Stone fruit is one of the most popular types of fruit on the market. Fleshy, tart and sweet, these fruits are versatile, tasty and brimming with important nutrients.
Not only that, but they’re also tied to an impressive list of health benefits, ranging from improved eye health to enhanced immune function.
So is avocado a stone fruit? Is mango a stone fruit?
In this article, we’ll cover a few of the top types of stone fruit, along with some of the many reasons you may want to consider adding them to your diet.
What Is Stone Fruit?
A stone fruit, also known as a drupe, is a type of fruit that contains a large stone (or pit) in the center. These fruits generally belong to the Prunus genus and tend to have a thin skin with soft flesh.
Unlike other fruits, fruits on the stone fruit list stop ripening right after being picked, meaning that the stone fruit season is somewhat narrow. However, different varieties ripen at different times, making it easy to find several types available throughout the year.
Many unique fruits are classified botanically as stone fruits, ranging from familiar favorites like peaches, plums and raspberries to less common varieties, such as green almonds, which are a green stone fruit notable for their fuzzy outer hull.
Like other types of fruit, fruits on the stone fruit list are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and could potentially help enhance bone health, boost weight loss, improve immune function and more.
Top 16 Types/Varieties
There are many different types of stone fruit available, each of which offers its own unique set of nutrients, health benefits and uses. Here are a few of the top stone fruits examples:
- Green Almonds
Stone fruits are delicious, nutritious and bursting with health benefits. Here are a few of the top reasons you should consider squeezing a few servings of stone fruit into your diet.
1. High in Antioxidants
Stone fruits are high-antioxidant foods, which are important compounds that can help fight free radicals to protect against cell damage and disease. In fact, studies show that antioxidants may play a central role in the development of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
According to one study out of Zaragoza, Spain, stone fruits like nectarines are an excellent source of several key antioxidants, including vitamin C, flavonoids and anthocyanins, all of which can reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative stress.
2. Promote Digestive Health
Stone fruits are loaded with fiber, an essential nutrient that is involved in several aspects of health. Fiber moves through the intestinal tract undigested, slowing the emptying of the stomach and adding bulk to the stool to support regularity.
In addition to promoting better blood sugar control, lowering blood pressure and keeping cholesterol levels in check, research shows that upping your intake of fiber may also help protect against several digestive issues, including acid reflux, hemorrhoids, constipation and diverticulitis.
3. Strengthen Bones
Most types of stone fruit are high vitamin K foods, a fat-soluble vitamin that is most well-known for its role in blood clotting. However, vitamin K is also essential for bone health and can help prevent serious issues, like fractures, bone loss and osteoporosis.
Interestingly enough, one study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that low vitamin K intake was associated with decreased bone mineral density in women. Plus, another study showed that supplementing with vitamin K could help protect against fractures in postmenopausal women.
4. Support Immune Function
Adding a few servings of stone fruit to your daily diet is a great way to ensure that you get enough vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C is a water-soluble micronutrient that doubles as an antioxidant, blocking the buildup of harmful free radicals that contribute to disease.
Not only that, but vitamin C is especially important when it comes to immune function. According to one study, getting adequate amounts of vitamin C in your diet could potentially help reduce symptoms and decrease the duration of respiratory infections like the common cold.
What’s more, vitamin C foods may also improve outcomes for other conditions as well, including pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea.
5. Boost Weight Loss
Stone fruits are low in calories yet high in fiber, making them an awesome addition to a well-rounded weight loss diet. Because it moves through the body slowly, increasing your intake of fiber can help keep you feeling full between meals to fight cravings and enhance weight loss.
In fact, one study in Journal of Nutrition even found that eating more fiber was linked to a reduced risk of weight gain and fat gains in women.
Other research suggests that fruit intake may even help support weight management as well. One review out of Korea reported that the anti-obesity effects of fruit may be due to the ability to promote satiety, improve gut health, decrease total caloric intake, and provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
6. Improve Vision
Boasting a wide array of antioxidants and polyphenols, enjoying a few servings of stone fruit each day may help maintain eye vision and protect against disease. In particular, studies show that stone fruit could aid in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that affects nearly 9 percent of the global population and is considered one of the leading causes of blindness among older adults.
One study conducted at Ewha Womans University in Seoul found that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables could protect against macular degeneration, thanks to their content of compounds like vitamin C and beta-carotene. Another study had similar findings, reporting that eating just two servings of fruit per day was linked to a lower risk of macular degeneration.
Although most types of stone fruit can be enjoyed as is for a satisfying and nutritious snack, they can also be incorporated into your favorite recipes for an easy way to ramp up your fruit intake. Here are a few simple recipes to get you going:
- Very Cherry Snack Bites
- Nectarine Salad
- Homemade Blackberry Sorbet
- Raspberry Oatmeal Cookies
- Peach Cobbler
Risks and Side Effects
Although stone fruits can be included in moderation as part of a balanced diet for most healthy adults, some people may need to reduce or moderate their intake.
In particular, those with a stone fruit allergy should avoid these fruits, as they can trigger symptoms like itching, swelling and even anaphylaxis. While fruits that have been cooked, canned or processed are sometimes safe for those with an allergy, it’s best to exercise caution and consult with a trusted health care professional prior to consumption.
Those with an allergy to birch, alder pollen or latex may also experience adverse side effects after eating stone fruit. This is because they contain similar proteins, which can confuse the immune system and trigger an allergic reaction.
If you notice any food allergy symptoms after consuming stone fruit, discontinue use immediately and talk to your doctor.
Finally, keep in mind that some types of fruit may be relatively high in sugar and carbohydrates, including dried fruits like prunes. While these fruits are fine when consumed in moderation, eating large amounts in a short period can increase blood sugar levels, especially for those with diabetes.
Be sure to keep your intake in check and enjoy as part of a well-rounded diet to maximize the potential health benefits.
- What is stone fruit? Stone fruits, also known as drupes, are a type of fleshy, thin-skinned fruit that contain a large seed (or pit) in the center.
- There are a number of familiar favorites on the list of stone fruits, including mangoes, blackberries, raspberries, peaches and plums.
- Also classified as some of the healthiest stone fruit options, less common varieties such as green almonds, apriums and pluots are other stone fruit options.
- In addition to being high in antioxidants, stone fruits may also enhance immune function, promote digestive health, strengthen the bones, improve vision and support weight loss.
- However, some types may be high in sugar and can trigger food allergy symptoms in some people.