All hail the peach!
It's summertime and festivals around the world are celebrating this fuzzy fruit. No more so than in China — the world's largest producer of peaches — where the fruit is a symbol of longevity and immortality. A relative of the rose and almond, the peach is revered for its luscious flavour but the peach is also worth celebrating for its many health benefits, especially for older adults.
The Health Benefits of Peaches
1. Peaches may prevent cancer
A study of peaches and plums found that the stone fruits' high levels of phenolic compounds killed estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells. Even the most aggressive breast cancer cells couldn't stand up to the peach's antioxidant properties. Meanwhile, normal cells stayed intact.
2. Peaches keep cholesterol in check
Peaches contain very little fat, but that's not the only reason they're good for cholesterol levels. Research shows that antioxidants in the skin and flesh of clingstone peaches prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the bad one), helping to maintain heart and cardiovascular health.
3. Peaches may fend off obesity-related illness
4. Peaches keep you looking young
Peaches are high in vitamin C, with a medium peach containing about 17 per cent of our daily needs. They're also low in carbohydrates. Upping vitamin C intake while lowering carbs can keep wrinkles at bay, prevent dryness and keep skin looking and feeling its best.
5. Peaches are good for our eyes
A medium peach contains about 10 per cent of our vitamin A daily requirement. Vitamin A has been connected to brain, organ and eye health. Even low levels of beta carotene, which is the form vitamin A takes in plants, have been linked to reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and other chronic vision diseases.
Calories in a Peach
Peaches are a low- to no-fuss fruit — simply wash and eat them out of hand. And don't be shy, there are only about 50 to 68 calories in a peach.
How to Ripen Peaches
Opinions differ on how to ripen peaches, from leaving them out on the counter or layering between breathable fabric (like cotton) to storing in a paper bag.
How to Add Peaches to Your Diet
Try adding chopped peaches to yogurt, or toss into a smoothie or shake. Fresh clingstone or freestone peaches make for a perfect pie, melba or cobbler, while surprising combinations come in the form of savoury treats, grilled peach halves topped with tuna salad, chopped peaches with basil for a bruschetta topping, or peach slices with prosciutto on pizza.
Freezing peaches is easy, so you can enjoy them throughout the year. Score a small X on the bottom of the fruit, put in boiling water for 30 seconds and then immerse in cold water. This will loosen the skin for easy peeling before slicing or dicing peaches to freeze. More time-consuming but worth it, canned peaches (for preservation) also make for wonderful winter provisions.
Tiffany Mayer is a journalist and author whose writing focuses on food and agriculture. Her work has appeared in local and national magazines and newspapers. Her first book, Niagara Food: A Flavourful History of the Peninsula's Bounty, was published in 2014.
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