by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting
Summer brings in a variety of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables that are in season.
One of these fresh and versatile produce is a peach. Peaches are found in over 200 varieties in the U.S., and they are available from July through September.
Depending on the variety, the outer skin varies from a pale yellow to a deep red color with either yellow or white flesh, and flavors vary from tart to sweet.
Yellow flesh varieties are rich in vitamin A and have a higher sugar content.
White flesh varieties are slightly more acidic, which adds a tangy sweetness to various dishes.
Peaches are classified into:
Clingstone: Not easily peeled, as its flesh clings to the pit. However, peaches that contain yellow, bright red flesh are sweeter, juicier and softer than freestones, making them great candidates for jams, eaten fresh or added to beverages.
Freestone: Very easily peeled. They are larger but not as juicy, sweet but not too sweet, making them not a preferred choice for baking. However, they are the most often favored peaches found in supermarkets.
Semi-freestone: Hybrid variety that is sweet, juicy and easy to peel.
Peaches offer great versatility as they can be eaten fresh, added to salads or baked in pies/cobblers, made into jams, jellies, sorbet, caramel, smoothies, butter, salsa or even popsicles. They can also be canned, frozen and grilled or added as a topping on your pizza!
Annual consumption of peaches has dropped to about 8.8 pounds per person in the last two decades due to customers’ frustration with gritty textures, fruit browning and lack of sweetness.
The best way to eat peaches is to pick them fresh. Store-bought peaches often are harvested too early and ripen in distribution houses. This process interferes with their texture, flavor and even nutritional value.
One medium peach offers about 60 calories, 2 g fiber, vitamins A, C, E, and K, along with potassium, copper and manganese. Peaches are rich in other antioxidants and phytochemicals such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
Health benefits of peaches:
- Low-calorie snack
- Supports healthy skin and heart, immune and nervous systems
- Improves digestion
- Functions as a diuretic
- Improves eye health
- Has anxiety-reducing effects
- Improves quality of sleep
End your day with a refreshing peach lemonade or white peach float and enjoy the sunset!