When it comes to summer fruits, the big three rule: plums, peaches and the distant cousin of the latter, nectarines. Nectarines should be sweeter than peaches and this only makes sense considering that nectarines derive their name from the Greek god Nekter. Ambrosia was the food of the gods, remember, but did you know that necter was the drink of the gods? A nectarine is often thought of as being a peach without the beard and it’s most useful aspect is that it contains antioxidants. When you eat a nectarine your body converts these antioxidants into vitamin A and your body can use just about all of that vitamin it can get. Not only are nectarines rich in antioxidants, but they are easy on the diet. A normal-sized nectarine will add only 50 calories to your diet, but at the time give you roughly 20% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. In addition to vitamin A, nectarines also contain potassium. Besides all that healthy stuff, nectarines just simply taste great.
But let’s visit the healthy part of eating nectarines a bit more. That beautifully orange-yellow peel of the nectarine is overflowing with bioflavonoids; it is especially rich in carotenoids. Bioflavonoids are antioxidants found in plant pigment that help your body fight off cancer as well as other diseases. It accomplishes this by fighting against the damaged done to the body’s cells that naturally takes place as a result of the process of the body burning up oxygen. As if that weren’t enough, nectarines also provide protein. What that means in real terms is that if you are prone to constipation one of the best things you can is eat a nectarine or two a day during season. A nectarine a day keeps a fruitless visit to the toilet away.
Most people prefer to simply bite into a nectarine, but many peach eaters prefer nectarines because it saves them the trouble of peeling the skin. Despite the fact that a nectarine peeled doesn’t have quite the same “eat me” look that an unpeeled nectarine has, there are no real disadvantages to digging ye olde potato peeler from the bottom of the drawer. When the nectarine’s skin is peeled a chemical reaction takes place in which an enzyme found in the fruit causes it to darken. This reaction doesn’t actually cause the nectarine to be any more healthy, but neither does it taste any differently, despite the browning of the fruit. If you just have to peel the skin, but don’t find the dark color particular appetizing, try dropping it into a mixture of vinegar and water.
One final note that may or may not apply to most. Although very few people are prone to eating the pits of peaches, plums and nectarines, it is not uncommon to accidentally ingest bits or even to have a tendency to simply chew on them. The pit of a nectarine is besmirched with the presence of amygdalin, which converts to cyanide after it is eaten. There is no danger in the accidental swallowing of one nectarine pit or even a habit of chewing on one or two, but eating more than that could actually result in cyanide poisoning.