Health Benefits of Peaches

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on August 07, 2023
8 min read

The peach is a sweet, juicy fruit known for its distinct color and taste. It's been a favorite summertime delight for centuries, originating in China. Throughout its existence, many men, women, and children have enjoyed eating it. Today, it remains a popular fruit. You can enjoy it as a solitary snack, in a smoothie, or as part of an elaborate dessert.

The hard pit in the middle of the peach is not edible, but the soft fleshy insides and thin, fuzzy skin outside are packed with nutrition and flavor.

Peaches belong to a fruit family called stone fruits because of their hard center. The stone fruit family also includes apricots, which are fuzzy like peaches but smaller, firmer, and less sweet, and nectarines, which have smooth, fuzz-free skin.

Should peaches be refrigerated?

Peaches continue to ripen after being picked. Ripen them at room temperature—then, once they're ripe, refrigerate them.

Some peach varieties include:

Red Haven. These peaches are medium sized and freestone. They have golden-yellow skin with a red blush. Their non-browning, sweet yellow flesh is firm and smooth textured. These peaches are good for canning, freezing, and fresh eating. Red Haven is the standard by which all early peaches are judged.

Glohaven. These peaches are large, with a highly colored skin that has almost no fuzz. They have firm, yellow flesh with a pleasant flavor. They are superior for canning and freezing.

Contender. These peaches are very cold hardy and tolerant of late spring frosts. They have skin that's red-orange with sweet yellow flesh.

Red Globe. These peaches are very large. They have firm, yellow flesh with a sweet flavor. One of the most attractive peaches, these are excellent for fresh eating, canning, or freezing.

Canadian Harmony. These medium to large peaches have a moderately firm, non-browning flesh. Their flavor is sweet, and they're excellent for fresh eating.

Early Elberta. These large, golden yellow peaches have a rich, sweet flavor. They're excellent for fresh eating and canning.

Halehaven. These peaches are medium to large, with red over yellow skin that's very sweet. Their freestone flesh is juicy and flavorful.

J.H. Hale. These peaches are extra large, with golden skin covered with red blush. Their flesh is sweet, firm, and yellow flesh. This variety requires pollination from another variety. These are a popular, late peach.

Loring. These medium-sized freestone peaches have a red blush over yellow background. Their yellow flesh is firm and medium textured.

Cresthaven. This variety has medium to large freestone fruit that's bright red over a gold background. The flesh is yellow and non-browning. These peaches are good for canning and freezing.

Elberta. These are large, golden yellow fruits blushed with red. They have firm, rich, sweet, and yellow flesh. They're good for fresh eating and canning. This variety is hardy and productive.

Genetically, the main difference in these two types of tree fruits is the lack of fuzz on the skin of nectarines. But nectarines can also be smaller than peaches and have more red color on the outside and more aroma.

Nectarines pack all the nutrients of peaches but even more so. They have twice the vitamin A, slightly more vitamin C, and much more potassium than peaches.

Nectarines can be eaten and used in the same ways as peaches and may be substituted for them in recipes.

Peaches boast a rare combination—they are low in calories and fat; rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; and tasty enough to be featured in desserts. They also provide various health benefits.

Disease prevention

A diet high in fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of developing diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and some types of cancer. Peaches are one fruit to help combat these health issues.

For instance, the antioxidants in peaches may protect against the damage from free radicals (harmful molecules that affect cells) that can lead to heart disease and cancer. One of these antioxidants is vitamin C, which the body also needs to fight off infections.

Vitamin A is another antioxidant found in peaches that also helps your immune system fight infection. Peaches also contain the minerals iron and zinc, both of which boost immune system function.

Heart health

Peaches are a good source of potassium, which your body uses to regulate your heart rate and blood pressure. Foods high in potassium can help lower your blood pressure by allowing the body to get rid of excess sodium and relaxing tension in the walls of your blood vessels.

Peaches can also help improve cholesterol levels and may reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Digestive health

On top of antioxidant protection and the benefits of potassium, peaches also contain fiber. Fiber is mostly known for helping your digestive system work and your body maintain a healthy weight.

Healthy eyes, skin, and immune system

Peaches hold a wealth of nutrients that are good for your eyes. Examples include vitamins A, C, and E; lutein and zeaxanthin; copper; and zinc.

The vitamin A in peaches is key to skin health, as it supports the constant process of replacing old skin cells with new, healthy cells. It also helps protect your skin from damage by free radicals. Peaches are a good source of vitamins C and K, which your body uses to heal wounds.

