The sweet and sometimes tangy nectarine derives its name from the Greek god Nektar. The nectarine’s beautiful orange-yellow peel is overflowing with bioflavonoids and carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage, warding off cancer and other diseases. Nectarines have small amounts of individual amino acids, which when eaten with other amino acids, combine to form complete proteins in the body. Nectarines also make excellent sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin, and potassium.
A close relative of peaches, nectarines belong to the same species, Prunus persica. The smooth skin produced by nectarines is due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches contain a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. Typically smaller than peaches, nectarines also tend toward deeper red hues, since their color is not diluted by fuzz. Nectarines first appeared in the historical record in the 1600s, though they almost certainly occured earlier, most likely as bud sports of peach trees.