Apricots are the yellowish-orange fruits that belong to the family of Rosacea. Other fruits that belong to the same family are peach, pear and apple. In appearance and size, Apricots are small in size. They are covered with a velvet-like skin which is smooth in its texture. Apricot is available and consumed in both fresh as well as dried forms. Both are equally nutritious in their content. In their unripe forms, they are still green in colour and they turn to a golden yellow or orange once they start ripening. They are usually available in the summer seasons. If they are available in other seasons, it means that it has been dried and canned. They are juicy and sweet and have a musky, faint tartness in their taste.
Apricots are grown in many countries of the world. They are most popular in countries of North America, South America and New
Zealand. Apricots are highly rich in nutritional content. A single, fresh apricot of an average size provides you with 4.6% of Vitamin C, 3.7% of Vitamin A, 3.3% of Copper, 2.7% of Fibres, 2.5% of Potassium and just 17 calories! It is closely related to peach and plum in the way it tastes.
Apricot Health Benefits
1. Is good for your eyes
Many studies have shown that consuming apricots is highly beneficial for your ophthalmic health. Consuming two or three servings of apricots in a day has shown to be beneficial in the cure of age-related Macular Degeneration. Macular degeneration is a disorder of the eye and is one of the major causes of loss of sight in older people. It also helps in strengthening the optic nerves in your eyes.
Another major illness called Neovascular ARMD is also less probable of affecting you if consistently consume apricots. The carotenoids and the various vitamins present in apricots are the ingredients that reduce the risk of developing Neovascular ARMD.
Two or three servings might seem like too much of the fruit, but adding it once in every meal is the way you can reach this goal. Just toss a few slices in your morning breakfast cereal or add it to your milkshake. Sometimes, when you are in need of a snack in between meals, just eat a few pieces of apricots.
2. Rich source of antioxidants
Apricots when ripened naturally are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are required by the body to aid the body’s natural functioning. The higher the amount of antioxidants in the body, the higher the rate of elimination of toxins in the body. Toxins are harmful substances that accumulate in the intestines and the digestive tract. Apricots have the capacity to increase the production of antioxidants. They are also rich in carotenoids and other strong antioxidant phytonutrients. Apricots are also rich in vitamin A content due to the presence of high levels of beta-carotene content. Vitamin A is also helpful as an antioxidant. Its presence is useful for the growth of the cells in the body, helps in improving the functioning of the immune system and as well as in maintaining optic health. Because of its benefits provided to the immune system, it implies that there is an improvement in the overall health of the human body. A person who consumes more apricots is less prone to a variety of infections and disorders.
3. High Fibre Content
Dried apricots are one of the best sources of dietary fibre. Though fibres are generally good for the human body, apricots contain a special kind of fibre that is even more beneficial. They contain the rich soluble fibre that is easy to dissolve. It melts into a gel-like substance and helps in breaking down fatty acids. Once fatty acids are broken down, they help in the excretion of digested food particles and in the easy bowel movement.
The high amount of dietary fibre also helps in keeping you safe from gastro-intestinal disorders. Not only does it help in breaking down food particles, but it also helps in absorbing nutrients from the food.
4. Healthy for your heart
The high amount of soluble fibres is also beneficial to the heart health. How does this happen? The high fibre content is useful in reducing the LDL or bad cholesterol content in the body, thus lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, it also helps you increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. Consuming just half a cup of apricots every day is useful and beneficial to the health of your heart.
Fruits like apricots and those belonging to the same family are high in potassium contain. High levels of potassium are extremely beneficial to your body. When potassium combines with sodium or salt, it regulates the water levels within and between cells. A good amount of potassium is also required to keep the blood pressure level stable. Deficiency of potassium is known to be deterrent to the body as it increases the possibility of developing hypertension. Hypertension, in its most severe forms can lead to the possibility of heart attacks. Eating half a cup of apricots is enough to give you a whopping 21% of your required potassium intake every day.
6. Non-heme Iron
Though most fruits in the family of plums contain a significant amount of iron, the best among them is undoubtedly apricots. All those plant items that contain iron contain the type that is called Non-heme iron. Most of the dry fruits contain this type of iron. This speciality of this type of iron is that it is not easily absorbed by the body. By doing this, the amount of iron stays for a longer period of time in the body and is more efficient when it is absorbed slowly. For better absorption, however, one can consume this with any other sources of Vitamin C.
The iron content in apricots is helpful in preventing you from developing anaemia. Anaemia is a disorder of the blood wherein it contains a lower level of Red Blood Corpuscles and hence, a lower level of haemoglobin content in the body. It is often characterized by dizziness, weakness, fatigue, nausea and inability to carry out day to day activities. According to the World Health Organization, it is one of the most severe form of nutritional disorders in the whole world. Young girls and women, especially are more prone to developing anaemia than men because they lose blood every month during menstruation. Loss of blood also indicates loss of iron content and nutrients.
The rich levels of antioxidants in apricots is helpful in lowering your risk of developing cancer. How does this happen? Antioxidants in the body are proven to keep the body free from free radicals. Free radicals in the body are harmful. They are produced in the body due to environmental pollution, ultra violet rays of the sun and the smoke. Free radicals inhabit the natural course of cell growth. Thus, antioxidants are beneficial in the helping to increase the process of cell growth. It thus saves the body from many different types of cancers, including cancers of the lungs, oesophagus and the larynx.
8. Skin benefits
The high level of antioxidants that are present in apricots are beneficial not only in avoiding cancer and aiding the process of cell growth, but it is also highly valuable for maintaining skin health. The antioxidants in apricots reduce the risk of ageing and help to make the skin appear taut and shining. The good level of Vitamin A content also ensures that the skin is free from acne and other such problems.
9. Helps you lose weight
The high amount of dietary fibre that the apricot fruit is gifted with is useful for those people who are looking forward to lose a few kilos. The high fibre content improves the digestive and excretory systems in the body and helps improve the rate of metabolism. Not only this, the fruit contains extremely low amount of calories. So one can easily consume a good quantity of apricots without the fear of putting on weight.
10. Treats asthma
The antioxidants lower the amount of impurities that the system can take in. The harmful free radicals are suppressed and thus any form of pollution from the environment is taken care of by consuming apricots. Asthma is a disorder of the lungs which is marked by weak lungs and the inability to breathe well. Keep away the pollutants, eat apricots and stay free from asthma!
11. Strengthens your bones
Apricots are rich in calcium content. Calcium is required by the body in bone formation and bone development. Lack of calcium leads to a disorder of the bones called Osteoporosis. The high calcium content is thus beneficial in the keeping of bone health and saves you from brittle bones.
12. Electrolyte content
Proper functioning of the cells requires a good maintenance of the electrolyte levels in the body. Electrolyte is required for transporting ions from every cell to every other cell in the body. It also maintains a stable fluid level which is necessary for proper expansion and contraction of the muscles. Apricots contain a great level of potassium and sodium. These are required by the body and help in the carrying out of all the above-mentioned functions.
History of Apricots
Apricots were basically first grown in China, but due to trade commerce, their production moved even to Europe through Armenia. This explains the scientific name of the plant – Prunus Armenaica. They came to America in the eighteenth century. The weather conditions of the United States are well-suited for the growth of Apricots.
Not only are they consumed in their fresh and dried forms, they are also used in making pastries, jams and marmalades. Sometimes, these fruits are also used in the form of brandy and liqueur. A rare form of oil is also distilled from the pit of the peach fruits. They are also sold as bitter almond oil. Some of the leading producers of apricots in the world are Italy, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Greece, France and the United States.