Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
The natural antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help keep your body working at its best, so consuming a diet that meets your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to give your body a strong defense against disease. Fruits and vegetables are protective to health as they’re helpful at reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers. They’re also low in calories, which helps prevent obesity … a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Eating fruit each day -- 1.5 cups for women and 2 cups for men, as recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, benefits your health. Let’s take peaches for example.
Nutritional breakdown of peaches
One raw medium peach (147 grams) has 50 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol and sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. It provides 6% of your daily vitamin A needs and 15% of daily vitamin C needs. One medium peach also contains 2% or more daily value of vitamins E and K, niacin, folate, iron, choline, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper.
Health Benefits of Peaches
Peaches are low in calories (100 g just provide 39 calories), and contain no saturated fats. Nonetheless, they are packed with numerous health promoting compounds, minerals, and vitamins. Fresh peaches are a moderate source of antioxidants and vitamin C which is required for the building of connective tissue inside the human body. Consumption of foods that are rich in vitamin C helps a person develop resistance against infections and helps to eliminate harmful free radicals that cause certain cancers.
Fresh fruits are a moderate source of vitamin-A and beta-Carotene. Beta-Carotene is a pro-vitamin, which converts into vitamin A inside the body. Vitamin A is essential for prevention of night vision issues and for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and healthy skin. Consumption of fruits like peaches that are rich in vitamin A, are known to offer protection from lung and oral cancers. They contain many vital minerals such as potassium, fluoride and iron.
Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Fluoride is a component of bones and teeth and is essential for prevention of dental caries. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
So, make sure you are taking small steps to eat sufficient fruit each day. Peaches are now in season across much of the United States are healthy and contain health promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants including lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin. These compounds help to act as protective scavengers against free radicals and play a role in promoting healthy aging and reduction of various disease processes.
Get some peach recipes from New Jersey's best chefs & the New Jersey Peach Festival Association