Peaches are an extremely popular fruit, offering a healthy snack that people of all ages tend to love. A peach is delicious eaten raw, or it has a wide variety of applications in cooking and baking. The peach is a top choice for cobbler, pies and other baked goods, and it also can be delicious simply spiced and baked as a side dish. As with many fruits, the peach is also known for its antioxidant activity and is also a good source for dietary fiber.
Selecting a peach. The flesh of a ripe peach is sweet, juicy and easy to bite into. It should be just slightly soft, and the skin should be a reddish-purple with rich yellow tips. The fruit has a fine velvety fuzz and a sweet scent. The riper the peach, the sweeter and softer it will be. An unripe peach may have a texture similar to an apple, and likely will be more starchy than sweet. Peaches taste best when they're stored at room temperature, but they also won't keep very long. Buy peaches when you intend to eat them or bake with them soon after purchase. In addition, peaches can be peeled, sliced and frozen for a delicious treat anytime. The peel turns bitter with freezing, so it should definitely be removed first. A peach has gone bad when it molds and the flesh discolors.
Health benefits. Some sources refer to peaches as "antioxidant bombs." While this may be an overstatement when compared to some other common fruits on the market, they certainly do have a number of antioxidants and other healthful nutrients. Antioxidants are instrumental in eliminating free radicals throughout the body. The National Institutes of Health explains, "Free radicals damage cells and might contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer." On that token, peaches and other antioxidant-containing foods may help to prevent cancer and other serious health issues. It's also believed that antioxidants help fight the signs of aging in general. Peaches are a good source of potassium, niacin, and vitamins A and C.