Hello SOTGC community,
I love my weekend jaunt to the farmer’s market for my weekly fruits and vegetables. It not only allows me to support local growers, but I can take advantage of the fresh factor and abundance of flavor that comes with buying seasonal items sold locally. During a recent excursion, a beautiful display of stone fruits from a local grower captured my attention. Piles of brightly colored plums, peaches, and nectarines were so alluring, I bought some to celebrate the summer season. In addition to finding creative ways to enjoy the plethora of varieties, I was curious to see what nutritional value they might contribute to my daily intake, so I did a little research.
Plums, peaches, and nectarines have beneficial bioactive compounds that are known to promote good health. The compounds are called “phytonutrients”, and can include carotenoids (orange and yellow pigments), anthocyanins (red pigments), and colorless polyphenols. They are highest in their concentration in the skin of the fruit, so it is best to ingest the fruit whole. I recommend selecting organically grown species to avoid taking in the residue from pesticides, herbicide, and insecticide sprays.
The bioactive antioxidants concentrated in the skin of stone fruits are felt to combat metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions including high sugar levels, increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, excess waistline fat, and inflammation). Metabolic syndrome, if left unaddressed, can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. There is some suggestion that the protective ingredients in stone fruits may also have anti-cancer benefits. If these fruits have anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and cholesterol-lowering properties, then the stone fruits sound like a beneficial fruit to include in the diet regimen.
Despite their sweetness, plums, peaches, and nectarines are low on the glycemic load (good for metabolic syndrome and diabetics), and can serve as a source of fiber (average 2.5 gm/serving) and protein (1-2 gm/serving). Other nutritional facts:
Plums are a good source of Vit A, Vit C and Vit K
Peaches and nectarines are high in Vit A, Vit C, and niacin
We all know of the blueberry as a super fruit because of its high antioxidant health benefits. Interestingly, plums are comparable to the little super fruit blueberry, according to the papers reviewed. In addition, when comparing green tea, red wine, and plums for their antioxidant health benefits, plums had about 43 percent and 33 percent of the total antioxidant capacity of green tea and red wine, respectively.
Based on what I read in these articles, stone fruits sound like they have a tremendous amount to offer in terms of antioxidant health benefits. You’ll know what will be in my fruit basket for the rest of this summer season.
(Information condensed from the 2012 scientific summary by Texas A&M Agrilife Communications, the Annual Research Reports from the California Tree Fruit Agreement 1999, 2009, and 2010, and www.nutritiondata.self.com.)