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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Nectarines

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


he onset of summer is the perfect

time to bite into the sweet, aroma-

tic, and juicy nectarine. The refreshing fruit is naturally in season now and throughout the hot summer months.

The history of the nectarine is unclear but it probably originated in China over 4,000 years ago. Serving as a symbol of long life in Ancient times, the nectarine was popular throughout the centuries. It is a naturally occurring peach varietal and was cultivated for thousands of years in Ancient Persia, Greece, and Rome. It appears that nectarines were grown in Great Britain in the 16th or 17th century and then brought to the United States by the Spaniards. Today, California grows about 95% of the nectarines produced here in the U.S.

Nectarines resemble peaches in appearance and color except for their skin texture. Unlike the rough, fuzzy outer skin of the peach, a nectarine boasts a shiny, smooth surface due to a gene mutation. Full of flavor and flavonoids, nectarines are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and potassium, an important mineral that aids in fluid regulation, and is associated with lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of stroke, and increased bone health. Like carrots, they are rich in beta carotene, an antioxidant vitamin that is converted into Vitamin A in the body and is responsible for the fruit’s yellow-orange hue. Beta carotene helps prevent damage from free radicals and builds healthy eyesight. The high level of antioxidants found in nectarines may also help promote healthy cell growth, reduce inflammation, and prevent certain cancers.

When selecting nectarines, opt for those that are smooth and soft to the touch. Avoid those with blemishes or bruises. They should emit a sweet, delicate aroma and give a bit when gently pressed. To ripen nectarines, store at room temperature for two to three days. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. However, only refrigerate ripened nectarines because they will not ripen any further. Nectarines make delicious jams, butters, cobblers and pies. They are truly a versatile fruit and can be used in any recipe as a replacement for peaches. Try them sliced on top of your morning breakfast cereal or oatmeal, mixed into a refreshing fruit smoothie, or baked into your favorite whole grain muffins. For a quick and easy anytime snack simply enjoy nectarines as is in their natural state or tossed with a handful of almonds, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a douse of cream.

Nectarine-Banana

Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients:

½ cup unsweetened almond

or soy milk

¼ cup drained silken tofu

½ small frozen banana

½ cup fresh nectarines

1 tablespoon flaxseeds, ground

½ teaspoon cinnamon

ice (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski is a freelance wellness writer who specializes in the science of happiness and how it affects our health and relationships. She is also a certified health coach who works with clients on nourishing their bodies and souls by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. Suzann holds a BA in Communications, a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from U. of PA. and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Visit www.suzannpileggi.com , or email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com  for a discounted phone consultation.


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