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NutritionResearch conducted at Texas A&M University earlier this year has revealed that stone fruits (including apricots, peaches, plums and prunes that have a stone-like seed at their centre) are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and essential minerals which prevent micronutrient deficiencies and can give health a boost.

These fruit contain bio-active compounds with anti-inflammatory properties; these prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol), which often leads to cardiovascular disease. The fruit provide a substantial amount of the required daily intake of potassium and magnesium, which can help you keep chronic ailments – such as blood pressure and hypertension – at bay. 

Packing a nutritional punch, make the most of these stone fruit while they are in season: 

Apricots are a rich source of vitamin A, with high beta carotene content that strengthens blood vessels, promotes cell regeneration and prevents cataracts, while vitamin C boosts immunity against degenerative diseases. If you are looking for delicious yet low-fat fruit, incorporate six to seven fibre-rich apricots in your diet for healthy weight loss.

Peaches, with their fuzzy, velvet-like skin are loaded with vitamin C as well as an anti-oxidising compound that increases collagen production, giving your skin a healthy glow, while selenium helps combat skin cancer-causing free radicals. You can also use peach skin – dried, crushed and mixed with a few drops of milk – as a natural and effective sunblock. If applied regularly, this mixture is believed to reduce wrinkles.  

Prunes (dried plums) are an ideal snack when you are craving a sweet fix. High in carbs and fibre, regular consumption of prunes can relieve gastrointestinal distress, although be careful not to have more than five a day, because their acidic content can damage your stomach lining. Like apricots, the vitamin A in prunes boosts optic health, while the presence of soluble fibres delays the absorption of sugar in the body, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity and regulating glucose levels.

– Saba Gul Hasan

The writer is a nutritionist and a wellness coach.

First published in the Health Advertiser of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 14, 2014.

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