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6 Delicious and Healthy Stone Fruits

Health + Wellness
6 Delicious and Healthy Stone Fruits
Paul Plews / Cultura / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Aside from being absolutely delicious, cherries, peaches, and plums have another thing in common: they're all stone fruits.


Stone fruits, or drupes, are fruits that have a pit or "stone" at the center of their soft, juicy flesh.

They're highly nutritious and offer an array of health benefits.

Here are 6 delicious and healthy stone fruits.

1. Cherries

Cherries are among the most loved varieties of stone fruit due to their sweet, complex flavor and rich color.

Aside from their delicious taste, cherries offer an array of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds.

One cup (154 grams) of pitted, fresh cherries provides (1):

  • Calories: 97
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 18% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Potassium: 10% of the RDI

Cherries are also a good source of copper, magnesium, manganese, and vitamins B6 and K. Plus, they're packed with powerful antioxidants, including anthocyanins, procyanidins, flavonols, and hydroxycinnamic acids (2Trusted Source).

These antioxidants play many important roles in your body, including protecting your cells from damage caused by molecules called free radicals and reducing inflammatory processes that may increase your risk of certain chronic diseases (3Trusted Source).

One 28-day study in 18 people found that those who ate just under 2 cups (280 grams) of cherries per day had significant reductions in several markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 18 (IL-18), and endothelin-1 (4Trusted Source).

Having high levels of inflammatory markers, such as CRP, has been associated with an increased risk of certain conditions, including heart disease, neurodegenerative illnesses, and type 2 diabetes. Thus, reducing inflammation is important for your health(5Trusted Source).

Other studies indicate that eating cherries may improve sleep, help regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness, high cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and arthritis-related symptoms (6Trusted Source).

Cherries are not only exceptionally healthy but also versatile. They can be enjoyed fresh or cooked in a variety of sweet and savory recipes.

Summary

Cherries are a delicious type of stone fruit that offers an impressive nutrient profile. They're also packed with potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonols.

2. Peaches

Peaches are delicious stone fruits that have been cultivated around the world throughout history, as far back as 6,000 BC (7Trusted Source).

They're prized not only for their delicious taste but also for a host of health benefits.

These sweet stone fruits are low in calories yet high in nutrients. One large (175-gram) peach provides (8):

  • Calories: 68
  • Carbs: 17 grams
  • Protein: 2 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 11% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 10% of the RDI

Peaches are also high in copper, manganese, and vitamins B3 (niacin), E, and K. Additionally, they're loaded with carotenoids, such as beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin (9Trusted Source).

Carotenoids are plant pigments that give peaches their rich color. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may protect against conditions like certain cancers and eye diseases.

For example, research shows that people who eat carotenoid-rich diets are at a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that impairs your vision (10Trusted Source).

Additionally, carotenoid-rich foods like peaches may protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, including of the prostate (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Note that peach peels may contain up to 27 times more antioxidants than the fruit, so make a point of eating the peel for maximum health benefits (14Trusted Source).

Summary

Peaches are excellent sources of carotenoids, which are plant pigments that may offer protection against heart disease, AMD, diabetes, and certain cancers.

3. Plums

Plums are juicy, scrumptious stone fruits that, though small in size, pack an impressive amount of nutrients.

A serving of two 66-gram plums provides (15):

  • Calories: 60
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 20% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI

These jewel-toned fruits are high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, such as proanthocyanidins and kaempferol (16Trusted Source).

Phenolic compounds protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals and may reduce your risk of illnesses, such as neurodegenerative conditions and heart disease (17Trusted Source).

Prunes, which are dried plums, provide concentrated doses of the nutrients found in fresh plums, and many benefit your health in a number of ways.

For example, studies indicate that eating prunes may increase bone mineral density, relieve constipation, and reduce blood pressure (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Fresh plums can be enjoyed on their own or added to dishes like oatmeal, salads, and yogurt. Prunes can be paired with almonds or other nuts and seeds for a fiber- and protein-rich snack.

Summary

Plums are highly nutritious and can be eaten fresh or in their dried form as prunes.

4. Apricots

Apricots are small, orange fruits that are packed with health-promoting nutrients and plant compounds.

