Hello and welcome to today’s installment of Cooking with Fey! On this rainy Friday we are going to continue exploring iconic summer foods and dive into another beloved warm weather food, peaches.
Nothing says summer to me quite like peaches. Why? Because peaches are one of my favorite fruits to eat as a kid on those long, hot summer days. We didn’t have an air conditioner where I lived as a child, but a peach fresh from the fridge made the day better and the heat not so bad. Plus, I have a terrible sweet tooth and just loved it when my grandmother made peach cobbler for us!
Aside from my feelings of nostalgia, peaches have health benefits to add to your diet such as: reducing free radicals in the body, warding off some cancers and keeping our skin looking youthful. Just like the article two weeks ago on lemons, that’s a lot of benefit from one little, fuzzy fruit!
So with all that in mind, let’s break down how peaches are able to make such wonderful boasts about helping us live a healthy lifestyle. Besides being ridiculously tasty and amazing in almost any meal. Okay, okay, enough of my babbling!
As you may know, peaches are a stone fruit from China that contains a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes.
Granted, not all peach varieties are created equal. Some contain higher antioxidant profiles than others, but regardless of the type of peach you eat, just remember that the peel has the highest dose of antioxidants when compared to the pulp. So be sure to munch on the peel of the fruit as you enjoy this tasty treat. Also, as with most things in life, fresher is always better, and peaches are no different. Fresh peaches contain much higher antioxidant levels than peach jams or preserves.
But what are these magical antioxidants that make peaches so great at fighting free radicals? Well, caffeic acid is one antioxidant found in peaches that protects the body from a carcinogenic mold called aflatoxin that’s often found in certain types of food like peanuts, corn and peanut butter. More than any other antioxidant tested, the caffeic acid found in peaches destroyed the production of aflatoxin, reducing it by as much as 95 percent.
Caffeic acid is also a rock star when it comes to helping the body fight fibrocarcinoma, a nasty tumor that can grow in the body’s fibrous connective tissues. Additionally, the caffeic acid in peaches can also slow the development of some types of colon cancers!
Peaches also contain high levels of polyphenols, which are compounds known for kicking some cancer’s butts. In fact, researchers at Texas A&M found that the polyphenols in peaches slowed the growth and metastasis of one strain of breast cancer. The study results were so positive that researchers recommended breast cancer patients consume two or three peaches a day to help combat the cancer (Polyphenolics from peach [Prunus persica var. Rich Lad] inhibit tumor growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cells in vivo, 2014.)
Also, in a different Texas A&M study, researchers found that not only do polyphenols slow the development of breast cancer, but they do so without harming any of the healthy tissue nearby. Now that’s a medical breakthrough that I can get behind!
These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin. Which this girl is all about! Lord knows my poor skin needs all the help it can get after years spent worshiping the sun as a teen.
And it’s not just the delicious parts of the fruit that are beneficial to our health! While doing my research I discovered that in ancient China the seeds and flowers of the peach plant were used to treat patients. For example, modern medicine found that the chemical compounds within the peach seed can slow the development of papilloma tumors on or in the skin, and stave off the growth of these tumors into full blown cancer! (Anti-tumor Promoting Effect of Glycosides from Prunus persica Seeds, 2003). While the flowers of the peach tree can protect the skin from harmful UV damage and the onset of some skin cancers.
So the next time you see peaches at your local farmer’s market, take a big bite of stone fruit to take a big step in holistic health!