Apricots: Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Recipes
Apricots may be small, but they pack a punch in flavour and nutrition. These vitamin and mineral-rich yellow-orange fruits have a flavour that ranges from sweet to sweet-tart, depending on the type. They have a smooth exterior with soft fuzz, and their flesh is smooth and somewhat juicy when ripe. Not only the flavour, but apricots also bring several health benefits. For example, they are suitable for the skin, help prevent cancer, anaemia and many other health-related issues.
Prunus armeniaca (apricot) originated in China some 4,000 years ago. This delightful stone fruit was popular among residents, traders, and travellers. So it’s no surprise that it began its journey west along the Silk Road. Over time, it started expanding across Central Asia and the Middle East. There are numerous apricot types to choose from, with the most popular being Blenheim, Tilton, and Moorpark.
Types of Apricot 1. Moorpark Apricot
Moorpark apricots are huge fruits with vivid, golden orange skin. These apricots resemble peaches and are sweet and juicy, with a plum-like flavour. Moorpark apricots are high in vitamins A and C and B-complex vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.
2. Blenheim Apricot
The Blenheim apricot is a tiny fruit with a green shoulder that ripens inside. It never reaches the full apricot colour. However, it has a full apricot flavour. The sweet aromatic flavour of this ancient favourite sets the benchmark. The flesh is quite juicy and orange. It is well-known in California for its canning quality; it is also suitable for drying. During flowering, it requires warm, dry conditions.
3. Tilton Apricot
Tilton apricots are heart-shaped and have a “suture” line that runs halfway around the fruit. The hue is stunning, a bright golden with pink blush undertones. In addition, the Tilton Apricot Tree has an outstanding feature: it is frost resistant. As a result, this tree is well-suited to areas prone to late spring frosts and adapts well to various soil types.
You can use the Tilton apricot in multiple ways, from enjoying fresh fruit salads to canning. They also help produce delicious jams and jellies for desserts.
4. Gold Bar Apricot
It has vivid yellow-orange colour with a red tinge on the skin. It is huge in size, with a spherical to oval shape on the top and sides and a compact shape on the bottom. The fruit’s flesh is exceptionally succulent.
5. Tomcot Apricot
It has a diameter of 5.4 cm and an oval shape, making it a medium-to-large fruit. The fruit’s skin is a pale orange colour. This fruit has a light orange flesh with a sweet taste. It is not suitable for canning.
Nutritional Value of Apricot
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one 35 g fresh apricot has the following:
- Energy – 17 calories
- Protein – 0.5 gram
- Fat – 0.15 gram
- Carbohydrates – 3.9 grams
- Fiber – 0.7 gram
- Sugar – 3.23 grams
Health Benefits of Apricot 1. Good for Skin
Antioxidants in apricots, such as vitamin E and vitamin C, are well known for their skin-boosting qualities. They can help to protect skin cells from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, prevent the appearance of early wrinkles, and improve skin suppleness. Beta-carotene is another antioxidant in apricots that protects the skin from sunburns and other UV damage.
Apricots are also an excellent food that helps moisturise your skin with high water content. One cup of apricots contains around two-thirds cup of water.
2. Protects Eyesight
Apricots are high in vitamin A, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids, making them ideal for eye health. Lutein promotes retinal and lens health, whereas carotenoids and vitamin E improve general eyesight. These nutrients are also beneficial in lowering the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
In a study of over 50,000 registered nurses, researchers discovered that women who consumed the most vitamin A had a 40% lower risk of developing cataracts. One apricot (approximately 35 grams) contains 33.6mg of vitamin A, which is about 5% of your required daily intake of vitamin A.
3. May Cure Fever
Apricot juice is usually administered to feverish patients because it provides the body with essential vitamins, minerals, calories, and water. At the same time, it helps to detoxify various organs. Apricots’ soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities can also affect the body’s overall temperature when you are unwell. It can also help reduce inflammation in other body parts, especially beneficial for individuals suffering from arthritis or gout.
