Possible 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.
Peaches are a characteristically fuzzy fruit native to northwest China. They are a member of the stone fruit family, meaning that they have one large middle seed, along with cherries, apricots, plums and nectarines.
The inner flesh of a peach can range in color from white to yellow or orange. There are two different varieties of peaches: freestone and clingstone, which refer to whether the flesh sticks to the inner seed or easily comes apart.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of the fruit and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, along with some ideas for incorporating more peaches into your diet.
According to a study from Texas A&M, stone fruit like peaches, plums and nectarines have been shown to ward off obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, Texas A&M associate professor and AgriLife Research food scientist, states that their studies have shown that stone fruits have bioactive and phenolic compounds with anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties that may also reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) associated with cardiovascular disease. He attributes the benefits to four major phenolic groups in stone fruits: anthocyanins, chlorogenic acids, quercetins and catechins, all of which work together and complement each other to fight off obesity-related illness.
As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C, peaches can also help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. While an adequate vitamin C intake is necessary and very beneficial as an antioxidant, the amount necessary to consume for treatment purposes for cancer is thought to be beyond oral intake.2
High fiber intakes from all fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
The antioxidant vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form (in whole foods such as peaches) or applied topically, can reduce wrinkles, improve overall skin texture and help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, the support system of your skin.
Another study from Texas A&M showed that peaches and plum extracts were effective in killing even the most aggressive types of breast cancer cells and did not harm normal healthy cells in the process.
Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium peach provides about 2 grams of fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.
The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in peaches all support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Mark Houston, M.D., M.S., an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St. Thomas Hospital in Tennessee.3
In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).3
A higher intake of fruits (3 or more servings per day) has been shown to decrease risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
It is important to note that the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including peaches, are infinite. As plant food consumption goes up, the risk of all lifestyle related diseases (such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease) goes down. High fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, lower weight and lower risk of mortality.