Introduction and description
Prunus persica - (L.)Batsch Is the botanical name given to the Peach, Flowering Peach, Ornamental Peach, or Common Peach, in the family Rosaceae and also known as Amygdalis persicus or Persica vulgaris.
The fruit has a fuzzy soft skin and inside a seed/stone. If the skin is smooth, we give it the name of nectarine, although nectarines and peaches are the same botanically. The variety P. persica var. nucipersica (or var. nectarina), is the nectarine. Several genetic studies have concluded nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas a fuzzy peach skin is dominant. Some men are like this [sorry, my little joke].
The seed/nut can contain hydrogen cyanide, which at overdose levels is considered a poison. In the first place, you do not eat the seed, you eat the flesh, as such you will suffer no harm, however, a homeopathically small amount of this chemical is in the flesh, where it has a beneficial effect, as it appears to help with the gut flora.
The plant is a native of China and China is still the biggest grower of peaches. Wild trees in the Himalayas can yield as much as 36kg or so of fruit a year. Fruits of the wild peach are richer in nutrients than the cultivated forms.
The peach is also symbolic, and is especially revered in eastern culture.
A great many claims are made about the peach and its leaves and seed. I am not going to repeat them. Instead it is best if you look at the observations which have some scientific support for them.
But if you look at the nutritional content of the peach you should be able to see that it is a very nutritious food, very high in minerals and vitamins as well as many other nutrients. You would need to take care about the omega-3, omega-6 fatty acid balance, but on the whole peaches are simply good for you, especially as they have a high vitamin C content. It is quite likely that it is this high nutritional value, coupled with its ability to restore some of your gut flora, that has given it such a good reputation medicinally.
There is another property of the peach rarely mentionned.
What will be apparent if you look at the list below of chemical constituents, is that this sample contained some heavy metals - lead and iron, for example. The presence of these minerals is an indication that they were present in the soil, but it also means that the fruit of a peach is able to take up heavy metals. Many plants will take up heavy metals in their leaf and root systems and stems or branches, but the fruit may remain free. It appears that the fruit of the peach is not free and as such care should be taken on where the plant is grown and where you get your peaches from. Italian peaches grown deep in the heart of the southern Italian contryside, for example, or Chinese peaches straight from the Himalayas, are probably heavy metal free; but peaches grown near some of the USA big cities may well not be, given the amount of lead that was once used in American gas guzzler cars.
Heavy metals for which our bodies have no use are shown in the table below in Red. Note that in time, it may be found that some of these metals do have a use, feeding our intestinal eco-sysytem, but for the time being they are regarded as not needed and in some cases not wanted.
If we look at this in a positive way, the peach is a natural chelating agent. If we can find an organically grown source of peaches, from an area free of toxins, we have a healing agent.
The following table was derived from Dr Duke's Plant database, it shows the chemical in a peach, or at least the sample used and the Lo ppm, Hi ppm.
- Potassium - high levels
As you can see a Peach is a very good source of essential minerals.
Vitamins - are shown in green. A peach does not contain, Vitamin B7 [also known as biotin], Vitamin B12 [also known as cobalamin], Vitamin D [also known as ergocalciferol], or Vitamin K [also known as naphthoquinoids] although there seems to be some disagreement here in the various sources I looked at, some say it has. Vitamin C content is high.
- Vitamin B1 - also known as thiamin.
- Vitamin B2 - also known as riboflavin.
- Vitamin B3 - also known as niacin.
- Vitamin B5 - also known as pantothenic acid.
- Vitamin B9 [also known as folic acid or folate or folacin]
- Vitamin C - also known as ascorbic acid. Peaches are high in Vitamin C
- Vitamin E - also known as tocopherol.
- Vitamin B6 - also known as pyridoxine
- Vitamin A - also known as Beta carotene
Other miscellaneous nutrients - the lists of vitamins and mineral shown above are the generally accepted ones, but in addition to these we have a few unclassified nutrients. Choline is not present, [although there seems to be disagreement here among sources], it is a water-soluble essential nutrient. It must be consumed through the diet for the body to remain healthy. Cyanide, in another form, is present, it has an essential role in very small doses in feeding our friendly bacteria.
Essential Fatty acids - are shown in pink. ALA - α-Linolenic acid is not present, specifically, although the more general PUFA category may imply it is. LA - Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid is present.
Essential amino acids are shown in violet. Peaches do not contain Phenylalanine, and of the six amino acids considered conditionally essential in the human diet, cysteine is not present, nor is glutamine, although glutamic acid is. But, Peaches do contain Serine, which is a precursor to several amino acids including glycine and cysteine. It is also the precursor to numerous other metabolites, including sphingolipids and folate, as such although some essential amino acids are not directly present, the precursors are.
- proline and
Given that manic depressives and schizophrenics are often given lithium and peaches appear to contain lithium, at least this sample did, perhaps these poor people should be given a peach a day to eat, instead of medication.
