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. 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.
Benefits of nectarine
- Antioxidant Defense – According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 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.
- Anti-diabetic – 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.
- Weight Loss – 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.
- Prevents Anemia – 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.
- Anti-cancer Potential – Nectarines contain chlorogenic acid, which may help in the 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. A study by Dr. Margaret Wright of the University of Illinois at Chicago shows qualitative evidence regarding the role of beta-carotene present in the Rosaceae botanical group (apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, and strawberries) in providing protection against lung cancer.
- Improve vision – Nectarines contain lutein. This, according to Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 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.
- Prevent Hypokalemia – 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.
- Boost Immunity – 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.
- Skin Care – 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.
- Cellular Health – 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 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.
Adding nectarines to your diet
Nectarines are juicy fruits which can be consumed raw or may be used to accentuate the flavor and health factor of various dishes such as yogurts, pies, jams, smoothies, shakes, cakes, etc.
Nectarines are in season from early April to late June and can be consumed anytime of the day but the best time is in the morning. One should avoid eating eat right before going to bed.
- 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 the 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.
Recipe for Curried nectarine chutney
Total: 100 mins, Prep: 30 mins, Cook: 70 mins, Yield: 3 Cups (24 servings)
2/3 cup vinegar (white)
4 cups nectarines (peeled, pitted, and chopped)
3/4 cup onion (red, finely chopped)
1 medium jalapeño (finely minced)
1 clove garlic (finely minced)
2 teaspoons ginger (fresh, finely minced)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin (ground)
1 pinch cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher or pickling salt)
3/4 cup sugar (packed light brown)
1/2 cup raisins (golden)
1 lime (juiced)
1 tablespoon cilantro (fresh, finely chopped)
Pour vinegar into a large stainless steel saucepan or enamel-lined pan. Chop nectarines and add to the vinegar, along with chopped red onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper, salt, and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes. Add the raisins and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 15 to 30 minutes longer, or until very thick.
Meanwhile, prepare the work area, canner, jars, and lids.
Add the lime juice and cilantro to the chutney mixture and continue simmering for 2 minutes.
Fill the hot jars and remove air bubbles as needed, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars and fit with lids and bands. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the cover and let the jars stand in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool for 24 hours. Check for seals and refrigerate any jars which did not seal properly. Store sealed jars in a cool dark place.
Recipe for Nectarine Pavlovas
Active Time – 40 MIN, Total Time -2 HR 30 MIN, Serves : 6
4 large egg whites, at room temperature, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar , 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar, 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, 1 chamomile tea bag, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed 3 large nectarines, very thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 250° and line 2 medium baking sheets with parchment paper. Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the superfine sugar and beat at high speed until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. In a small bowl, whisk the sifted confectioners’ sugar with the remaining 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the sugar mixture into the meringue in 3 additions.
Spoon 3 rounded 1/2-cup mounds of meringue onto each baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, form the meringue into 4-inch rounds with a well in the center. Place the meringues in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 200°. Bake for 2 hours, or until crisp on the outside but still a bit chewy in the center; rotate the sheets halfway through baking. Let cool completely.
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk just until small bubbles appear around the edge. Add the tea bag, cover and let steep off the heat for 10 minutes, pressing the tea bag occasionally. Discard the tea bag.
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg with the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Transfer the mixture to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking vigorously, until very thick, smooth and shiny, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the cubed butter until incorporated. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until chilled.
Gently spread the pastry cream into the center of the meringues and arrange the nectarine slices on top in concentric circles, forming rosettes. Serve the Pavlovas right away.
The pastry cream can be refrigerated for 2 days.
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