Vitamin E boosts your immune system and helps your eyes and skin stay healthy. Small amounts of zinc are also good in helping your blood clot and your thyroid work, in addition to helping your vision. Copper helps your bones and teeth grow, protects your cells from damage, and helps your immune system.

Cancer prevention

Peaches are an excellent source of antioxidants. One study showed that consuming peach peels offers the highest level of anticancer phytochemicals, which are plant nutrients important for human nutrition. Antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage that can lead to cancer.

Protection against damage from smoking

Nicotine causes tissue damage and can lead to heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. Researchers found that consuming white-fleshed peach extract could reduce oxidative damage to these organs. The white-fleshed peach extract increased nicotine metabolism and excretion from the bodies of smokers.

Anti-inflammatory benefits

Peaches contain carotenoids, which are plant pigments that act as antioxidants in the body. Carotenoids reduce the risks of cancer, eye disease, and atherosclerosis by providing the body with various nutrients such as vitamin A.

Vitamin A is vital for eye health and optimal immune system functioning. Researchers have found that peach peels contain the highest carotenoid levels, indicating that it's best to consume preparations made from the peel.

Obesity management

Peach blossom tea is used in various cultures for weight loss. One study showed that peach blossom phytochemicals resulted in anti-obesity effects on laboratory mice. The mice were fed peach blossom water for 8 weeks and demonstrated reduced body weight, less abdominal fat, and lower glucose levels. It is unknown whether peach blossom flowers have the same effect on people with obesity.

Peaches provide vitamins A and C. They're a good source of fiber, and they're low in calories. Also, they're excellent sources of:

  • Choline
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus

Nutrients per serving

One medium-sized peach (a little less than 3 inches across) contains:

  • Calories: 35-60
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 14 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 12 grams

Things to watch out for

Fresh peaches eaten raw offer the most health benefits. But the peak season for peaches is short (usually between June and August), and they do not keep well. It's important to eat them soon after you buy them.

Canned and frozen peaches are also highly nutritious and available in grocery stores year-round. When buying canned peaches, choose peaches packed in natural juice with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

A fresh peach is a sweet, refreshing treat on a summer afternoon. Select firm peaches with deep color and no bruises. Place them in a paper bag on the counter for 1 or 2 days to soften, then enjoy! Once they are ripe and soft, they'll stay in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to 3 days.

How to safely peel peaches for canning or freezing

  • Choose ripe, mature peaches that are firm or "give" slightly. They should have a strong, sweet smell and a yellowish golden background.
  • To peel, dip peaches in boiling water for 30-60 seconds until their skins loosen. Dip quickly in ice cold water and slip off their skins.

Canning peaches

There are different ways to can peaches. Here's one:

Prepare and boil syrup, using 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar per quart of water, depending on how sweet you want them. You can also pack peaches in apple juice or white grape juice.

For the cooked method:

  1. Place a drained fruit in a large saucepan with syrup, water, or juice. Bring to boil.
  2. Fill jars with hot fruit and cooking liquid, leaving a 1/2-inch space at the top.
  3. Place halves in layers, cut side down.
  4. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner: 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, at altitudes up to 1,000 feet.

For the raw method:

  1. Fill hot jars with a raw fruit, cut side down, and add hot water, juice or syrup, leaving a 1/2-inch space at top.
  2. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner: 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts, at altitudes up to 1,000 feet.

Freezing peaches

  1. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons cold water and add to each quart of peaches to slow darkening.
  2. Add 2/3 cup sugar to each quart (1 1/3 pounds) of prepared fruit.
  3. Stir gently until sugar is dissolved or let stand 15 minutes. Place into containers.
  4. Seal, label, and freeze.

Commercial peach tea is available in any supermarket. You can serve peach tea hot and freshly brewed or over ice for a refreshing beverage. Depending on the brand, tea companies may use the leaves or bark of the peach tree. Other preparations use fruit pulp, peel, juice, or extract. The health properties can vary depending on what part of the plant is used.

Commercially prepared peach tea contains very little nutritional value. However, if you prepare peach tea from scratch using the fruit pulp and peel, peach tea is a rich source of vitamins and minerals.

If you're allergic to fruits such as apples, apricots, plums, and cherries, you may also be allergic to peaches.

Peaches are among the more common fruit allergies and typically cause itching and swelling of your mouth or throat. There have been some cases of anaphylactic reactions. You may want to avoid peaches. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have a fruit allergy.