One cup (165 grams) of sliced apricots provides (21):

  • Calories: 79
  • Carbs: 19 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 27% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 64% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 12% of the RDI

These sweet fruits are also high in several B vitamins, as well as vitamins E and K.

Fresh and dried apricots are especially rich in beta carotene, a carotenoid that is converted into vitamin A in your body. It has powerful health effects, and apricots are a delicious way to reap the benefits of this potent pigment (22Trusted Source).

Animal studies show that the high concentration of beta carotene and other powerful plant compounds in apricots protects cells against oxidative damage, which is caused by reactive molecules called free radicals (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).

Additionally, apricots may improve the rate at which food moves through your digestive tract, potentially relieving digestive issues like acid reflux.

A study in 1,303 people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) found that those who ate apricots daily experienced improved digestion and significantly fewer GERD symptoms, compared to those who did not (25Trusted Source).

Apricots are delicious on their own or can be added to savory and sweet recipes, such as salads or baked goods.

Summary

Apricots are packed with nutrients and may benefit your health by providing antioxidants and improving digestion.

5. Lychee

Lychee, or litchi, is a type of stone fruit sought after for its distinctive flavor and texture.

The sweet, white flesh of this stone fruit is protected by a pink, inedible skin that gives it a distinctive look.

One cup (190 grams) of fresh lychees provides (26):

  • Calories: 125
  • Carbs: 31 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 226% of the RDI
  • Folate: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 10% of the RDI

Lychees also contain good amounts of riboflavin (B2), phosphorus, potassium, and copper.

These stone fruits are especially high in vitamin C, a nutrient critical for your immune system, skin, and bones (27Trusted Source).

Additionally, lychees provide phenolic compounds, including rutin, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and gallic acid, all of which have powerful antioxidant properties (28Trusted Source).

According to animal studies, these compounds significantly reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, especially related to liver damage.

In a 21-day rat study, treatment with 91 mg per pound (200 mg per kg) of body weight of lychee extract per day significantly reduced liver inflammation, cellular damage, and free radical production, while increasing antioxidant levels like glutathione (29Trusted Source).

Another study found that rats with alcoholic liver disease that received lychee extract for 8 weeks experienced significant reductions in liver oxidative stress and improvements in liver cell function, compared to a control group (30Trusted Source).

Lychee fruits can be peeled and enjoyed raw or added to salads, smoothies, or oatmeal.

Summary

Lychees are nutritious stone fruits that are high in vitamin C and phenolic antioxidants. Animal studies show that they may benefit liver health, in particular.

6. Mangoes

Mangoes are brightly colored, tropical stone fruits enjoyed around the world for their juiciness and sweet taste. Many varieties exist, all of which are highly nutritious.

One mango (207 grams) provides (31):

  • Calories: 173
  • Carbs: 31 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 96% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 32% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI

Aside from the nutrients listed above, mangoes are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and copper.

Like other stone fruits in this article, mangoes are loaded with antioxidants, including anthocyanins, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E (32Trusted Source).

Though its peel is often discarded, studies show that mango skin is highly nutritious and contains fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, such as ellagic acid, kaempferol, and mangiferin (32Trusted Source).

Because mango is a high-fiber fruit, it has been shown to promote healthy digestion.

A study in people with chronic constipation observed that eating about 2 cups (300 grams) of mango daily significantly improved stool frequency and consistency and reduced intestinal inflammatory markers, compared to an equal dose of a fiber supplement (33Trusted Source).

Animal studies also indicate that eating mangoes may protect against bowel diseases, certain cancers, and metabolic syndrome. Still, research in humans is needed to confirm these potential benefits (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).

Mangoes can be enjoyed fresh, in fruit salads and smoothies, atop oatmeal and yogurt, or turned into delicious salsas.

Summary

Mangoes are packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They may improve digestive health and taste fantastic fresh or as part of salads, smoothies, salsas, or various other dishes.

The Bottom Line

Cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, lychees, and mangoes are all stone fruits that offer an abundance of nutrients that can benefit your health in countless ways.

They're not only delicious but also highly versatile and can be enjoyed whole, as on-the-go snacks, or as additions to savory and sweet recipes alike.

Try adding a few of the stone fruits on this list into your diet to improve your overall health, all while satisfying your sweet tooth.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

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