Health Benefits of Peach
Health benefits of peach fruit include relief from hypokalemia, cancer, obesity, cholesterol, blood stasis and neurodegenerative diseases. It helps in maintaining healthy vision, skin care, nervous system, healthy bones and teeth. It has anti-ageing properties and also helps in detoxification and improving digestion and cellular health. It has a wealth of essential nutrients and antioxidants which are valuable in pregnancy and helps in strengthening the immune system.
Peach – The longevity fruit
Peach is a juicy and versatile summer fruit native of China and South Asia. Latin name Prunus persica, peach is a product of a deciduous tree and grows in temperate regions across the world. Peach belongs to the family of Rosaceae which also entails fruits like plum and cherry.
China is the largest producer of peaches and it is auspiciously revered as a Chinese symbol of longevity and immortality. Other top contributors in the peach production are Italy, Spain, United States and Greece. In fact, Georgia is also known as the “Peach state” for its contribution in producing the best-quality peaches with respect to flavor, texture and nutrition content. Peach got the rank of the state fruit of Georgia in 1995. Peaches are available in many different sizes, color ranging from yellow to red depending on the country of origin.
Unlike nectarines which have a smooth outer surface, peaches have a fuzzy, velvety skin. It has a delicate aroma and juicy, yellowish pulp. Peach is a drupe or a stone fruit because its outer fleshy part surrounds a shell enclosing a seed which is edible. Bases the grip of the flesh being free or rigid on the seed, peaches are classified into clinging-stone variety in which pulp clings tightly to the pit, semi-free stone in which the flesh separates out with little effort and free-stone variety in which the pulp separates easily from the pit.
Peach: Nutritional facts
Peach stores a broad range of nutrients vital for the healthy functioning of the body. Peaches are a rich provider of vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). They are also a source of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin K (phylloquinone), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B-6, folate and pantothenic acid. Peaches also offer a rich treasure of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, zinc and copper. Peaches are low in calories, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol and are a good source of dietary fiber as well.
Health benefits of peach
Besides its refreshing taste and aroma, peaches are rich in carotenoids and offer a variety of health benefits.
Antioxidant Capacity: The peels and pulp of peaches possess significant antioxidant properties. The presence of chlorogenic acid in the peach fruit also contributes to such protective effect. Antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-crytoxanthin help in scavenging the oxygen-derived free radicals and protect the body against the harmful effects of various diseases.
Hypokalemia: Peaches contain potassium which is vital for the proper nerve signaling and cellular functioning of the body. Potassium content in peaches also helps in metabolic processes, utilizing carbohydrates, maintaining the electrolyte balance and regulation of muscular tissues. Lack of potassium in the body can lead to hypokalemia which can affect muscular strength and can cause irregular heartbeats.
Cancer: Peaches are rich in phenolic and carotenoid compounds which possess anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties and help in fighting various types of cancers such as breast cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer . Studies have supported the fact that chlorogenic acid and neochlorogenic acid present in peaches exert beneficial effects in inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells without affecting the normal cells unlike the cancer treatment with chemotherapy which negatively affects the healthy cells as well. In addition to this, research has shown that botanical group Rosaceae which includes peach is rich in beta-carotene which provides protective effects against lung cancer.
Skin care: Peaches help in maintaining healthy skin owing to the presence of good amount of vitamin C which also provides defense against harmful free radicals and infections. Peaches also exert protective effect on the skin against the ultraviolet radiations. Studies have provided evidence that the antioxidants zeaxanthine and lutein have significant anti-inflammatory effects on the skin damage caused by the UV-B radiations and protect the skin from hyperproliferation of cells. Flavonoids present in peaches have photo protective effects and help in preventing the skin from UV-induced erythema.
Peach fruit is widely used in cosmetic industry in the manufacturing of skin creams and beauty packs. The wealth of flavonoids and essential vitamins and minerals in the peach fruit helps in sloughing off the dead cells, hydrating and revitalizing the skin. The antioxidants promote faster recovery of skin problems such as blemishes and spots.
Eye health: Peaches are rich in beta-carotene which gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyesight and prevents various eye diseases like xerophthalmia and blindness. An investigative research has shown that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthine present in peaches have positive effects associated with the reduced prevalence of nuclear cataract. As suggested by the studies, lutein and zeaxanthine reside in the macular pigment of the eye and helps in protecting the retina from age-related macular degeneration. In addition to this, these components present in peaches guard the retinal tissues from the damaged caused by oxygen-free radicals and the potential injury caused by high-wavelength light.
Pregnancy: Peaches are valuable during pregnancy attributing to the presence of wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C helps in healthy growth of the bones, teeth, skin, muscles and blood vessels of the baby. It also helps in absorption of iron which is extremely crucial during pregnancy. Folate in peaches helps in preventing the neural tube defects like spina bifida. Potassium content in peaches helps in averting the muscle cramps and general fatigue during pregnancy. The presence of fiber aids in healthy digestion and keeps the constipation at bay.
Digestion: Peaches are good for maintaining healthy digestive health attributing to the presence of alkaline content and fiber. Dietary fiber in the peach fruit absorbs water and helps in preventing stomach disorders like constipation, hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, gastritis and irregular bowel movements. It helps in cleansing and eliminating the toxin waste from the intestines and preventing the body from various abdominal disorders including stomach cancer. Due to its laxative properties, peaches also aid in dissolution of kidneys and bladder stones.
