Peach – Nectarines: Health Benefits and Nutritional Values

The juice of nectarines is known as the drink of Gods. The nectarines were named so as it resembles name of the Greek God Nekter and it is believed as the divine drink without any impurity. Beyond the exaggeration the nectarine contains all vital ingredients or nutrients that are essential for health. A myth regarding the nectarines are that they are the cross species of peach and plum. Nectarines have the similarities of peach in various properties and in fact it was originated as the genetic variant of peach. There are more than 150 varieties of nectarines in the world and rarely peaches grow on nectarine trees and nectarine grows on peach trees. Currently the term peaches and nectarines interchangeably used. Though they belong to the same species commercial classification is distinguishes peaches and nectarine where peaches have white centers and nectarines have orange centers.  Nectarines are classified in the class of drupes or stone fruit. Though it widely used in European countries historical evidences show that peaches originated in the China in 2000 BCE. It was brought to Persia from China and reached Greece during 300 BC. The fruit was introduced to Europe by Alexander the Great.

It is classified in the genus prunus in the family of Rosaceae of cherry and plums. During ancient period it was considered as the royal fruits that were used by the elite class in the society.

The nectarine is classified as deciduous tree that grows to 4-10 meter height. The matured fruit has the stone or seed in oval shaped and red brown color. The nectarine seed or pits contain amygdalin that produces cyanide in the stomach that affects the digestion. The excess content of seeds is harmful to the health. The white fleshed fruit with low acidity is popular in China, Japan and Asian regions. The yellow fleshed fruit slightly acidic are popular in Europe and North America. They grow in the high altitude tropical regions as they will grow only in the chilling climatic conditions. Currently China ranks the first in nectarine production. There are several studies conducted regarding the nutritional benefits of this fruit.

The nectarine juice is an excellent source of low calories that enables to loose the body weight and prevents obesity. It is also used in various culinary purposes. The rich sweet taste and juiciness makes it a sure ingredient in ice creams, deserts, jams, jellies and smoothies. The canned nectarine juice is produced commercially for several cuisines.

 Nectarine has high nutrient content enriches with all essential vitamins and minerals. It has the energy content of 39 calories from an average fruit. It contains high dietary fiber, sugars and carbohydrates and low fat and protein. The vitamin content includes vitamin A, beta carotene, thiamine or vitamin B1, Riboflavin or vitamin B2, Niacin or B3, pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and folate or vitamin B9, choline, vitamin C, E, K. It is enriched with minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, Zinc and chloride. Nectarine contains less vitamin C than peaches and has double quantity of vitamin A than peaches.

There are numerous health benefits of nectarine that prevent various ailments from minor infections to grave diseases. The flesh of the nectarine is enriched with antioxidants particularly with carotenoids prevents the cancer. The antioxidants prevent the cell that occurs during the body process of burning carbo hydrates, fats and protein. The pectin that is a high soluble fiber content in nectarine controls the blood cholesterol level. The dietary fiber strengthens the intestinal walls and improves the digestion process. The toxin contents are eliminated and thus prevent the constipation, diarrhea and other intestinal or digestive tract ailments. The vitamin E content improves the skin complexion and it is a good skin cleanser. The cleansing properties make the nectarine a stable ingredient in many skin care and cosmetic products.  In addition to the health benefits during medieval period pictures nectarines were drawn in many paintings and mentioned in many literary works.  The regular intake of this fruit promotes good health and stamina.