What Are Peaches Good For?

Peach Appeal
Botanical name: Prunus persica

Peach Nutrition Facts

Very few fruits outshine the flavor and delectability of peaches. Historically rooted in China,1 the cultivation of peaches spread to the rest of the world fairly early in history.

Peaches are known as “stone fruits” or a “drupes”, as they contain a single, inedible pit at the center, sharing characteristics with other fruits in its class such as cherries, mangoes and – believe it or not – almonds.2

The difference between peaches and nectarines is that peaches have fuzzy skin while nectarines do not.3 Either way, the skin is edible and delicious. Nectarines, which are slightly more susceptible to diseases like brown rot,4 are actually a variety of peach,5 and not a cross between peaches and plums.

Peach trees are relatively small, at 10 to 15 feet. Dwarf varieties stand at 5 to 7 feet.6 There are two varieties of peach – "freestone" or "clingstone" – with the difference depending on whether the seed is firmly "stuck" to the flesh or can be easily removed.7 With more than 200 different varieties,8 California produces more than 49% of the peaches in the U.S.9

Health Benefits of Peaches

Low in saturated fat and lacking any cholesterol, peaches contain an impressive assortment of vitamins and minerals to make it truly nutritious. Other than the 6.6 milligrams of vitamin C per 100-gram serving,10 all the other nutritive contents are low, but wait until you learn just how many there are and what they can do.

Vitamin C does much more than help fight infection.11 It's also an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals looking to damage the cells in your body.12 It is also required for collagen synthesis and tissue healing.13 Peaches have an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value of 1814, but it's important to know that a can of store-bought peaches in heavy syrup gets an ORAC score of 436 – an indication that for all the antioxidants fresh peaches may have, they're practically obliterated in the canning/sugar-dousing process.14

The beta-carotene in peaches are converted to vitamin A, also known as retinol,15 which is essential for sharp eyesight.16 It also protects against lung17 and mouth18 cancers, and helps maintain healthy mucous membranes19 and elasticity in the skin due to its polyunsaturated fatty acid content.20 The darker the peach’s flesh, the more vitamin A it contains.21

Peaches also contain an abundance of minerals, such as potassium, an enzyme component used to digest foods, help regulate the heart rate22 and lower blood pressure.23 The iron in peaches is required for red blood cell formation and to carry oxygen from our lungs and throughout our bodies.24 Another health benefit of peaches is the flavonoids, such as zeaxanthin and lutein,25 which work together to help prevent macular degeneration, cancer and heart disease.26 Cryptoxanthin is another flavonoid, which has antioxidant abilities to help reduce the risk of cancers and degenerative diseases.27

Other attributes of peaches definitely worth mentioning are vitamin E, vitamin K and niacin, and to a lesser but significant degree, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.28 It’s best to consume peaches in moderation, as they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.

It’s also advised to purchase organic peaches. For more information on other high-pesticide fruits and vegetables, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list.29

Peaches Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 39  
Calories from Fat 2  
Total Fat 0.25 g  
Saturated Fat 0.019 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 0 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 9.54 g  
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g 6%
Sugar 8.39 g  
Protein 0.91 g  
Vitamin A 326 IU Vitamin C 6.6 mg
Calcium 6 mg Iron 0.25 mg

Studies on Peaches

A study was conducted to evaluate the cancer-inhibiting ability of peach extracts (the Rich Lady variety, as well as plum extracts) and to identify the natural chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic compounds they contain. Scientists found that phenolic acids, procyanidins, anthocyanins and the flavonoid quercetin in peach extracts effectively inhibit (to varying degrees) the proliferation of certain breast cancer cell lines.30

Bioactive compounds in peaches, plums and nectarines were found to help inhibit obesity-related diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to other research. Studies showed that the anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives and catechins from these fruits – working in combination with and by themselves – also have the ability to reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol, obesity and the inflammation that comes from metabolic syndrome.31

Peach Healthy Recipes:
Tomato Peach Salad with Basil

Peach Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, plus small leaves, for garnish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 ripe but firm yellow peaches, cut into wedges

4 tomatoes, preferably a mix of large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Procedures:

  1. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the basil to the boiling water and cook until just wilted and bright green (about 15 seconds). Transfer with a slotted spoon to a blender and puree until smooth. With the machine running, add the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Spread the basil puree on a serving platter. Arrange the peaches and tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Garnish with whole basil leaves and serve.

This recipe makes six to eight servings.
(From FoodNetwork.com32)

Peaches Fun Facts

Peaches have been on a worldwide journey throughout the ages. Native to China, they were believed to have been cultivated there since 1,000 B.C., as an ancient Chinese book of poems and songs described peach trees in bloom.33 Through the ancient Silk Road, the fruits were carried for cultivation in Europe.34 The Romans and Greeks called them “Persian apples” after the country that introduced them.35

Spaniards introduced peaches to South America,36 and the French were responsible for introducing them to Louisiana. Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages, followed by colonists who took them from England to grow in their new American home.37

Summary

Packed with flavor and nutritional value, peaches are one of the best-loved fruits. They're versatile, delicious and among a handful of plant-based foods that travel tolerably, making them a great lunchbox treat. Beyond their juicy goodness, peaches contain vitamins and minerals that keep the body at optimum health: vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, B-carotenes, and the flavonoids lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin.

With several other nutrients, peaches provide many health benefits, such as free radical scavenging, improved eyesight, protection against infection, lowered blood pressure, a healthy heart rate, and even lowered incidences of cancer and heart disease. So eat a peach — it’s good for you!



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