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Nectarines Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Nectarines?

Nectarines are similar to plums or peaches, but they are orange or orange-red in colour when ripe and have a smooth firm skin. They are slightly larger than plums, and about the same size as mature peaches. One medium-sized nectarine contains 62 calories and is a good source of a number of minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.

This novel fruit is appreciated worldwide for its juicy, fragrant aroma, and unique taste. It thought to have originated in China and from where spread to Central Asia and Persia to Europe through ancient silk route.

Health Benefits of Nectarines

Aids digestion: Presence of dietary fiber and alkaline nature of nectarine makes it perfect for maintaining digestive as well as overall health. Fiber content present in nectarine absorbs water, adds bulk to the diet, regulates the bowel movements and prevents problems like gastritis, constipation and ulcers. It also helps in preventing the binding of toxins to the colon walls and promotes detoxification by eliminating the toxins out of the body.

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 overall health of the mother and the baby. 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 in the proper growth and development of the muscles, teeth and blood vessels of the growing baby. So, next time you feel hungry just grab a nectarine and feel enriched.

Prevention of hypokalemia: Nectarines contains potassium which is essential for proper nerve and cellular function. Potassium present in stone fruits such as nectarine helps in proteins synthesis, functioning of the muscles, maintain electrolyte balance, and optimally utilize carbohydrates and supports metabolic processes. Deficit of potassium in the body may lead to disorders like hypokalemia which may degrade the muscular health and may cause cardiac arrthymia.

Eye care: Nectarines contains lutein, an important nutrient which encourages eye health and helps reduce the risk of disease like age-related macular degeneration. Various investigative researches have shown that lutein is also an extremely powerful antioxidant which also helps in reducing the risk of nuclear cataract. Lutein dwells in the macular pigment of the eye and assists in protecting the retinal tissues from the damage caused by oxidative stress and high-wavelength light. In addition to this, beta-carotene present in the fruit encourages the synthesis of vitamin A and contributes in maintaining healthy eyesight and prevents diseases like blindness and xeropthalmia.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 cholesterol, prevents hardening of arteries and encourages proper circulation of human platelets. Flavonoids found in nectarines may help in preventing rise in the aggregation of platelets and reduce the risk of development of atherosclerosis.

Antioxidant defense: Nectarines have a wonderful antioxidant power with a good amount of polyphenols, vitamin C content and carotenoids such as beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin. The skin of the nectarine fruit has a higher concentration of such components as compared to the pulp so, just wash the fruit properly and eat unpeeled. These protective antioxidants exert free radical scavenging activities and assist in neutralizing the damaging effects of oxygen free molecules.Relief from obesity problems: Nectarines may prove useful in condition of obesity and its associated complications. Research studies have shown that stone fruits such as nectarines contains bioactive compounds such as anthocyanins, catechin, chlorogenic acid and quercitin derivatives which have the potential to combat obesity related medical conditions like diabetes and cardiac disorders. The anti-obesity and anti-diabetic qualities may work against the metabolic syndrome and decrease the oxidation of bad cholesterol which is implicated in obesity related heart diseases.

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Uses of Nectarines

Juicy nectarines have delicious flavor and sweet cream-yellow or white flesh. Choose only fresh ripe fruits to eat; unripe ones are quite tart, and hence, off-flavored. The fruit can be consumed raw along with its skin as in apples. One can also cut the fruit into two halves and separate the pit (seed) using a knife.

Nectarine generally relished as it is, without any seasonings/additions.

The fruit can be used to make jams, jelly, and mixed fruit desserts.
Its slices can be added to fruit salads and desserts.
It can also be used in preparing pie, crumble, soup, tart, cheesecake

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Nutritional value of Nectarines

Nectarines are a luscious nutrient-dense and low calorie fruit which brings a variety of healthy components to our diet. It offers an impressive array of powerful antioxidants and phenolic compounds along with dietary fiber. Vitamin wealth of nectarines include vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone). Nectarines are excellent sources of potassium and other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium and calcium without any harmful cholesterol.