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Who doesn’t love a sweet, juicy peach on a warm summer afternoon? In fact, these flavorful orbs are one of our oldest domesticated fruits, having first been cultivated in China around 4,000 years ago. Franciscan Monks are credited with bringing peaches to North America in the mid-1500s, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that they became a true commercial crop, when Georgia growers began shipping them to markets in New York.
While Georgia is known as “The Peach State,” California actually produces the majority grown in the U.S. today, accounting for about 65 percent of the total crop of both clingstone (usually sold canned or jarred) and freestone (usually sold fresh) varieties.
Did you know?
Peaches are the second largest commercial fruit crop grown in the United States, behind only apples.
While they’re available year-round, July and August are peak harvest times in the U.S., which is why President Ronald Reagan declared August National Peach Month in 1982.
While other fruits are known more for their high concentrations of specific nutrients, peaches are the total package, coming in with a higher “Completeness Score“—a measure of 23 different essential nutrients—than blueberries, pomegranates, apples, oranges, grapefruit, pears, grapes, plums, and bananas.
Peaches have a low glycemic load, meaning they don’t cause blood sugar spikes, and they’re low in calories (about 70 in 1 large peach) and fat (about half a gram in 1 medium peach). Plus, the fat they do contain is heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. And since they’re about 87 percent water and also contain a generous amount of fiber, peaches can help you feel full longer, making them an all-around great snack for dieters.
One large peach also contains:
- 19% of the Daily Value of vitamin C
- 11% DV of vitamin A
- 10% DV of fiber
- 10% DV of potassium
- 6% DV of vitamins E & K
- 4% DV of magnesium
- 3% DV of protein (yes, protein!)
That golden color is a clue that peaches also contain a good amount of beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A essential for healthy immunity and vision. And speaking of vision, these fresh summer fruits also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids associated with decreased risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Did you know?
Peaches are members of the rose family, closely related to almonds.
Choosing & Using Peaches
Basically, the sweeter the smell, the riper the fruit. Fresh peaches should be fragrant and yield to slight pressure, with no soft or brown spots. And the background color should be yellow or creamy, not green.
Peaches & Cream Pops — These delicious, dairy-free frozen treats come together in minutes and won’t bust your diet.
Peach, Almond, And Cardamom Crumble — A cardamom-laced topping and toasted almonds add depth and rich contrast to fresh summer fruit.
Ginger Peach Parfait — The healing powers of ginger make this refreshing treat an über-healthy snack.