By Misty Miranda, RDN, LD
Peaches are a stone fruit known for their juicy natural sweetness and their soft, fuzzy skin. In the United States, most peaches are grown in California and the southern states, including Georgia, which is known as The Peach State.
Based on the geographic distribution of the wild relatives of cultivated peaches, as well as ancient Eastern Asian art and literature, the general consensus is that peaches originated in China and spread westward through the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road. Interestingly enough, Charles Darwin believed that peaches were a mutated form of almonds, which also originated in Asia. More recent research, however, has found that peaches and almonds are closely related but are not sister species.
There are two main varieties of peaches: the freestone and the clingstone. The freestone peach has a soft flesh that does not stick to the pit, making it easier to eat or process by hand. The clingstone peach, which has flesh that clings to the pit, is more suitable for canning.
Peaches are a great source of vitamins A and C. One small peach provides 5% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A and 10% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Vitamin A is vital for healthy skin and mucous membranes, like those of the eye. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is an antioxidant that aids in wound healing, iron absorption, and overall immune health. While peaches are in season during the summer, research shows that fresh and canned peaches have comparable nutritional content, so it is easy to enjoy this nutritious treat year-round.
With their natural sweetness, peaches are a versatile fruit that can be added to a variety of meals. Try one of the tips below to add some extra sweetness to your day.
- Top a mixed green salad with sliced peaches, feta cheese, and pecans for the perfect sweet and savory combination.
- Add peaches to cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for a protein-packed sweet snack.
- Blend peaches with vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, your choice of milk, and a touch of honey for a peach pie smoothie.
- Dice peaches, tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and mix with lime juice for a delicious fresh salsa to use for fish tacos or as a dip with tortilla chips.