Summer’s Nectar: Stone Fruit

Peaches, Cherries, & Plums Are Packed with Flavor and Nutrition
By Rebecca Taggart

fresh peaches

The sweet smell of peaches at farmer’s markets heralds the official arrival of summer.   Stone fruit season is here! Nothing captures the golden light of summer like the varied hues of apricots and nectarines and nothing expresses summer’s voluptuousness like plums and cherries. Rich and delicious, stone fruit also packs a nutritional punch: it’s full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.

Stone fruit can refer to all fruits with a hard pit in the center, including apricots, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and plums. Nectarines are actually the same species as peaches, but with smooth rather than furry skin due to a naturally occurring recessive gene. Almonds are also part of the genus prunus in this closely-related family, and differ only in that the seed rather than the flesh of the fruit is eaten.

Dare to Eat a Peach?

Nutritionally, peaches and nectarines are similar. Like all stone fruit, they are low in calories and fat, but high in vitamins A and C as well as fiber. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fresh peaches for heart health, in part due to their levels of beta carotene (an antioxidant precursor of vitamin A), which helps prevent atherosclerosis, and their fiber content, which lowers cholesterol.

cherries

Stone fruit are generally high in phytochemicals and antioxidants, with yellow- and red-fleshed varieties exhibiting higher levels than white-fleshed varieties, according to a 2004 study by researchers at Texas A&M University.   Antioxidants reduce levels of free radicals in the body resulting from oxidation reactions. These free radicals cause oxidative stress, which appears to be an important cause and consequence of many human diseases, and one of the possible mechanisms of aging.

Life Is Better With a Bowl of Cherries

Need more inducement to bite into a luscious, ripe red cherry? Cherry anthocyanins, a class of phytochemical red pigments, have been shown in preliminary research to both prevent genetic mutations that could lead to cancer and reduce cancer cell growth. Sweet (i.e. eating) cherries offer nearly three times as many anthocyanins as tart (i.e. cooking) cherries, with two-thirds found in the skin. As cherries ripen, they produce more antioxidants, so select the darkest red cherries for the most benefits.   In addition, one cup of sweet cherries packs the potassium of a small banana and also boasts some quercetin, the red-wine antioxidant that appears to keep blood vessels healthy

Plums also have high concentrations of antioxidants and increase our body’s ability to absorb iron.

Succulent peaches and nectarines, juicy plums, lip-smacking apricots, and delightfully red cherries are as healthy as they are irresistible. The only downside:   These fragile fruits have a limited growing season and local varieties won’t be around forever, so grab a bowlful while you can. No time to eat them all? Pit and halve stone fruit, then freeze on a baking sheet and seal in a freezer bag to use later for baking and smoothies.

Want some ideas for using stone fruits right now? Try these FruitGuys recipes:

Easy Peach Ice Cream
This luscious creamy frozen dessert requires no ice cream machine

Nectarine and Plum Galette
This free-form pastry showcases the beauty of stone fruit

Curried Quinoa and Stone Fruit Salad
An ancient grain paired with voluptuous summer stone fruit make for a salad packed with nutrition and flavor

Rebecca Taggart is a San Francisco writer, teacher, and yoga instructor.

 

Share this post

Magazine Search

Recent Food articles:

Operating instructions for America's favorite fruit
January 27, 2015
Chocolate from bean to bar
January 26, 2015
Dishes to warm you up and maybe even ward off the common cold
January 6, 2015
Fruit is a colorful and sweet addition to your holiday table
December 2, 2014
Adventures of a self-taught home cook
October 29, 2014
Fruit Can Surprise even The FruitGuys
October 24, 2014
Delicious figs bring summer’s sweetness to fall
September 24, 2014
Fruit can nourish a face, scour a sink, even shine your shoes
June 20, 2014
There’s always time for breakfast—if you eat it at the office
May 13, 2014
Timeline of our favorite berry
March 25, 2014

More recent articles:

2014 GoodWorks annual report
January 27, 2015
January 27, 2015
It’s not so lonely at the top for entrepreneurial couples in business together
January 26, 2015
Don’t let the season derail your exercise
January 26, 2015
Bringing mindfulness to the modern office
January 26, 2015
Orange you glad you threw a citrus-tasting party?
January 6, 2015
Resolve to adopt these workplace habits for office success in 2015
January 6, 2015
How to craft an exercise plan that actually works
January 6, 2015

Sign up for the monthly newsletter

 

About Us

The FruitGuys Magazine is your source for workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. Previously known as The FruitGuys Almanac, the Magazine began in 2007. Editors and contributors include nationally known journalists and food writers. Submissions and suggestions can be sent to the editor.