- Mar 12, 2018 -
Not many fruits outshine peaches in luscious delectability. Historically rooted in China, the cultivation of peaches spread to the rest of the world fairly early in world history.
Because they contain a single, inedible pit at the center, peaches are considered a "drupe," and share characteristics of other fruits in its class, such as plums, nectarines, and – believe it or not – almonds.
The difference between peaches and nectarines is that peaches have fuzzy skin while the others do not. Either way, the skin is edible and delicious. Nectarines, which are slightly more susceptible to disease, are actually a variety of peach, nota cross between peaches and plums.
Peach trees are relatively small, at 25 feet or so. What makes it one of two varieties - "freestone" or "cling" – depends on whether the seed is firmly "stuck" to the flesh or can be easily removed.
It's possible, depending on where you live, to plant a peach or nectarine and get a tree in about three years, but probably producing fruit slightly different than the one planted. With more than 175 different varieties, California produces more than 50 percent of the peaches in the U.S. – about a quarter of the world's supply.
Health Benefits of Peaches
Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, peaches contain an impressive assortment of vitamins and minerals to make it a truly nutritious food. Other than the 17 percent daily recommended value in vitamin C per serving, all the other nutritive contents are low, but wait until you see how many there are and what they can do.
Like other vitamins, vitamin C does much more than fight infection, although that's a feat in itself. It's also an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals looking for a place to do damage in the cells and body, and is required for connective tissue synthesis. Its oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value is 1814 on the scale. 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.
Vitamin A is another nutrient in peaches, offering B-carotenes that convert to retinol, essential for sharp eyesight. It also protects against lung and mouth cancers, and helps maintain healthy mucus membranes and elasticity in the skin due to its polyunsaturated fatty acid content. The darker the peach’s flesh, the more vitamin A it contains.
Minerals also are in abundance in peaches, such as.potassium, an enzyme component used to digest foods, help regulate the heart rate, and lower blood pressure. Potassium works with sodium to maintain the body's water balance.
The iron in peaches is required for red blood cell formation and to carry oxygen from our lungs and throughout our bodies. Another health benefit of peaches is the flavonoids, such as lycopene and lutein, which work together to help prevent macular degeneration, cancer, and heart disease. Zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin are two more flavonoids, all further protecting against free radicals that prematurely age the body and cause disease.
Other attributes of peaches definitely worth mentioning are vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, and copper, and to a lesser but significant degree, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and phosphorus.
However, consume peaches in moderation because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.