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A-Z FRUIT CELEBRATION – by Dr Marli Botha

“N” is for Nectarine!

Suppose you have a craving for homemade peach salsa. You have the tomatoes and onions you need to make it, but no peaches. You do, however, have nectarines. If you substitute the nectarines or apricots for the peaches, would it make much of a difference? Aren't they basically the same fruit?

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The Difference Between Peaches and Nectarines

The main physical difference is that peaches have a fuzzy coating, whereas nectarines are smooth and do not have this coating. They are almost identical genetically, but there is a gene variant between the two.

Peaches have a dominant allele (a variant form of a gene), which results in the soft, fuzzy coating on the outside. They can be freestone, which means the pit falls easily away from the flesh, or clingstone, where the pits stay stuck to the flesh. Peaches can come in yellow or white varieties.

Nectarines, however, express a recessive gene that results in no fuzz growth on the outside and smooth skin. They tend to be smaller, firmer, and more aromatic than peaches, but they can also be more susceptible to diseases. Like peaches, they can be freestone or clingstone, and they also come in white and yellow varieties.

Because peaches and nectarines are so closely related, they are easily interchangeable in recipes.

Surprising Benefits of Nectarines

  • Nectarine is a luscious nutrient-dense and low-calorie fruit. It has only 44 calories per 100gm. It offers an impressive array of powerful antioxidants and phenolic compounds along with dietary fibre.
  • Vitamin wealth of nectarines includes vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.
  • Nectarines are excellent sources of potassium and other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium, without any harmful cholesterol.
  • Presence of dietary fibre and the alkaline nature of nectarine make it perfect for maintaining digestive health. The fibre content present in nectarine absorbs water, adds bulk to the diet, regulates bowel movements, and prevents problems like gastritis, constipation, and ulcers.
  • Nectarines contain lutein, an important nutrient which encourages eye health and helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.