A-DECALACTONE , ,
ACETIC-ACID , ,
ALANINE , 420, 3402
ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL , 10, 86
ALUMINUM , 2.25, 1050
ANTHOCYANIDIN , ,
ARGININE , 180, 1458
ARSENIC , 0.001, 0.053
ASCORBIC-ACID , 14, 1127
ASH , 4000, 150000
ASPARTIC-ACID , 1170, 8586
BARIUM , 0.045, 30
BENZALDEHYDE , ,
BENZYL-ACETATE , ,
BENZYL-ALCOHOL , ,
BETA-CAROTENE , 0, 30
BORON , 1, 150
BROMINE , ,
CADMIUM , 0, 0.45
CALCIUM , 18, 8850
CARBOHYDRATES , 111000, 910000
CHROMIUM , 0.01, 2.25
CITRIC-ACID , ,
COBALT , 0.005, 0.45
COPPER , 0.3, 30
CYANIDIN-3-MONOGLUCOSIDE , ,
CYSTINE , 60, 486
ETHANOL , ,
ETHYL-ACETATE , ,
ETHYL-BENZOATE , ,
FAT , 860, 18000
FIBER , 6210, 162000
FLAVONOL-GLYCOSIDES , , 10
FLUORINE , 0.1, 0.8
FOLACIN , 0.031, 0.303
FORMIC-ACID , ,
GAMMA-HEPTALACTONE , ,
GAMMA-HEXALACTONE , ,
GAMMA-NONALACTONE , ,
GLUTAMIC-ACID , 1060, 8586
GLYCINE , 240, 1944
HEXANOIC-ACID , ,
HEXYL-ACETATE , ,
HEXYL-FORMATE , ,
HISTIDINE , 130, 1053
IRON , 1, 99
ISOLEUCINE , 200, 1620
ISOVALERIANIC-ACID , ,
L-MALIC-ACID , ,
LEAD , 0.3, 3
LEUCINE , 400, 3240
LINOLEIC-ACID , 440, 3565
LINOLENIC-ACID , 10, 80
LITHIUM , 0.06, 0.6
LUTEIN , 0.14, 2.8
LYCOPENE , ,
LYSINE , 230, 1863
MAGNESIUM , 68, 850
MALONIC-ACID , ,
MANGANESE , 0, 22.5
MERCURY , 0, 0.007
METHIONINE , 170, 1377
METHYL-ACETATE , ,
MOLYBDENUM , 0.1, 1.05
MUFA , 340, 2755
NIACIN , 10, 82
NICKEL , 0.15, 4.5
NITROGEN , 1400, 13075
OLEIC-ACID , 340, 2755
PALMITIC-ACID , 90, 730
PALMITOLEIC-ACID , 10, 80
PANTOTHENIC-ACID , 2, 14
PECTINS , , 8600
PENTANOIC-ACID , ,
PENTYL-ACETATE , ,
PHOSPHORUS , 90, 2000
PHYTIN-PHOSPHORUS , , 10
PHYTOSTEROLS , 100, 810
POTASSIUM , 1275, 22072
PROLINE , 290, 2349
PROTEIN , 6850, 63000
PUFA , 450, 3645
QUERCETIN-3'-GLUCOSIDE , ,
QUERCETIN-3-0-GALACTOSIDE , ,
QUERCETIN-3-0-RUTINOSIDE , ,
QUERCETIN-3-DIGLUCOSIDE , ,
QUERCETIN-3-O-RHAMNOSIDE , ,
RIBOFLAVIN , 1, 4
SELENIUM , 0, 0.003
SERINE , 320, 2592
SFA , 100, 810
SILICON , 4, 30
SILVER , 0.015, 0.3
SODIUM , 0, 366
STEARIC-ACID , 10, 80
STRONTIUM , 0.225, 45
SUCROSE , 20000, 100000
SULFUR , 3, 700
TANNIN , , 8000
THIAMIN , 1, 2
THREONINE , 270, 2187
TITANIUM , 0.075, 30
TRANS-2-HEXENYL-ACETATE , ,
TRYPTOPHAN , 20, 162
TYROSINE , 180, 1458
VALINE , 380, 3078
VIT-B-6 , 0.2, 1.6
WATER , 835000, 964000
ZEAXANTHIN , ,
ZINC , 0.45, 37.5
ZIRCONIUM , 0.3, 4.5
Peaches are nicest eaten raw, all on their own, but they can be added successfully to salads, they can be made into a delicious jam, they can be grilled and served with mascarpone cheese, they can be used in a delicious chicken curry made with coconut milk. They are delicious filled with cottage cheese and topped with nuts. So in fact they are very versatile.
“When fully ripe, the fruit of the best forms are very juicy with a rich delicious flavour”. The flesh can be white, a rich yellow or even a dark rich red colour. The red coloured flesh has just the hint of the taste of blood oranges.
Although I have concentrated on the fruit it is worth knowing that the leaves are used in France to produce an infused wine known as vin de pêche. This is created by blending peach leaves, brandy, red wine and sugar for 10 to 14 days until ready to drink. A recipe can be found using this LINK, the nutrient value will of course be different from the table above.
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