5 top reasons to eat peaches

It’s a time of year so many of us impatiently await: peach season. Is there anything better than enjoying a luscious local peach?  It’s true that  trying to stop the juices from running down your  arm can be a little tough but it’s all part of the wonderful peach experience.

Peaches and their kissin’ cousins, apricots,  nectarines  and plums are all known as stone fruit (as are cherries too).   The list of family members keeps growing as agricultural types come up with new fruits such as peachcots (a cross between a peach and an apricot) and a peacherine (you guessed it – a peach and a nectarine).

While just  the simple pleasure of eating these fruits is enough to make you buy a basket, there are also a bounty of nutritional goodies to reap at the same time.

Here are just five:

•    Peaches offer a host of nutrients
Besides helping you to hydrate at this time of year (in  a large 175-gram peach, there are 155 grams of water), these fruits also supply a variety of vitamins and minerals including a pretty impressive amount of potassium.

Potassium, a mineral we regularly fall short on,  plays a major role in maintaining healthy blood pressure readings. Calorie for calorie, peaches outrank the banana (the fruit everyone knows as a stellar source of potassium). A small banana clocks in at 90 calories while providing 372 milligrams of potassium while an extra large peach has 87 calories with a whopping 426 milligrams of potassium.

•    Peaches have anti-cancer action
Compounds in peaches, known as polyphenols, have been shown to  both inhibit the growth of a certain type of breast cancer tumour   as well as its spread into the lungs.

Other research showed that these compounds induced breast cancer cell death while not affecting normal cells.

•    Peaches inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
Research,  published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, shows that compared to other fruit and vegetables, peaches ranked high on the list in their ability to counter the production of these toxic compounds which are linked to an increased risk of diabetes.

•    Peaches have anti-inflammatory properties
Scientists have found that the various polyphenols in peaches and other stone fruit, besides acting as antioxidants,   may work together to counter inflammation and may protect against disease such as diabetes.

It’s interesting to note that not all peaches are created equal. For example, white-fleshed peaches, while less acidic tasting, have lower phenol counts than more red-fleshed ones.  So if the white are your preferred choice, maybe mix it up a little and include some of the darker-coloured fruits.

•    Stone fruit are linked to protection against bone thinning
Be honest – would you ever think of stone fruit as offering any bone health benefits? Well, accumulating research is now pointing to these fruits as containing phytochemicals that may defend against osteoporosis.

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Are you a peach fan? What’s your favourite way to enjoy them?

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Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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