Picking Perfect Fruit: Peaches and Nectarines

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Here’s a handy guide to selecting the perfect peaches and nectarines, along with a look at their health impact and nutrient profile…

Nutrient Profiles:

In terms of genes, peaches and nectarines are practically identical. The only variant is that peaches have a dominant allele which gives them their fuzzy skin, while nectarines feature a recessive gene that gives them a smooth exterior. Both are great for your health!

A single large peach or nectarine contains 19% of the vitamin C you need in a day. That amount is also known as a daily value, which is abbreviated to DV. That same large peach or nectarine also has 11% DV vitamin A, 10% DV fiber, 10% DV potassium, and 7% DV niachin— all in a single 68-calorie serving!

Peaches, Nectarines, and Your Health:

According to a peach study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, “Fresh peach pulps and Peel demonstrated high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects preventing against induced damage.” Further, the study “Intake of specific fruits and vegetables in relation to risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women” concludes that “higher intake of berries and peaches was associated with lower risk of […] breast cancer among post-menopausal women.”

Choosing Your Fruit:

Peaches and nectarines that have been ripened on the tree will have bright hues of yellow, orange and red on their skins. If they are light in color, they will be light on flavor.

Ripe peaches and nectarines have a fragrance, but don’t choose your fruit based on smell alone. To test for ripeness, give a little squeeze between the shoulder (where the fruit attached to the tree) and the tip. If it has some give, it’s ripe; if it’s firm, it is not yet ripe and may ripen on the counter for a few days more. Peaches and nectarines should have some weight to them. If their skin is wrinkled, or wrinkles when you give a squeeze, then chances are good that you are holding a fruit past its prime. Once the fruit is past ripeness, the water from the juice begins to evaporate, leaving behind a dry and mealy peach or nectarine. When you find ripe peaches and nectarines, eat them within a day or two, or store them in the refrigerator to get a few more days of enjoyment.

When possible, buy local summer fruit; local fruit spends less time traveling and tends to last longer in your home.  Wherever you buy your fruit, make sure to store it in the fridge so it lasts as long as it can.

By Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN

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