Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fruit Of The Week - Peach

Fruit History:
Although its botanical name Prunus persica refers to Persia as the Persians introduced the fruit into the Western world, peaches actually originated in China, where they have been cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture, circa 2000 BC. Peaches were mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th century BC and were a favoured fruit of kings and emperors. As of late, the history of cultivation of peaches in China has been extensively reviewed citing numerous original manuscripts dating back to 1100 BC. Its English name derives originally from the Latin malum persicum, "Persian apple", which became the French pêche, then peach in Middle English.

The peach was brought to India and Western Asia in ancient times. Peach cultivation also went from China, through Persia, and reached Greece by 300 BC. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians. Romans began cultivating peaches in the first century AD. Then it was brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and eventually made it to England and France in the 17th century, where it was a prized, albeit rare, treat.

The horticulturist George Minifie supposedly brought the first peaches from England to its North American colonies in the early 17th century, planting them at his Estate of Buckland in Virginia. Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia and finally Virginia. 

California today raises 65 percent of peaches grown for commercial production in the United States, but the states of South Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington also grow a significant amount. Italy, China, India and Greece are major producers of peaches outside of the United States. In 2010, a team of researchers at Clemson University, in South Carolina, announced they had sequenced the peach tree genome. - Wikipedia, Peach History

Health Benefits: 
Fresh peaches are also moderate source of vitamin A and ß-carotene. ß-carotene is a pro-vitamin, which converts into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A is known to offer protection from lung and oral cavity cancers. - Nutrition & You 

Peaches are high in a number of nutrients your body needs such as niacin, thiamine, potassium and calcium.- Gardening Channel 

Peaches provide a high source for Potassium. If you have a shortage of potassium, you're likely to have fatigue, anxiety, muscle weakness, skin problems, poor memory, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, congestive heart failure or heart deterioration and vibration in your ears. The laundry list of potential diseases low potassium has more potential to develop if you're on diuretics, have abdominal problems or diarrhea or simply sweat profusely. - Health Food Guide 

One large peach, about 2 3/4 inches in diameter, contains just 68 calories and no fat. Eating peaches instead of more fattening, processed snacks, such as chips, baked goods, cereal bars and cookies, can help you manage your weight. Peaches are naturally sweet and can replace some of the added sugars in your diet. Use them to top unsweetened whole-grain cereal, plain yogurt or plain low-fat cottage cheese, instead of choosing versions of these foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or cane sugar. - Livestrong

Peaches contain many health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and ß-cryptoxanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease process. - Nutrition & You

Peaches also contain lycopene and lutein. These are also carotenes, like beta-carotene and give color to the peach. There are several studies and indications that these two substances, can help prevent macular degeneration, cancer and heart disease. - Health Food Guide

In the "Journal of Medicinal Food," a study published in October 2009 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. This antioxidant may also help ward off cancer and reduce body inflammation. - Livestrong

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