The Health Benefits of Peaches Are Truly Peachy Keen

You'll want to stock up on the fruit immediately after reading these peach benefits.

wicker bowl filled with peaches
Photo: ULTRA.F/Getty

With their sunset-like blend of red and orange hues as well as their tantalizingly sweet scent, peaches are sure to catch your attention while you’re scoping out the farmers’ market, just like a soulmate you're destined to meet.

But their perks aren’t just skin deep. “When you cut into a good peach, it’s like cutting into an avocado,” says registered dietitian Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N. “There's nothing like that perfect peach,” she adds. Bite into the ripe fruit and you'll be met with a juicy, soft, melt-in-your-mouth taste and texture — not to mention a ton of good-for-you nutrients.

Here, all the peach nutrition info you need, from the health benefits of peaches that come with every single bite to the delicious and creative ways you can nosh on them.

What are Peaches?

Peaches have been around far longer than the peach emoji — more than 3,000 years longer, to be exact. The stone fruit was first cultivated in China in prehistoric times, and they were spread from there to Europe and modern-day Iran before Spanish missionaries snatched them up and brought them to other countries.

More than 100 peach varieties are grown in the U.S. and the flesh of the fruit can be yellow, white, or (sometimes) red. That said, most found in the U.S. have yellow flesh that's sweet but balanced with a bit of acidity. White peaches, on the other hand, have low acidity, taste nearly as sweet as honey, and lack the quintessential tang of the yellow variety.

Aside from their color and taste, peaches also vary when it comes to the pit, aka the stone. When the peach’s flesh is stuck to the stone, it’s called a clingstone peach. This peach variety is mostly used in the commercial canning industry, and the pits are mechanically removed. On the flip side, peaches that have flesh that is not attached to the stone is called a freestone peach. The pit in these peaches can easily be removed with a gentle twist, which is why most peaches you’ll find for at-home munching are this type.

Peach Nutrition Facts

When you need a light and filling snack that's also packed with beneficial nutrients, turn to a ripe peach. How many calories does a peach have? A medium fruit comes in at just 59 calories — half the amount found in a medium banana, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (Although eating fruit of any kind is good for you, and calories should be considered with nuance.)

Here are the rest of the nutrition facts for a medium yellow peach, according to the USDA:

  • 59 calories
  • 1 gram protein
  • 0 grams fat
  • 14 grams carbohydrate
  • 2 grams fiber
  • 13 grams sugar

Plus, you’ll get plenty of nutrients with every bite, which leads to...

Health Benefits of Peaches

As if the delicious flavor wasn't enough reason to snack on peaches, these benefits of eating the stone fruit show it's a nutritional powerhouse.

Quick and Easy Source of Fiber

You don’t need to force down a huge bowl of flavorless bran cereal to get your daily dose of fiber. By eating one medium peach, you’ll take in 2.25 grams of the macronutrient and be one step closer to meeting your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fiber, which the USDA notes is about 28 grams per day. Of those few grams, about 60 percent is insoluble fiber (the kind that adds bulk to stool and helps food pass faster through the stomach), while the remainder is soluble fiber (the type that slows digestion), according to an article in the journal Nutrients.

Not only does fiber help with satiety and make you feel full faster, but it can also help regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, says Gans. So how does it work? Fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels, while insoluble fiber can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Plus, fiber may help prevent high cholesterol by managing high levels of LDL (“bad") cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (“good") cholesterol levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And if those health benefits of peaches aren’t convincing enough, know that fiber can also help prevent constipation, says Gans. So if you’re spending so much time on the porcelain throne that you run out of posts to look at on Instagram, consider munching on a peach.

Serve Up Some Vitamin C

Sorry, oranges, you aren't the only fruit in the grove that's rich in vitamin C. Peaches contain nearly 10 milligrams of the vitamin, or about 13 percent of the RDA, according to the USDA. While you can’t hit your daily quota by wolfing down a single peach, you can still reap some of the vitamin’s health perks, including its antioxidant effects. “What’s so wonderful about antioxidants is their ability to fight free radicals in your body, and by doing that, they may also help boost your immune system,” says Gans. (P.S. Strawberries also have a ton of vitamin C.)

If you’re curious about the science of it all, here’s the scoop: When free radicals are produced in excess — such as by exposure to tobacco smoke, pollution, or radiation — and cells aren’t destroying them quickly enough, a phenomenon called oxidative stress occurs. During this process, cell membranes, proteins, lipids, and DNA can be altered in harmful ways, potentially leading to chronic and degenerative diseases (think: cardiovascular disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others). To counteract these attacks, antioxidants such as vitamin C swoop in to stabilize the free radicals and block the damage it creates, according to an article in the International Journal of Biomedical Science.

