August Food of the Month: Peaches

Peaches have become a summertime staple in my house.  They are perfect as a snack and can be easily eaten on the go. The best part, one large peach comes in at only 68 calories and 3 grams of filling fiber. They contain many beneficial nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Peaches are rich in vitamins A, C, and E, and important minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

 

Health Benefits:

Eye Health: Peaches contain high amounts of beta-carotene, which is not only responsible for giving this fruit its vibrant orange color, but also essential in maintaining optimal eye health. Consumption of foods rich in beta-carotene can help protect the retina from free radical damage and aged-related macular degeneration.  Vitamin A is necessary for the maintenance of healthy eyes and vision. Peaches provide almost 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

Cancer Protection: Loaded with cancer protecting antioxidants like vitamin C, peaches can help ward off damage caused by free radicals. It is a key component in boosting the immune system and helping the body to fight cancer cells. There have been some proponents who claim vitamin C may play a role in the prevention of some cancers such as breast, lung, prostate, bladder, cervical and esophageal.

Healthy Skin:  Vitamin C is also responsible for maintaining healthy skin and complexion.  Additionally, it is a vital component for collagen production. One medium peach delivers 10% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

Peaches are at their peak flavor during the summer months. When purchasing, look for ones that have a yellow or cream-colored background with blush colored cheeks. Avoid those with blemishes. Mature peaches will be firm and have fuzzy skins that spring back when touched. Peaches will continue to ripen after harvest, so you should store unripe ones on the counter at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. In order to speed up the maturation process, you can place peaches in a brown bag to soften. Once ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

There is a multitude of ways to incorporate these little gems into your day. Sliced peaches are great on top of yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.  You can even get creative and dice them up to use in a sweet salsa.

Peaches are one of those fruits that are so wonderfully delicious that they can satisfy any sweet tooth. Here’s a great recipe that really showcases the natural sweetness and simplicity of peaches. Definitely give this one a try. And the next time you get a sugar craving, reach for a peach and I assure you that your taste buds will thank you!

 

 

Grilled Peaches with Honey, Yogurt and Mint

(4-6 servings) 

Ingredients:

  • 12 slightly firm peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups thick Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup torn fresh mint leaves

Directions:

Preheat the grill on the highest setting. Brush the peaches with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place on the grill, flesh-side down. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes without moving. Transfer the peaches to a platter and top each half with a large tablespoon of yogurt, drizzle with honey and top with torn mint. Enjoy!

 

Sources:

Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy.  Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(6):883-92.

American Cancer Society. Vitamin C. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/vitamin-c. Accessed August 2, 2014.

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/michael-symon/grilled-peaches-with-honey-yogurt-and-mint.html.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274620.php#nutrition.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1990/2.

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