Weekly Column_120 / August 16, 2012

Summer Fruits: Nectarines and Plums

By Charles Platkin, PhD


Why: They are sweet, don’t raise blood sugar levels, are very low in calories — and they’re in season. “Nectarines, like peaches, most likely originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. They were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries and were introduced to America by the Spanish. Today, California grows more than 95 percent of the nectarines produced in the United States,” according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Fruits & Veggies ­More Matters.

Health Perks: One nectarine delivers 13 percent of the vitamin C you need and 2.4 grams of fiber. It has 9 percent of the needed vitamin A (471 IU), 5 percent of vitamin E (1.1 mg), 4 percent of vitamin K (3.1 mcg), 8 percent of potassium (287 mg) and 8 percent of niacin (1.6 mg). And nectarines have a low glycemic load.

Nutrition: Serving size: one medium (2 1/2″ diameter): 62 calories; 0 g fat; 15 g carbohydrates; 2 g dietary fiber; 11 g sugars; 2 g protein.

Selection and Storage: According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Fruits & Veggies ­More Matters: “Ripe fruit are fragrant and give, slightly, to the touch. If they are under-ripe, leave them at room temperature for two to three days to ripen. Look for fruit with smooth, unblemished skin. Avoid extremely hard or dull colored fruits and soft fruit with soft, wrinkled, punctured skin. Nectarines keep for five days if stored in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator.”

Recipe: Cracked Wheat Salad with Nectarines, Parsley and Pistachios

Healthy Recipe by MyRecipes.com

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)


1 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced nectarines (about 3)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Combine bulgur and 1 cup boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Stir in nectarines and remaining ingredients except nuts; toss well. Sprinkle with nuts.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
Calories: 188
Fat: 9 g
Saturated fat: 1.2 g
Monounsaturated fat: 5.9 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4 g
Protein: 4.2 g
Carbohydrates: 24.7 g
Fiber: 5.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Iron: 1.2 mg
Sodium: 307 mg
Calcium: 29 mg


Why: Plums are sweet, juicy, very low in calories and packed with important vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as fiber, all of which help you stay healthy, balanced and energized.

Health Perks: One plum delivers 10 percent of your daily needs for vitamin C (6.3 mg), 5 percent of vitamin A (228 IU) and 5 percent of vitamin K (4.2 mcg). Plums are also high in antioxidants, which help neutralize the damaging effects of oxidation that are believed to play a role in the aging process and the development of cancer, heart and lung disease and cataracts. Plums contain large amounts of phenolic compounds, largely as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, which stimulate bowel movement and delay sugar absorption. Additionally, these compounds inhibit human LDL oxidation (bad fat), and may help prevent heart disease and cancer. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that these compounds may also specifically help prevent breast cancer.

Nutrition: Serving size: one medium (2 1/8″ diameter): 30 calories; 0 g fat; 8 g carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 7 g sugars; 0 g protein.

Selection and Storage: According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Fruits & Veggies ­ More Matters: “Plums should be plump and well colored for their variety. Plums are usually about 3-6 cm in size. If a fruit yields to gentle pressure, it is ready to eat, however, you can buy plums that are fairly firm, but not rock hard and let them soften at home. They will not increase in sweetness. Ripe plums will be slightly soft at the stem and tip, but watch out for shriveled skin, mushy spots or breaks in the skin. To soften hard plums, place several in a loosely closed paper bag and leave them at room temperature for a day or two; when softened, transfer them to the refrigerator. Ripe plums can be refrigerated for up to three days.”

Recipe: Sugar-Roasted Plums with Balsamic and Rosemary Syrup

Healthy Recipe by MyRecipes.com

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 plums and about 2 tablespoons syrup)


1/2 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
10 black peppercorns
1 vanilla bean, split
12 small unpeeled plums (about 3 1/2 pounds)
8 fresh rosemary sprigs, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine water, vinegar, 4 tablespoons sugar and peppercorns, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to vinegar mixture. Place plums in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pour vinegar mixture over plums. Nestle 2 rosemary sprigs around plums into vinegar mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until plums are tender (skin will begin to split on some plums).
Remove plums with a slotted spoon to a serving platter. Strain vinegar mixture into a small nonaluminum saucepan; discard solids. Bring vinegar mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Pour syrup evenly over plums; garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
Calories: 141
Calories from fat: 6%
Fat: 1 g
Saturated fat: 0.0 g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5 g
Protein: 1.1 g
Carbohydrates: 34.6 g
Fiber: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Iron: 0.2 mg
Sodium: 5 mg
Calcium: 6 mg

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