Peaches are small fruit with a fuzzy peel and a sweet white or yellow flesh. They are thought to have originated in China more than 8,000 years ago and are related to plums, apricots, cherries, and almonds. Peaches are not only delicious but also nutritious and may offer an array of health benefits, including improved digestion, smoother skin, and allergy relief. Here are some of the health benefits and uses of peaches, as well as some possible side effects and precautions.
Nutrition facts of peaches:
Peaches are rich in many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. One medium-sized peach (5.4 ounces or 150 grams) provides approximately:
- Calories: 58
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 14 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 17% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin A: 10% of the DV
- Potassium: 8% of the DV
- Niacin: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 5% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 5% of the DV
- Copper: 5% of the DV
- Manganese: 5% of the DV
Peaches also offer smaller amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and some B vitamins. In addition, they’re packed with antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds that combat oxidative damage and help protect your body against aging and disease. The fresher and riper the fruit, the more antioxidants it contains.
Health Benefits of Peaches:
Peaches for healthy digestion and weight loss:
Peaches may contribute to healthy digestion. One medium-sized fruit provides about 2 grams of fiber — half of which is soluble fiber, while the other half is insoluble. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps move food through your gut, reducing the likelihood of constipation. On the other hand, soluble fiber provides food for beneficial bacteria in your intestines. In turn, these bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which feed the cells of your gut. Short-chain fatty acids in your gut may also help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis.
Peaches benefits Immune System:
Peaches support immunity in three ways. An average peach (about 5 ounces) contains 6 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 7% of the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for men and 8% for women. Several types of immune cells need vitamin C for their production, function, and protection. Peaches also contain vitamin A, which plays a role in keeping your lungs and other organs healthy. The third way peaches support immunity is by way of their natural antimicrobial properties, which means certain components in peaches help fight off bacteria and other bugs that can make us sick.
Peaches are rich in Antioxidants:
Peaches contain antioxidants such as polyphenols and carotenoids. Antioxidants are known to combat oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to counter their harmful effects. That’s key for brain health, as oxidative stress is known to be a causative factor in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Peaches Prevent certain type of cancers:
Peaches contain polyphenols and carotenoids, which are plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Polyphenols and carotenoids may modulate the expression of genes involved in cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis. They may also inhibit the activity of enzymes that activate carcinogens or promote tumor growth.
Peaches are a source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent the formation of free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage cells and cause cancer. Vitamin C may also help protect against some types of cancer by limiting the growth and spread of cancerous cells.
Health Peaches of peaches for brain health:
Neurodegenerative diseases are disorders that affect the structure and function of the brain and nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These diseases are characterized by progressive loss of neurons, inflammation, oxidative stress, and impaired cognition and movement. Peaches may help protect against neurodegenerative diseases by providing antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and nutrients that support brain health. Peaches are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and polyphenols, such as ellagic acid and anthocyanins. These substances can scavenge free radicals, modulate gene expression, regulate signaling pathways, and prevent neuronal damage and death.
Peaches help regulate blood sugar levels:
Peaches contain polyphenols, such as ellagic acid, that have anti-diabetic effects. Polyphenols may stimulate insulin secretion, lower blood glucose levels, prevent glucose intolerance, and protect against obesity-related metabolic disorders. Peaches also have a low glycemic index of 28, which means they do not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar after eating. However, peaches should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet that includes other fruits and vegetables.
Peaches benefits for skin health:
Peaches have beta carotene and vitamin C, both of which, have been shown to support healthy skin. Beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, helps protect skin from sun damage. Additionally, vitamin C is needed to build collagen and improve skin elasticity. Further, increasing water intake has been shown to have a positive effect on skin hydration. Because a fresh peach contains about 88 grams of water, peaches may also be hydrating for your skin (and body as a whole).
Health benefits of Peaches for Eyes:
The lutein and zeaxanthin in peaches help protect the retina and lens. These two carotenoids have been shown to reduce the risk of two common eye disorders—macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin A in peaches also helps support healthy vision. While rare, a true deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, which can damage normal vision and result in night blindness (the inability to see in the dark or low light).
Benefits of Peaches for heart health:
Peaches are a heart-friendly fruit that can help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and stroke. Peaches contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants that can benefit your heart in several ways. Fiber can help lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and preventing their reabsorption. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure by balancing the effects of sodium and relaxing the blood vessels. Vitamin C can help prevent oxidative damage to the blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants, such as polyphenols and carotenoids, can help modulate gene expression, inhibit enzymes that activate carcinogens or promote tumor growth, and improve blood flow to the heart.
Side Effects and Precautions of Eating Peaches:
Peaches are generally safe and well tolerated by most people. However, some people may experience allergic reactions or other adverse effects from eating peaches or products made from them. Some of the possible side effects and precautions of eating peaches are:
Peaches belong to the Rosaceae family, which also includes apples, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, and strawberries. Some people may be allergic to these fruits or their cross-reactive allergens, such as birch pollen or latex. Symptoms of a peach allergy may include itching, swelling, hives, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). If you have a known allergy to peaches or any other fruit in the Rosaceae family, avoid eating them or products made from them. If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating peaches, seek medical attention immediately.
Peaches are among the fruits that may contain high levels of pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Pesticides are chemicals used to protect crops from pests, diseases, and weeds. However, some pesticides may have harmful effects on human health and the environment. For example, some pesticides may disrupt the hormonal system, affect the nervous system, or increase the risk of cancer. To reduce your exposure to pesticide residues, you can choose organic peaches or wash them thoroughly before eating. You can also peel off the skin, but keep in mind that you will lose some of the fiber and antioxidants in the process.
Peaches contain a hard shell that houses an edible seed. This seed contains amygdalin, a compound that can release cyanide — a highly toxic substance — when chewed or crushed. Cyanide can interfere with the ability of cells to use oxygen and cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures, coma, or death. The amount of cyanide in peach seeds is usually too low to cause harm unless you eat a large number of them. However, children and pets may be more susceptible to cyanide poisoning from peach seeds. To prevent cyanide poisoning from peach seeds, avoid eating them or giving them to children or pets. If you accidentally ingest a peach seed and experience any symptoms of cyanide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
How to Eat Peaches
Peaches can be eaten on their own or added to a variety of dishes. They can be eaten fresh or canned, frozen, dried, or juiced. Peaches can also be cooked or baked into pies, cakes, muffins, jams, sauces, or compotes. Some of the ways to eat peaches are:
- Slice them and add them to your yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or salad.
- Blend them with milk or yogurt and other fruits to make a smoothie.
- Make a peach salsa with chopped peaches, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeño pepper. Serve it with tortilla chips or grilled chicken or fish.
- Grill them on skewers with chicken or shrimp and brush them with honey or barbecue sauce.
- Bake them with cinnamon and brown sugar and top them with whipped cream or ice cream.
The Bottom Line
Peaches are a delicious and nutritious fruit that can offer many health benefits. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water. They may help improve digestion, immunity, skin health, eye health, and blood pressure. However, some people may experience allergic reactions or other adverse effects from eating peaches or products made from them. These include pesticide residues and cyanide poisoning from peach seeds. To enjoy peaches safely and healthily,
- Choose fresh and ripe peaches whenever possible.
- Wash them thoroughly before eating.
- Avoid eating peach seeds or giving them to children or pets.
- Eat them on their own or add them to various dishes.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.
Extracts of Apricot ( Prunus armeniaca) and Peach ( Prunus pérsica) Kernels as Feed Additives: Nutrient Digestibility, Growth Performance, and Immunological Status of Growing Rabbits – PubMed (nih.gov)