4. May treat Anemia
Apricots contain iron and copper, which aid in synthesising haemoglobin. As a result, it aids in the treatment of anaemia. Anaemia is an iron shortage that can cause weakness, weariness, lightheadedness, digestive problems, and overall metabolic malfunction. In addition, it leads to inadequate red blood cells. Without red blood cells, the body cannot effectively reoxygenate itself, and organ systems begin to malfunction. Iron and copper are essential for the creation of red blood cells. Apricots are a rich source of iron and copper, making them an excellent tool for boosting metabolism and keeping the body healthy.
5. Helps Prevent Cancer
Apricot seeds are beneficial in the treatment of cancer. Several studies directly link apricot consumption to a decreased risk of cancer.
With their carotenoids and other antioxidant chemicals, it’s unsurprising that apricots are a hazard to free radicals. Free radicals are harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can transform healthy cells into cancerous cells by mutating their DNA. Antioxidants operate as a buffer against these dangerous substances, preventing the body from contracting cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and skin ageing.
6. Protects Liver
According to some research, apricots may help protect the liver from oxidative damage.
In two animal investigations, rats given alcohol plus apricots showed lower liver enzymes and inflammatory markers levels than those given alcohol but no apricots. It suggests that it may help prevent liver damage because of their naturally high antioxidant content.
7. Strengthens Bones
Apricots may contain nearly all minerals required for bone growth, such as calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and copper. Therefore, consuming apricots can help maintain your bones’ proper growth and development. In addition, it also helps prevent numerous age-related bone problems, such as osteoporosis and brittle bone disease.
8. Improves Gut Health
Apricots are high in fibre, which contributes to improved gut health. It promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut while also improving digestion. Apricots include both dietary and soluble fibre, making them easy to digest and contributing to a healthy digestive system.
9. High in Potassium
Apricots are abundant in potassium, a mineral that functions as an electrolyte. It is in charge of delivering nerve messages, regulating muscle contractions, and maintaining fluid equilibrium in your body.
Two apricots (70 grams) contain 181 mg of this mineral, 4% of the DV. Since potassium works in tandem with salt to maintain fluid balance, an adequate intake may aid in the prevention of bloating and the maintenance of healthy blood pressure.
A study of 33 trials discovered that a potassium-rich diet considerably decreased blood pressure and resulted in a 24% lower risk of stroke.
Ways to Consume Apricots
Apricots are perfectly safe to eat raw. After cleaning the fruit, cut it in half and remove the stone from the centre.
Apricots, both fresh and dried, are a delightful addition to yoghurt or porridge, which may be served for breakfast or as a snack.
According to several studies, freezing or canning apricots has no negative impact on the nutritional value of the fruit. So, you may enjoy it however you like. The study further suggests that people eating canned or frozen apricots can feel confident of similar or superior nutritional content than fresh apricots.
Recipes 1. Apricot Cake
Preparation Time – 10 minutes
Cooking Time – 35 minutes
Serves – 10
- Apricots fresh or canned – 1 cup
- Dates, pitted – 1 cup
- Whole wheat flour/ Coconut flour – 0.75 cup
- Almond flour – 1 cup
- Apple juice – 1 cup
- Vanilla essence – 1/2 tsp
- Lemon zest – 1 tsp
- Cut apricots and dates into small pieces, and mix together in a bowl with the flour, almond meal and lemon rind.
- Make a hole in the middle, pour the apple juice and the vanilla essence and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into a cake tin lined with baking paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius for 30 -35 minutes, or until golden.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.
2. Easy Apricot Canapes
These sweet and savoury bites are like a mini cheese course.
Total time – 5 minutes
Serves – 16 people (1 each)
- Dried apricots – 16
- Blue cheese or Feta cheese (crumbled) – 8 teaspoons
- Pistachios (chopped) – 0.25 cup
- Honey – ½ teaspoon
- Freshly ground pepper
- Top each apricot with ½ teaspoon cheese.
- Garnish with pistachios and honey, and then sprinkle pepper on top.
- Yummy treats are ready to serve.
3. Apricot Strawberry Smoothie
This smoothie has just the right amount of sweet-tart flavour, and the strawberries nicely complement the delicious apricot flavour. It is a healthy, energy-boosting drink high in vitamins A and C and fibre.
