Biting into a fresh, sweet, juicy peach is one of summer’s greatest pleasures. But did you know that peaches are also a superstar in the nutrition department? They’re low in calories, contain only a negligible amount of fat and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Also, despite peaches’ sweet flavor, they’re relatively low in sugar compared to many other fruits, and their robust fiber content helps minimize any quick spikes in blood sugar.

Not only is a ripe peach delicious on its own as a portable, healthy snack, it also shines in a variety of dishes both sweet and savory: in cobblers, smoothies, ice cream, preserves, salads, salsas and sauces, and even cool summer cocktails. Grilling peaches brings out even more natural sweetness, making them a fantastic enhancement to grilled pork or chicken.

Even when it’s not peak peach season, you can still enjoy the flavor and nutritional benefits. According to a recent study at Oregon State University and the Linus Pauling Institute, canned peaches are just as nutritious as fresh, and the high temperatures in the canning process break

down peaches’ cell walls and actually increase concentration of key nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and antioxidants. These nutrient levels remain high for up to two years. Whether you prefer peaches frozen, canned or dried, look for varieties with little to no added sugar.

To add some extra nutritional punch to your everyday diet, peach puree can be a great recipe substitution. Swapping 1/2 cup of pureed peaches for 1 cup of butter or 1 cup of oil in some baked goods saves fat and calories while adding vitamins and antioxidants.

 

Help your peaches ripen faster

Place unripe peaches in a paper bag, fold the bag closed and lay it on its side in a room-temperature location for a few days, checking periodically. The ethylene gas released by the peaches will prompt them to ripen more quickly. Once they’re ready, store them in the refrigerator until ready to eat or prepare.