Health and Nutrition of Peaches: Vitamins, Phytonutrients and Yummy Desserts!

Who doesn’t like a chilled, juicy peach on a hot summer’s day? It’s one of the foremost pleasures of life, and something that everyone should experience on as regular a basis as possible. (Even if the fur of the peach skin does set your teeth on edge – in that case, just get someone else to peel it for you!)

The peach actually is a member of the Rosaceae family, whose other members include the apple, the apricot and the pear, and further, of the Prunus genus. It is grown in many countries and is a stone fruit with succulent white or yellow flesh and dusky orange/pink furry skin. It is almost exactly similar to the nectarine but minus the smooth redder skin.

Peaches!

Public domain image.
Public domain image. | Source

What does the peach have to offer in terms of health and vitamins and minerals? Information from the 'Peaches, raw' entry on the Nutritiondata website suggests that a serving of just one hundred and seventy-five grams can provide three grams of fiber (and that's ten per cent of the daily value,kids!) along with zero grams of fat. Now, I'm sure that anyone who is struggling with constipation or a slimming weight-loss diet will be delighted to hear that! (Especially when you consider that tucking into a juicy peach is a damn sight more palatable than most constipation or weight-loss measures).

The main sugar in peaches is sucrose, and the sugar content is 14.7 grams of the total carbohydrate content of 17.3 grams in a 175 gram portion. A study by Rossato et al[2] has also demonstrated an interesting level of antioxidant potential and activity in the peel of peaches, higher than that of the flesh. And we've all heard all about how great antioxidants are from endless commercials for beauty products and health foods! Dried peaches may also provide useful quantities of fiber and minerals.

But what can you do with a punnet of peaches, other than eat them raw, dripping, whole and delicious? It seems almost a sin to cook or bake such a treat: but still, peach cobbler is a solid, comforting delight in itself, a peach melba is not something one would turn down lightly, and a bellini (which is a cocktail of peach juice and champagne) makes the culinary use of peaches seem almost forgivable.

Just be careful when you're buying peaches. The storage and picking procedures (ethylene? cold storage?) for major supermarket product sourcing seem to mean that it's really, really hard to find a ripe peach when buying from a supermarket. Even if you buy hard peaches and take them home to ripen, I rarely find that the results are satisfactory: you wait and wait, they soften a little on the outside, but they don't sweeten up and remain, well, a bit chewy. One thing a peach should never be is chewy! Make sure your peach is fully ripe and packed with juice – then, enjoy!


References

[1] Rossato, S.B., Haas, C., Raseira, M.C.B., Moreira, J.C.F., Zuanazzi, J.A.S. 'Antioxidant Potential of Peels and Fleshes of Peaches from Different Cultivars'. Journal of Medicinal Food. 12;5: October 2009, pp. 1119-1126

[2] Jongen, W.M.F. 'Fruit and vegetable processing: improving quality.' Cambridge; Woodhead Publishing Ltd. and CRC Press LLC: 2002.

[3] Dris, R., Jain, S.M. 'Production Practices and Quality Assessment of Food Crops: Preharvest practice'. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers; 2004, p.56.

[4] Nutritondata. 'Peaches, raw'. Nutritiondata website. 2009. Available at <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1990/2> Accessed on 18/10/2010.

Just Peachy!

How do you like to eat a peach?

  • Peeled - peach fur is disgusting! It makes my teeth hurt!
  • Furry! Furry peaches are fine!
  • Baked in a cobbler. I'm weird.
See results without voting

peachy quote

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

Dita von Teese.

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