Nectarines are one of my favorite juice and smoothie recipe ingredients with sweetness and tons of nutrition.
Before I share my favorite recipe, let's briefly look at some fascinating history and amazing benefits!
A Little History
The nectarine shares the genus Prunus with such fruits as the apricot, peach, plum and cherries, as well as almonds.
Many mistake the nectarine as a hybrid of the peach and plum, but in fact, it grows naturally on the peach tree as a 'genetic migration!' Nectarine trees have been established by simply planting their seeds.
It is thought the nectarine originated in China, where it is mention for thousands of years. It spread to Persia, or modern day Iran where it was first written about as early as 300 BC, and the Roman Empire along the Silk Road. In the early first century Pliny the Elder, the naturalist and natural philosopher, mentioned the nectarine in his writings.
The nectarine was introduced to Mexico in the 15th century by the Spanish seafarers, where it flourished. It was depicted and popularized in paintings in Europe in the 16th century and by the 1630’s had made its way to Great Britain.
By the early 1700’s nectarines were growing in Virginia. In 1768 they are mentioned in the New York Gazette as growing in Long Island, New York. They were well established in California long before the 1900’s where today 95% of nectarines in the US are grown.
Amazing Nutritional Benefits
Nectarines are low in calories, high in energy, have no cholesterol and provide a rich source of fiber.
They offer a myriad of vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients.
Vitamins abundant in nectarines include A, E, C and K, as well as B-complex compounds. They offer high amounts of the minerals copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc, and even provide a healthy dose of protein.
Beta carotene, crypto-xanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein act as powerful antioxidants, as do vitamins A, C and E. These all assist in scavenging free radicals from our bodies and delaying the aging process, as well as lowering the possibility for the development of certain cancers such as oral and lung cancer.
These antioxidants also reduce inflammation and protect us from sickness and disease. Zeaxanthin and lutein protect our eyes from the damage of sunlight and may reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Nectarines contain a healthy dose of B-complex vitamins which help improve memory and concentration, assist in healthy digestive action, boost energy, improve our nervous system, maintain healthy hair, skin and nails, and ensure a healthy pregnancy.
So next time you juice or make a smoothie, consider including the amazing nectarine, not only for its wonderful flavor, but also for all the nutrition it has to offer!
- I add a few greens to every one of my juices and smoothies, because they are amazingly nutritious! Wheatgrass is my favorite green because it's the most nutrient rich.
- Note that there are no added sweeteners even in this smoothie recipe. This is because the recipe is delicious without added sugar, and also because I'm concerned about our over-consumption of sugar which many doctors now believe is more of a factor in obesity than any other! For details click here.