One of my favourite things growing up was seasonal summer fruits. Having some fruits available only at certain times of the year made them so special, and because we were eating them in their natural growing season they were fresh, sweet and delicious. These days traditionally Southern-state grown fruits are now being grown in the Northern Territory and Queensland thereby extending their seasons.
So what’s the hottest choice of summer fruits – stone fruits top the list with berries, grapes and watermelons not far behind.
Stone fruits also known as drupes – a fruit where the outer flesh surrounds a pit or stone – and includes peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, mangoes and cherries. Avocados, lychees and prunes are also stone fruits.
A recent study conducted by Texas AgriLife Research in the US found that peaches, plums and nectarines have bio-active compounds that can potentially fight off obesity-related diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Other stone fruits also have particular health benefits:
- Tart cherries are said to have anti-inflammatory benefits that can ease joint pain and have components linked to prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Peaches have phytochemicals that are beneficial in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts and night blindness.
- Along with peaches, nectarines are one of the fruits that Spanish researchers discovered had up to five times more antioxidants than previously thought, with the extra and previously ‘hidden’ antioxidants only being unlocked during the digestion process. One medium nectarine provides both 40 per cent of your daily vitamin C and 14 per cent of niacin, or vitamin-B3, needs.
- Apricots can help protect the heart and eyes, have a high iron content and helps aid digestion.
- Plums are a good source of vitamin C which builds healthy tissue and a healthy immune system.
- The avocado is one fruit that may help prevent oral cancer. That’s according to US research that found extracts taken from Hass avocados are capable of killing some oral cancer cells and preventing pre-cancerous ones from forming.
- Lychees are a fruit which have proven their value in the fight against breast cancer cells. Japanese researchers have discovered that lychee extract may also help to reduce the abdominal, or visceral fat that’s linked to an increased risk of many diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
- Mango polyphenols – or antioxidants – can fight breast cancer cells, according to a US study. It’s another health benefit to add to the list, with Queensland researchers having already found how mangoes may offer protection against diabetes and cholesterol. One medium mango also provides 84 per cent of your daily vitamin A and 120 per cent of your vitamin C requirements.
- US research has found that, thanks to their antioxidant content, prunes – which are dried plums – may help to build stronger bones. And if you want to snack on something that will curb your appetite, prunes are considered to be a good choice. They not only provide a ‘feeling of fullness’, but also have a positive effect on the fat content of the blood as well as helping regulate bowel movements.
While stone fruits are showing some great health benefits the best reason to eat them is simply that they are super delicious.
What’s ‘not hot’ in summer are often fruits imported from overseas. Imported produce means that some traditionally seasonal fruits are now available throughout the whole year – but they’re just not the same. They may look good but lack the flavor of home grown seasonal fruits. Traditional winter fruits, even if they’re grown here, can also lack flavor if they have been kept in storage for too long.
My advice: Make summer fruits something really special. Treat them as seasonal fruits and enjoy them while they are at their peak.