I’m always on the lookout for foods that may prevent or arrest cancer. Since mounting evidence shows that the foods we eat weigh heavily in the war against cancer, it just makes sense to consume as many of these foods as we can.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that peaches — sweet, luscious, gorgeous peaches — would fall into that category. Broccoli? Yes. Garlic? No question. But peaches?
Researchers at Texas A&M University, in concert with food scientist Giuliana Noratto, say “yes,” especially when it comes to breast cancer.
In a first-of-its-kind study, published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Noratto and her colleagues found that peach extracts drive breast cancer cells in mice to self-destruct, while leaving normal ones intact. Two powerful antioxidants found in peaches appear to be the frontline warriors.
According to Noratto, we can get the same dose as the mice by eating two to three fresh peaches a day. Canned peaches, she said, don’t pack the same cancer-fighting punch. Of course, this is but one study and one team’s findings, but it certainly shows promise.
On the nutrition front, peaches rock with healthy doses of fiber, vitamins C and A, niacin and potassium. Fiber keeps us regular and helps regulate cholesterol levels; vitamin C is a tissue-builder and immune-booster; vitamin A is essential for growth and healthy vision; niacin assists in the conversion of food to energy; and potassium helps control blood pressure.
On the calorie front, peaches are remarkably low for such a sweet li’l thing: only 60 per medium peach. As for grams of sugar, peaches have fewer than an apple, more than an orange and about the same as a banana.
Need a few more reasons to reach for a peach? Well, they’re delicious; they’re in season; and they’re awfully tasty with yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
Select peaches with a rich color and a sweet aroma. Ripe ones yield to gentle pressure. Avoid peaches that are overly soft or that have surface cuts and bruises. Slightly hard but mature peaches can be kept at room temperature until they ripen. To hasten ripening process, put peaches inside a closed paper bag and set on counter, out of direct sunlight.
Honey-Glazed Chicken with Peach Salsa
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 3/4 cups diced peaches (about 3 large)
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño chile
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons honey
Fresh cilantro or mint leaves
Mix peaches, red bell pepper, green onions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, chopped cilantro or mint, jalapeño, 1 teaspoon ginger, and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Salsa can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger in medium bowl to blend. Add chicken and stir to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Whisk honey and remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice in another small bowl. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat; lightly oil grill grate. Remove the chicken from marinade and place on grill. Grill the chicken until no longer pink inside, brushing occasionally with honey glaze, about six to eight minutes per side. Sprinkle chicken with cilantro or mint leaves and serve with peach salsa and (suggested) a side of brown rice.
Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org.