Peaches are round, fuzzy-skinned fruits that have a hard pit inside. There are two main types of peaches, freestone and clingstone, which are named for their respective ease in removing the inside pit. Peaches are originally from China and from there were introduced to the Middle East where they eventually spread to Europe. Later, Spanish explorers brought peaches to North America where they became popular. In America today, the major peach producers are in California, Texas, Oregon, and the southern Atlantic states. They are also cultivated in southern Europe, Africa, Japan, Australia, and South America.
Peaches are good sources of carotenes and flavonoids, such as lycopene and lutein, which give the fruit their red, orange, and yellow coloring. These phytochemicals are especially good for helping to prevent macular degeneration, heart disease, and cancer. In addition, they act as strong antioxidants that help to prevent and heal a number of diseases, including high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, aging, and a number of other conditions.
Antioxidants in the body help to protect against harmful free radicals. Free radicals act like a pin, and our body’s cells act as a couch. The free radical ‘pins’ poke at the couch, and over time the couch becomes torn and destroyed. The same things happen to the cells of our body, including our DNA. When our cells continually undergo this damage, over time, disease is the result. This is why getting an adequate amount of antioxidants is so essential to good health. And the carotenes and flavonoids in peaches act as strong antioxidants to help neutralize the free radicals before they can damage healthy cells.
Peaches have good levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, carotenes, flavonoids, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. The fiber in peaches helps the body to remain regular and prevent constipation and other digestive problems. Because most Americans don’t get enough fiber on a daily basis, eating more peaches and other high fiber foods can help to reduce the high number of digestive problems that our nation faces today. Though peaches aren't necessarily a superstar fruit, they meet all of the requirements of a healthy food: low calorie, high fiber, and significant amounts of nutrients. Peaches also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid that has some anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Therefore, this fruit helps to prevent and treat all of the conditions that are associated with inflammation and free radical damage, which is nearly any and every disease to be thought of!
When buying peaches, they are best during the summer months of June to August, but can typically be purchased year-round as they are imported from South America. Ripe peaches should yield slightly to pressure; if the fruit is quite hard then it is unripe and if it is pretty soft or mushy then it is overripe. Also be sure to check for bruising and signs of spoilage. The color of the peach indicates the type of peach more than the ripeness of the fruit.
Raw Summer Peach Cobbler
* 1 fresh summer peach, halved and sliced thinly
* 1/2 teaspoon agave
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamonGet the rest of the recipe at RawFoodsDiana.com
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