Peaches are a member of the stone fruit family, along with nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries. (Fun fact: They are also a relative of almonds!) In addition to being downright delicious, especially at their peak, peaches offer some unique health benefits. Here are eight reasons to get your fill of this gorgeous, fuzzy fruit while it's plentiful.
Peaches are good for digestion
One medium peach provides nearly 10% of the daily minimum fiber target. In addition to preventing constipation and supporting good digestive health, peach fiber helps manage . Peaches also contain prebiotics, which feed beneficial bacteria in the gut tied to anti-inflammation, immunity, and mood.
They can boost your immune system
Peaches support immunity in three ways. One medium peach supplies over 15% of the daily goal for vitamin C. Several types of immune cells need this nutrient for their production, function, and protection. The vitamin A in peaches (one medium fruit provides 10% of your daily need) helps form the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract. Stronger membranes form better protective barriers to keep germs out of your bloodstream. Peaches also defend immunity by way of their natural antimicrobial properties.
And perk up your skin too
In addition to their anti-inflammatory antioxidants, peaches have beta carotene and vitamin C to support healthy skin. Beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, helps protect skin from sun damage, warms skin tone, and helps create a natural glow. Vitamin C is needed to build collagen, improve skin elasticity, and fend off sagging. Peaches are also hydrating, as over 85% of a fresh peach is water.
RELATED: 12 Creative Peach Recipes
Peaches protect your eyes
The lutein and zeaxanthin in peaches help protect the retina and lens, and have been shown to reduce the risk of and cataracts, two common eye disorders. The vitamin A in peaches also helps support healthy vision. While rare, a true deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, which can damage normal vision and result in night blindness—the inability to see in the dark or low light.
They may lower cancer risk
The polyphenol antioxidants in peaches have been shown to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells, particularly breast cancer. One study that followed women for 24 years found that two fruits in particular stood out as being protective. A higher intake of berries and peaches was associated with a lower risk of estrogen receptive-negative breast cancer among post-menopausal women.
And help with weight management
Recent research shows that bioactive compounds in peaches have anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity properties. Their ability to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and their filling fiber and water content also make them a smart choice for weight management.
Peaches mightpromote brain health
Antioxidants found in peaches are known to combat oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to counter their harmful effects. That’s key for brain health, as oxidative stress is known to be a causative factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
They’re helpful for blood pressure control and de-bloating
The potassium in a peach (one medium fruit supplies 8% of the daily recommended goal) helps regulate blood pressure by acting as a natural diuretic to sweep excess sodium and fluid out of the body. This relieves pressure on the heart and arteries, and bonus, helps with de-bloat.
How to add more peaches to your diet
Peaches can be enjoyed in both savory and sweet dishes. Whip peaches into smoothies; add to oatmeal or overnight oats; puree for sauces, pudding, or frozen pops; incorporate into pie, , and other desserts; or enjoy as is. Peaches are fantastic grilled, added to garden salads, transformed into salsa, or slivered into slaw. Unlike cherries, peaches continue to ripen after they’re picked. If you prefer a juicer peach, place it in a paper bag at room temperature to speed up its transformation.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health's contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a nutrition consultant for the New York Yankees.
To get more nutrition and diet tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Real Wellness newsletter.