Not only are apricots prized for their distinct color and flavor but their impressive nutritional profile as well. Packed with essential nutrients that promote various health perks, apricots prove to be an excellent addition to a well-balanced diet.
Find out how apricots can keep your heart healthy, fight free radical damage, boost your digestive system, strengthen your bones, and combat cancer risk in this article! We’ve also included some yummy tips on how to maximize this fruit in your nutritional plans.
What are Apricots?
The apricot is an edible fruit that belongs to the genus Prunus along with peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries. It may also refer to the apricot tree where the fruit came from.
Apricots are small with a golden orange color and velvety skin. Their flavor is smooth and sweet with subtle tartness that resembles that of a plum or a peach.
Apricots are believed to have originated from either Armenia or China. But while their roots have not been settled yet, these nutrient-dense fruits are now widely grown all over the world. In North America, apricots are in season from May through August.
Apricots are chock full of nutrients as well. They are low in calories but are high in important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C, protein and fiber.
They have also been linked to an impressive array of health benefits, from enhancing vision to promoting healthy digestion, and more.
Apricots: Interesting Facts
The apricot is a pretty small tree, with a height ranging from 26 to 39 feet, and a trunk diameter of only 16 inches. The tree’s canopy is also dense and stretched out.
California is the largest apricot producer in America. About 95 percent of apricots enjoyed in the U.S. come from California. But worldwide, Turkey leads the apricot production, followed by Uzbekistan and Iran.
Refrigeration impairs the ripening process of apricots. They are best left at room temperature until they are ripe before you put them on the fridge.
What are the Health Benefits of Apricots?
So, many people are raving about the supposed health perks of this flavorful fruit. But what are they exactly? Here’s a list of these impressive apricot health benefits:
Apricots promote eye health
Apricots contain vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are all known to promote healthy eyes.
These essential nutrients and compounds help to protect the eyes against free radical damage, resulting in a reduced risk of eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
These compounds have also been linked to an improved optical density for better vision.
Apricots improve digestion
Apricots are also a great source of dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. High-fiber foods like apricots help to add bulk to stool, preventing constipation.
One study found that dietary fiber intake increased the stool frequency in constipation sufferers. Because of this, apricots also help to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal problems by regularly cleaning out the intestines.
Apricots promote weight loss
The rich dietary fiber content of apricots makes them an ideal snack for people who want to shed some pounds. Not only does apricot’s fiber content improve your digestion but it helps boost your metabolism as well.
It no longer comes as a surprise why experts suggest snacking on the fruit when you’re feeling hungry but on a diet. Apricots fill you up without adding unnecessary calories.
Rinse your mouth, though, after eating the fruit’s dried version as it has more sugar, which can adversely affect your dental health.
Apricots fight free radical damage
One of the most prized apricot benefits is its ability to combat free radical damage.
Oxidative stress can cause several health conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, inflammatory conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
But apricot’s rich antioxidant content helps combat oxidative damage, preventing the development of such illnesses.
Apricots protect heart health
With its high fiber content, apricots also help to decrease the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in your body, while increasing the HDL or good cholesterol.
Having low LDL levels and high HDL levels helps prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Apricots also contain rich amounts of potassium, which is needed to maintain a good electrolyte balance.
When such a balance is achieved, the heart muscles are able to work optimally, keeping the heart in great condition.
Apricots help prevent anemia
Not only can apricots prevent diabetes and neurological disorders but blood-related conditions as well like anemia. Dried apricots are also a good source of iron. A hundred-gram of apricot contains about 2.7 mg of this important nutrient.
It is essential to note, though, that the type of iron contained in dried apricots is non-heme, which is absorbed by the body at a much slower rate. But you can improve its absorption by eating other foods rich in vitamin c and heme iron.
Apricots strengthen your bones
Another prized apricot benefit is its ability to strengthen bones. Calcium is an essential nutrient needed by the body to support bone health, and apricots are a rich source of it.
What’s more, apricots are also packed with potassium, a vital mineral that enhances calcium absorption. Both important compounds are abundant in apricots, making the fruit an excellent pick for those who want to keep their bones healthy and strong.
Apricots prevent the risk of cancer
Oxidative damage may also lead to cancer, which is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the world.
Apricots help to combat the risk of developing this chronic disease; thanks to its powerful antioxidants! Some of the nutrients contained in apricots have antioxidant properties that fight free radical damage, a risk factor for cancer.
Apricots boost skin health
There’s no wonder why some beauty products use apricots, too! The valuable compounds contained in the fruit such as vitamins A and C and phytonutrients help to boost skin health.
Its antioxidant properties also help to slow down the aging process, promoting glowing, young-looking skin. So, if you want to maintain beautiful skin, don’t forget to savor some apricots as well!
How to Add Apricots to Your Diet
Another thing about apricots is that they’re so delicious and versatile that you can enjoy them in various ways! Fresh or dried, they are so easy to add to a healthy diet.
Here are some yummy ways you can savor this healthy and tasty fruit:
Slice fresh apricots and add them to your breakfast cereal.
You can also perk up your yogurt by incorporating some diced dried apricots into it.
If you want to add some sweetness to your sandwich, you can also make a bread spread that has diced dried apricots.
Apricot jams are popular, too! You can search for apricot jam recipes online. It’s better if you can find one that uses little or no sugar, so you can enjoy it sans the guilt!
This tasty fruit is also commonly added to crumbles, pies, tarts, and cakes. You can add apricots to any of these baked goodies in place of or with peaches.
Apricots make a great addition to salads, too! They go pretty well with green leafy veggies, almonds, and feta. Dash some balsamic dressing, and you’re in for a healthy treat!
Note: You can try any of these tasty ideas if you want to enjoy fresh or dried apricots in a nutritious diet. Dried apricots are best refrigerated, while fresh apricots are best consumed sooner to avoid over-ripeness and less efficacy of nutrients.
What are the Potential Risks of Consuming Apricot?
While apricot seeds are commonly enjoyed as a sweet treat, their bitter counterparts may have high amounts of amygdalin. This compound, also known as Laetrile, has been linked to cyanide poisoning, especially when taken in excess.
If you’re going to eat apricot seeds, pick the sweet variety to prevent the risk of toxicity. Also, be mindful of your dried apricots consumption.
While they are likewise packed with powerful nutrients, they also contain high amounts of calories and carbohydrates, which can raise blood sugar levels and cause weight gain.
Consume them in moderate amounts, and opt for the fresh fruit whenever possible. While there are only a few people suffering from fruit allergies, you may also want to be cautious if you are allergic to fresh produce.
If you aren’t aware of any allergies and experience symptoms after eating apricots, it’s best to discontinue your intake and visit your doctor for proper assessment and advice.
Apricots are a nutrient-dense fruit packed with essential nutrients and compounds, and amazing health perks. They can be enjoyed by people who want to lose weight as they are low in calories but high in fiber.
Just remember, though, that we are talking about the fresh fruit. The dried variety, while still rich in fiber and micronutrients, contains higher amounts of carbohydrates and calories, which may have an impact on blood sugar levels and weight.
It’s best to consume dried apricots in moderation to prevent any adverse effects on health and weight gain.
Apricots are undeniably delicious, and their tartness and sweetness make them a versatile addition to both sweet and savory dishes like baked goods, jams, entrees, and salsas.
You can take advantage of their versatility in a well-balanced diet, and reap the extensive health benefits they come with!