But that’s not the only way the antioxidant found in peaches can keep you illness-free: Vitamin C stimulates the production and improves the function of white blood cells, including the specific cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses, according to research.

Plus, this health benefit of peaches could make your skin look as plump and smooth as the fruit itself. Vitamin C plays a key role in helping your body produce collagen — a protein that’s essential to keeping your skin smooth, firm, and strong, explains Gans. The nutrient helps stabilize the collagen molecule structure, stimulates messenger RNA molecules, and tells the skin's fibroblasts (the cells in your connective tissue) to create collagen, according to an article in the journal Nutrients.

Can Help Manage Blood Pressure

One medium peach packs in 6 percent of the RDA for potassium, according to the USDA, which means peaches can aid in regulating blood pressure, says Gans. High sodium intake is linked with high blood pressure, meaning the heart pumps more blood and the arteries are narrower than normal. And when you combine that sodium intake with low potassium consumption, you may have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC.

So how does it all work? When you consume potassium, your blood vessels widen and you excrete more sodium through urine — a process that reduces the force of blood against the arteries and the size of plasma (which carries salt, water, and enzymes) in the blood, ultimately lowering blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health. While you won’t be consuming as much of the heart-healthy nutrient with a peach as you would by noshing on a banana — which has three times the amount of potassium — every little bit counts.

Contribute to Healthy Vision

One of the biggest health benefits of peaches? The stone fruit’s impact on eye health. Each medium peach contains 24 micrograms of vitamin A — a nutrient that can help improve your vision, in certain cases. “If you’re not deficient in vitamin A, and you eat a lot of foods with vitamin A, your vision is not going to get better,” says Gans. “But if you’re deficient in vitamin A and that is affecting your vision, which it may possibly do, eating vitamin A foods can improve your vision," she explains.

Although peaches offer just 3 percent of the RDA, they also contain 243 micrograms of beta carotene, a type of carotenoid that's found in plant-based foods and can turn into an active form of vitamin A, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Do a little math wizardry (one microgram of vitamin A equates to 12 micrograms of beta-carotene from food), and that comes out to an extra 20.25 micrograms of vitamin A.

Rounding out the eye health benefits of peaches is the fruit’s lutein content. This carotenoid can’t be converted into vitamin A, but it’s naturally found in the central area of your eye’s retina, where it absorbs blue light and prevents it from reaching the underlying structures involved in vision. Plus, lutein can help protect the eye from light-induced free radical damage that may lead to age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes a loss of central vision, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Some studies have found a specific link between the carotenoid and the disease: Higher intakes of lutein are associated with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, according to the University.

Potential Risks of Peaches

It's possible to have an allergy to peaches, which will present itself with mild to severe symptoms including hives, GI issues, nasal congestion — and, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis. Your reaction to the stone fruit can vary over time, meaning it can get better or worse.

If you have an allergy to birch tree pollen, you might have a reaction to stone fruits in general when you eat them raw. The proteins in stone fruits are similar to those in the (seemingly unrelated) pollen, and can trigger symptoms of oral allergy syndrome, such as a scratchy throat or hives in the throat; itchy mouth or ears, or swollen lips, mouth, tongue, or throat.

How to Buy and Eat Peaches

Per the University of Georgia Extension (located in the so-called Peach State), you should be on the hunt for fruits with firm, fuzzy skins, and handle them with care since they're easily bruised. When your peaches ripen, you'll want to eat them quickly, within a couple of days — wait too long and they'll overripen.

The peaches you find in the supermarket will feel a little different from the ones you pick up from a roadside stand or farmers’ market. For starters, ones at commercial grocery stores are often mechanically brushed after harvest to remove that signature peach fuzz, while peaches from the small grower down the road are typically picked from the tree and delivered straight to the consumer.

If the peaches available to you aren’t up to your standards (or the farmers' market is closed for the season), don’t be afraid to use frozen slices or canned peaches, which are just as nutritious when packaged in their natural juices, says Gans.

As for how to eat them, you can never go wrong with slicing them up to eat raw. Otherwise, try these options suggested by Gans.

In your salad. A perfectly refreshing summer salad topped with peaches will never disappoint your taste buds. You can also pop sliced peaches on the grill for a slightly charred, caramelized flavor.

As a salsa base. If you've never had peach salsa, you'll want to get acquainted. Here's your call to whip up a homemade version of the sweet yet tangy dip.

In frozen bevs. Turning fresh or frozen peaches into a creamy peach smoothie or boozy drink is sure to satisfy. "You can definitely make a peach daiquiri or peach margarita — add the extra salt, please," says Gans.

As a dessert. Peaches are delicious when mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese, FYI. And for something more indulging, peaches and cream are always a good idea.

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