The beginning of summer adds one thing to my "to do" list, according to Dad. "Be sure you buy peaches when you’re at the grocery store," he always reminds me. Dad has an affinity for this fruit, also known as a drupe due to the hard stone pit surrounding the fruit seed.
And it turns out that eating peaches - as well as their cousins, plums and nectarines - may be part of the battle plan to fight obesity and diabetes. Preliminary findings from a study by Dr. Jose Cisnero-Zevallos, a Texas A&M University associate professor and researcher, focuses on cell models that resembled specific scenarios, such as the cellular makeup of someone who is obese. He then tested compounds in the stone fruit in order to understand their effect on the body. Cisnero-Zevallos, who will present his research in August to the American Chemical Society, found that stone fruit inhibits fat accumulation and chronic inflammation. This inflammation is "a stage of obesity in which fat cells behave abnormally and negatively affect the body’s reception of insulin," The Eagle reporter Brooke West wrote. The study has not yet determined the amount of these fruits that needs to be consumed to stave off obesity and diabetes.
Peaches, plums and nectarines also offer other health benefits and make a good - and tasty - addition to a healthy diet. So here is some sweet insight into each fruit.
Self NutritionData reports that one large peach that’s 2-3/4 inches in diameter has 68 calories. The website rates this fruit four-and-a-half stars (out of five) for weight loss and four stars (out of five) for optimum health. "This food is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, niacin and potassium, and a very good source of vitamin C," Self NutritionData states.
LiveStrong.com pointed to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009 that "reported that significant antioxidants are present in the flesh and skin of peaches. One of the major antioxidants in peaches, chlorogenic acid, helps scavenge free radicals - compounds that your body acquires through exposure to pollutants, food and the environment - to reduce the effects of aging and deter chronic diseases." Chlorogenic acid also is believes to help fight cancer and reduce inflammation.
Plums are relatives of almonds, as well as peaches and nectarines. And drying plums turns them into prunes. The George Mateljan Foundation noted that one plum, which has 30 calories, is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, fiber, tryptophan and potassium. Plums also have a high content of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid, which are important antioxidants. Plums and prunes also help increase the absorption of iron into the body. Eating three daily servings of fruit such as plums and prunes also may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 36 percent.
Self NutritionData notes that one cup of sliced raw nectarines has 63 calories. Rating this fruit as four stars (out of five) for both weight loss and optimum health, the website states that a nectarines is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, niacin and potassium. Nectarines also are a very good source of vitamin C.
LiveStrong.com reports that nectarines also are a good source for beta-carotene, which enables the body to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin A. Not having enough beta-carotene and, thus vitamin A, can lead to abnormal bone development, reproductive disorders, macular degeneration, and, in severe cases, death.
So whether you’re at the grocery store or the farm stand, load up on peaches, nectarines and plums so you can enjoy their great flavor - and their health benefits.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Cespedes, A. (2011). What are the health benefits of peaches? LiveStrong.com
Ipatenco, S. (2011). What are the health benefits of nectarines? LiveStrong.com
Self NutritionData. (N.D.). Nectarines, raw.
Self NutritionData. (N.D.). Peaches, raw.
The George Mateljan Foundation. (N.D.). Plums.
West, B. (2012). Texas A&M researcher finds peaches can fight obesity. The Eagle.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.