We are singling out cherries here because they have been known to decrease the pain of a gout attack. According to a study in Arthritis & Rheumatology, gout patients who ate 10-12 cherries per day, over a two-day period, reduced their risk of gout attacks by 35%. Cherries on the tarter side are naturally rich in melatonin, a hormone that helps to induce sleep. One study found that melatonin levels increased dramatically after consuming tart cherries. Perhaps a handful of tart cherries an hour or two before bed may help you sleep through the night.
There is more and more evidence that eye health is associated with a balanced diet that is rich in carotenoids. These antioxidants, which are found in brightly colored produce like carrots, sweet potatoes, and stone fruit varieties, have been known to promote healthy eyesight. Plums and apricots are excellent sources of carotenoids, and peaches contain lots of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is linked to improved vision.
Vitamin K is a nutrient that is often overlooked, but it plays a big role in maintaining strong teeth and bones. Healthy vitamin K levels can help you stave off tooth decay and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. While vitamin K is commonly found in leafy green vegetables, plums happen to be rich in vitamin K. Two plums satisfy about 10% of your RDI of vitamin K.
All stone fruits are excellent sources of fiber, which the body needs to efficiently move food through the digestive tract and regulate bowel movements. Rather than spending lots money on laxatives, consume a regular amount of fiber to keep waste moving through the intestines. Make sure to drink lots of water as you increase your fiber intake, otherwise you may experience constipation.