Every year between 1 to 7 September, National Nutrition Week is observed to highlight the importance of nutrition for our body and its related health benefits.
Every year between 1 to 7 September, National Nutrition Week is observed to highlight the importance of nutrition for our body and its related health benefits. The day is also meant to spread awareness on nutritional needs and deficiencies, the importance of good food and a healthy body and mind.
Stone fruits, also known as drupe fruits are fruits that are thin-skinned and distinguished by their pit or stone-like single large seed enclosed in a tough outer shell and found in the fruit's core, with the fleshy outer area surrounding it.
In this article, we will discuss stone fruits and related details. Take a look.
Stone fruits are species of deciduous trees that originate from the temperature zone of the Northern hemisphere. They are cultivated throughout the world. Most of the stone fruits belong to the genus Prunus L. and the family Rosaceae.
Some of the examples of stone fruits include:
Studies say that stone fruits are popular due to their rich flavour and nutritional content. Drupes are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants. Some of these compounds include gallic acid, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, hydroxycinnamic acids and terpenoids.
Other active compounds in stone fruits include organic acids like oxalic acids, malic acids and citric acid, proteins, dietary fibre, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3 and alpha-carotene.
Some of the health benefits of stone fruits include:
Stone fruit seeds are known to naturally contain a compound amygdalin whose measures vary at different stages of the fruit development: stone-hardening, fruit enlargement, and ripening.
It is a cyanogenic glycoside plant toxin that may cause acute intoxication and dysfunction of the central nervous system in humans.
According to a study, the amygdalin content in the fruit is more during the stone hardening and fruit enlargement stage, while decreases or not detected during the ripening periods.
Though amygdalin itself is not poisonous, when ingested by humans, it releases hydrogen cyanide in the gastrointestinal tract, which is toxic for humans in many ways.
A few seeds consumed accidentally may not cause any toxic effects, but when purposely or unknowingly swallowed in excess amounts, they may produce adequate amounts of cyanide in the body which could affect the central nervous system.
According to the National Institute of Health's database on toxic substances, a 150-pound human can safely consume 703 milligrams of hydrogen cyanide a day before occurrence of any side effects.
Heating or roasting the fruit may reduce levels of hydrogen cyanide.
Stone fruits are best when eaten fresh, like many other fruits. The seed is removed before consumption as it could be poisonous when taken in excess amounts.
The stone-like seeds of these fruits are the ones that help support the fruit in the tree while they hang off in the branches and allow the passage of nutrients from the tree to the fruits
Almonds, a type of stone fruit, is actually the fruit's stone that we eat. It is encased inside a teardrop-like shaped green fruit, which is removed when ripped and almonds are plucked out.
Also, many studies say that most of the stone fruits give a slightly almond flavour, which is why they give out their best taste when paired with recipes containing almonds.
A study has shown that when stone fruits are harvested and cold stored, there is an increase in the anthocyanins, flavonoids and total phenolic content of the fruit. However, cold storage is suggested only for ripe fruits when their skin is soft and they give out a sweet aroma.
For unripe fruit, they should be first ripened at room temperature and then stored in the refrigerator as doing it before, may cause wrinkled skin and mealy textured pulp. Also, when refrigerated, stone fruits should be kept loosely covered.
Stone fruits are low in sugar and make for the most vital ingredient for alcoholic fermentation. In India, around 43000 hectares of land is planted with stone fruits like peaches, apricots and plums, with a yearly production of 0.25 million tons.
These fruits are mainly grown for the production of fruit wines which gives orchardists high profit, employment opportunities and good returns.
The juice production from stone fruits is carried by removing their seed and juicing the pulp. Depending on the ripeness of stone fruits, the seed or stone is removed, as if the fruit is raw, they are first heated to soften the pulp followed by seed removal.
For culinary purposes, they pair best with dishes like pancakes, fruit salad, smoothies, baked goods, jelly, sugar syrup, pudding and yoghurt.
Stone fruits have excellent taste, smell and multiple health benefits. Avoid these fruits in your diet, but avoid having their seeds.