6 Delicious and Healthy Stone Fruits
By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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).
Peaches are excellent sources of carotenoids, which are plant pigments that may offer protection against heart disease, AMD, diabetes, and certain cancers.
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.
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.
Plums are highly nutritious and can be eaten fresh or in their dried form as prunes.
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.
Apricots are packed with nutrients and may benefit your health by providing antioxidants and improving digestion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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