Nervous system: The presence of magnesium in the peach fruit helps in preventing the conditions of stress and anxiety in the body and aids in keeping the nervous system calm. Deficiency of magnesium can affect the functioning of central nervous system resulting in hyper excited muscles and increased activity of nerve signals. An investigative research conducted in this regard has suggested that intake of magnesium rich foods along with vitamin B-6 have favorable effects in the treatment of central nervous system hyperexcitability in children. Another Study has suggested that magnesium treatment helps in recovering from the symptoms of major depression. Consumption of peaches is also considered beneficial in Ayurveda therapy for balancing the nervous system.
Obesity: Peaches contains bioactive components that have shown beneficial effects in combating obesity-related disorders. An investigative research has suggested that presence of phenolic compounds in peaches have anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity properties which help in fighting metabolic syndrome which can otherwise lead to serious health concerns.
Immune system: Peaches are rich in ascorbic acid and zinc which aids in normal functioning of the body and maintain a healthy immune system. Zinc and vitamin C exert effectual wound healing and antioxidant properties which help in fighting infections and reduce the prevalence and severity of diseases such as common cold, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. Deficiency of these components can result in oxidative burst and impaired cellular activity.
Low cholesterol levels: Research has shown that phenolic compounds present in the peel and pulp of the clingstone peaches helps in maintaining lower levels of LDL cholesterol and stimulating the good HDL cholesterol. This aid in reducing the risk of developing diseases related to heart and maintains cardiovascular health.
Anti-Ageing: Peach is a source of zinc which has anti-ageing properties. Consumption of zinc-rich foods such as peach promotes the production of antibodies and inhibits the cellular damage caused by free-radicals. It also interferes with the aging process of male reproductive organs by boosting the levels of reproductive hormone testosterone in the body.
Healthy bones and teeth: Peach contains phosphorous which along with calcium helps in strengthening of bones and teeth and helps in the maintenance and repair of body tissues. It also aids in the prevention of various bone diseases like decalcification leading to osteoporosis particularly in post-menopausal women. Consumption of foods rich in phosphorus such as peaches promotes remineralization of bones and maintains their rigidity. Along with calcium, vitamin C content in peaches also plays an important role in strengthening of jaw bones and gums which helps in keeping the teeth intact.
Detoxification: Peaches are beneficial in cleansing and detoxification of the body and assist in flushing out harmful toxins from the liver and kidney. An investigative study has proven that peach extracts possess hepato-protectant activity and are valuable in treating the condition of hepato-toxicity caused as a result of prolonged therapy for various diseases like migraine, tuberculosis, diabetes etc. Peach is widely used in the eastern culture in the manufacturing of herbal detoxification products such as detox teas.
Blood stasis: Inner kernel of peach fruit has been suggested to be beneficial in treating the condition of blood stasis in which the blood becomes inactive. Blood stasis may arise as a consequence of long-term deficiency of blood resulting in dryness of blood and may also happen because of childbirth, abdominal injuries and surgeries.
Cellular health: Peach contains iron which is vital for the formation of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Consumption of foods such as peaches is important during all the stages of life including childhood, adolescence, adulthood and phases such as menstruation and pregnancy.
Neurodegenerative disorders: Studies have proven that peach extract exert beneficial effects on the central cholinergic system. Cholinergic system is a neurotransmitter system which is the backbone of memory and learning function. Components present in peach fruit avert the cholinergic system from degenerating and prevents various disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Culinary usage: Due to the abundance of health promoting compounds, delicious flavor and low calories, peaches are often added as an ingredient in various healthful recipes such as yogurts, shakes and cakes.
Other uses of peach tree
Apart from the peach fruit, other parts of peach tree also provide a range of health benefits.
Peach leaf: The leaves of peach are beneficial for the treatment of coughs, bronchitis and abdominal disorders. They possess detoxifying, laxative and diuretic properties and are also effective in treating abdominal worms and healing of wounds. It is also used in the manufacturing of green colored dyes.
Peach kernels: Peach seeds are effective in the treatment of menstrual disorders such as dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea and other conditions including blood stasis, elderly asthma, cough. They are also beneficial in the treatment of acute appendicitis and dyspnea or shortness of breath and promote healthy blood circulation.
Peach bark: The dried bark of peach tree is beneficial in the treatment of jaundice and dropsy.
Peach - Word of caution
Allergic reactions: Peach may cause food allergies attributing to the presence of a certain allergens. Production and storage of dried peaches may involve the usage of sulfite as a preservative which can lead to allergic reactions including worsened symptoms of asthma, urticaria, bronchial-constrictions and anaphylaxis.
Peach seeds: Excess usage of peach seeds may be avoided as that may have toxic effects due to presence of cyanide compound in traces. It is always advisable to consult a medical professional in case of any usage of medicinal products made from seeds of peach.
Peaches also help in maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure and cardiac health. Along with the fresh and processed products, canned peaches can also be considered to obtain its goodness. Addition of peach in your diet can enrich you with multidimensional benefits with a lucrative bonus of no harmful calories.
Enjoy peach-y radiance in the lifestyle!