- Coconut water, or filtered water (cold) – 1 cup
- Strawberries (hulled) – 1 cup
- Apricots (pitted) – 2 cups
- Pineapple (frozen) – 1 cup
- Flaxseed oil – 1 teaspoon (optional – adds a nice punch of Omega 3)
- Add ingredients in order listed and blend until smooth.
- Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Apricot: Probable Side Effects 1. Digestive problems
Though apricots are good for digestion and digestive health, they are also high in fructose. Too much fructose causes the release of hydrogen and methane gases, which cause pain, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea. Therefore, overeating can give you a tummy ache. In addition, consuming too many might cause constipation and digestive issues. So, try not to consume too many apricots.
If you consume an excessive amount of apricots, you may experience nausea and a tendency to vomit. Unfortunately, it is a rather typical that it has side effect, and the key is to consume apricots in moderation to reduce the risk of developing this condition.
Like most fruits and vegetables, apricots are a good source of many vitamins and minerals that our systems require to function. They are relatively high in vitamins A and C, dietary fibre, and potassium.
You can eat raw or dried apricots. The nutritional content of the fruit does not diminish by freezing or canning it. However, to retain the fruit as a healthy addition to the diet, you should search for canned fruit in water rather than syrup. Apricots’ benefits make them an excellent addition to a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Q. What are the side effects of apricot?
A. Although apricot is highly beneficial, overeating can lead to some side effects. Apricot side effects include nausea and digestive issues such as constipation and stomach aches.
Q. When is the best time to eat apricot?
A. Apricot is an excellent snack for the mid-morning or evening because they have a fair amount of fibre. In addition, they are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
Q. Can an apricot increase weight?
A. No, apricots are low in calories and will not make you gain weight. It will instead help you manage weight because it is a rich source of fibre. As a result, it improves your gut health. Low calories and good gut health are vital for weight management. But don’t forget moderation is the key even for healthy foods.
Q. What are the benefits of dried apricots?
A. Dried apricots have several health benefits. For example, it helps your body absorb more nutrients, improves bone mineral density and promotes gut health. In addition, it promotes eye health, helps reduce blood pressure and may treat anaemia.
Q. Can we eat apricots at night?
A. Eating apricots before late evening may help regulate your sleep cycle because it contains melanin, a sleep regulatory hormone. In addition, it contains potassium and magnesium, which have a calming effect. However, avoid eating dried apricots at night because the low water content of dried fruit might induce digestive troubles such as gas and cramps.
Q. Is Apricot good for skin?
A. Yes, apricots contain antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C that improve skin texture. In addition, apricots have high water content. Therefore it is an excellent way to hydrate your skin.
Q. Do apricots give you gas?
A. Yes, eating dried apricots may cause gas. It is because they contain sugar in the form of fructose. Overconsumption of fructose and sorbitol may lead to digestive issues. Our intestines cannot easily digest these compounds and may cause digestive problems.
Q. Do apricots help you lose weight?
A. Although there is no direct connection between apricots and weight loss, they are high in fibre and low in calories, making them suitable for weight loss. In addition, they are a low-calorie food, which makes them an excellent addition to your weight loss diet.
Q. Do apricots boost metabolism?
A. Yes, apricots are rich in potassium, magnesium and iron. Including these minerals in your diet enhances your metabolism because they are metabolism-enhancing nutrients and energise your body.
Q. Are apricots high in sugar?
A. No, apricots are not high in sugar. According to the USDA, one fresh apricot contains only three grams of sugar. Therefore, they are a great choice when you’re looking to switch up your fruit routine while still snacking on something tasty and healthy.
Q. Can diabetics eat apricots?
A. Yes, apricots are high in fibre, which helps manage blood sugar. Apricots also have a low glycemic index. As a result, it has a slow and steady effect on blood sugar levels. In addition, the fruit is high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that reduces blood sugar.
Q. Is apricot good for fatty liver?
A. Yes, apricot consumption may minimise the risk of liver steatosis and free radical damage. That is because of the antioxidant nutrient (beta-carotene and vitamin) contents and the high radical-scavenging capacity of apricots.
Q. What happens if you eat too many apricots?
A. Excess consumption of apricots can lead to vomiting, sweating, faintness, giddiness, and losing consciousness. The symptoms result from excess fructose, leading to insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes. Therefore, the adequate consumption of apricots should be 30-50 grams per day.
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