By Alan Clanton
The peach is one of those fruits which is a win-win when it comes to diet and health. The peach is known for its sweetness, and it makes a great side dish with lunch or dinner, especially in the warmest months. Or, it can become an instant dessert, served with a bit of vanilla ice cream, or in a cobbler or pie, or just as is, chilled and sliced.
But the peach is often overlooked when it comes to its health benefits. The peach, like the banana, is loaded with potassium—so much that it ranks near the top of the heap of fruits and vegetables recommended for high natural potassium levels. A single medium-to-large peach can contain up to 310 grams of potassium.
Peaches—which originated in China, not South Georgia—are also extremely high in beta carotene, an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of certain cancers, as well as improved digestive functions, eye health and urinary tract health. The peach is also loaded with Vitamins A and C, both of which are important for the body’s immune system, especially when it comes to warding off routine problems like colds and flus.
According to the Clemson University website, even with all their built-in, natural sweetness, peaches are relatively low in calories—about 35 calories for a medium-sized peach. And they are a good source of soluble fiber, a fact that the Chinese knew over a thousand years ago when the peach was a preferred source of digestive and colon health.
Perhaps even more than the always-popular banana, the peach is great for slicing and dicing for an instant enhancement to breakfast, lunch or supper. Diced peaches can be added to oatmeal, cold cereal, pancakes, waffles, toast, yogurt or grits, just to name several popular breakfast items for Americans. Peaches can also serve as a garnishment for ice cream, frozen yogurt cottage cheese, or on any salad to add color and flavor.
Peaches are also great grilled or cooked, but most studies indicate that the peach loses some of its nutritional value when steamed, baked or boiled.
For North Americans, legend and tradition holds that peaches grown in certain parts of the Deep South—especially central Alabama, south Georgia and parts of South Carolina—are the best when the criteria is flavor. But in reality, all peaches retain their nutritional value, which makes the peach a sweet way to improve your diet.
About the Author: Alan Clanton is the editor of Thursday Review, an online magazine of politics, movies, music, books, social issues, art, food, opinion, media and journalism, and more.
Now that we understanding how versatile and nutritious peaches are, be sure to visit our Recipe Index for our Fresh Peach and Blueberry Skillet Cobbler, Peach Lemonade and other delicious recipes.
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