Apricots may be small, but they’re big on both flavor and nutrition. These yellow-orange fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, with a flavor ranging from sweet to sweet-tart, depending on the variety. The flesh of apricots is soft and somewhat juicy when ripe, and they have a velvety skin with soft fuzz.
Prunus armeniaca originated in China, where it was first cultivated about 4,000 years ago. This delicious stone fruit held high favor with locals, traders, and travelers, so it’s no surprise that it began its journey west along the Silk Road. Over time, apricots began growing across Central Asia and the Middle East.
Apricots reached the Mediterranean about 2,000 years ago, where they flourished in the warm, sunny climate. Today, Turkey and Iran are the world’s largest producer of apricots.
There are many different apricot varieties to enjoy, the most popular being Blenheim, Tilton, and Moorpark.
Apricots are small, yellow, tart-tasting fruits with a stone in the middle.
Like most fruits, they are full of vitamins and minerals and make a great addition to a healthful diet.
This article lists four potential health benefits of apricots, takes a look at their nutritional value, and suggests a few ways in which people can add the fruit to their diet.
Nutrients per Serving
One whole, fresh apricot contains:
- Calories: 17
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: 3 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 0 milligrams
Apricots are low in fat but rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. These nutrients act as antioxidants to protect your cells from damage.
Apricots are also a good source of flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps to protect against inflammation and inflammatory illnesses, along with reducing your risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The main flavonoids in apricots are catechin, quercetin, and chlorogenic acids.
Fresh apricots contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Pantothenic Acid (B5)
- Vitamin E
Health BenefitsExperts recommend that people eat lots of fruits and vegetables, since they are high in the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to thrive.
Good for Your HeartGiven that the fruit is high on fiber content, it helps to reduce the bad cholesterol content in the body, and that means your heart is protected. And at the same time, it increases the good cholesterol. Plus the potassium content in the fruit balances the electrolyte levels in our system, keeping our heart muscles in order. All you have to do is eat one or two fresh apricots every day, or a handful of dried ones.
May Be Rich in FiberAs per research in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, apricots may be rich in fiber and are, therefore, good for smooth bowel movements. Fiber is a way to bulk up the stool. In this way, it may become easier to transport through the bowels to its eventual excretion from the body. Fiber stimulates the gastric and digestive juices that help absorb the nutrients and break down the food for easier processing. Furthermore, fiber also activates the peristaltic motion of the digestive tract, and those smooth muscle movements are what keep your bowel movements regulated. Therefore, apricots may often be recommended to those patients who regularly suffer from constipation due to their laxative properties.
May Strengthen BonesApricots may have nearly all the minerals necessary for bone growth like calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and copper. Therefore, eating apricots can ensure the healthy growth and development of your bones, as well as the prevention of various age-related bone conditions, including osteoporosis.
May Boost MetabolismFluid levels throughout the body are dependent mainly on two minerals, potassium, and sodium. The high amounts of potassium in apricots can be linked to maintaining fluid balance in the body, and ensuring that energy is properly distributed to the organs and muscles. By maintaining a healthy balance of electrolytes, you might have more energy, reduce cramping, and keep blood and usable energy pumping through your body as you need it.
They may help support weight lossAbout 12% of the starch in sweet potatoes is resistant starch, a filling, fiber-like substance your body doesn’t digest and absorb. One study found that replacing just 5.4% of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch resulted in a 20 to 30% increase in fat burning after a meal. Resistant starch also prompts the body to pump out more satiety-inducing hormones.
May Relieve EarachesApricot oil may be good for earaches, although the exact mechanism is still being studied. Dripping a few drops into the affected ear canal is said to be a quick home remedy. However, check with your health care provider to ensure this is a safe treatment to do at home.
May Reduce FeverApricot juice may be often given to patients suffering from fever because it might provide necessary vitamins, minerals, calories, and water to the body, while also detoxifying various organs. Some people may also use steamed apricot to relieve fevers.
May Have Anti-inflammatory PropertiesIt may have anti-inflammatory properties that can also impact the body’s overall temperature level in sickness. Furthermore, it might help reduce inflammation in other parts of the body, especially for people suffering from arthritis or gout.
May Help Treat Skin DisordersBitter apricot oil may be an effective topical treatment for skin conditions like eczema, scabies, psoriasis, and rashes. It might be rich in gamma linoleic acid, or GLA, which comes from essential fatty acid omega-6 and vitamins E, B1, B2, B6, and A. According to a 2018 report published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the oil may also be a pro-apoptotic factor for human keratinocytes.
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May Aid In Anemia Treatment
Dried apricots may be a good source of iron and copper. If you are suffering from anemia, you can include them in your diet to boost your iron levels. Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) can lead to weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, digestive issues, and general metabolic dysfunction. Without red blood cells, the body can’t reoxygenate itself properly, and organ systems may begin to malfunction. Iron is a key part of red blood cell formation, as is copper.
Word of Caution: Some people may be allergic to dried apricots. Sulfites, present in most dried foods, can trigger an asthmatic attack. Also, you should avoid eating the seeds or kernels because they can cause cyanide poisoning in some people.
How to Choose and Prepare Apricots
California apricots have a short growing season, typically from May to August. When in season, they are in abundant supply in grocery stores, farmers markets, and roadside produce stalls. Off-season apricots are likely to come from South America.
When you look at the apricots for sale, choose ones with even coloring in a dark golden orange or reddish-orange tone. Pale yellow or yellow-green apricots are underripe and won’t have much flavor. Take care not to choose overripe apricots. These ones wrinkle easily and may mash during transport.
You can enjoy fresh apricots in many ways, including eaten by hand. You can also add them to recipes as garnish or incorporate them into a variety of dishes.
Here are a few apricot recipes to try out:
- Enjoy an apricot cobbler or crisp.
- Poach apricot halves with fresh vanilla bean.
- Bake a tart with apricot and pistachio.
- Combine fresh apricot jam with red pepper flakes for a spicy-sweet sauce over chicken.
- Top French toast with apricot compote.
- Drizzle apricot glaze onto baked ham.
Create a pasta salad with chicken, apricots, almonds, vegetables, and lemon dressing.
The Bottom Line
Apricots are a delicious fruit packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. They have multiple benefits, including improved eye, skin, and gut health.
Fresh or dried, apricots are easy to add to yogurt, salads, and main meals.
If you’re used to eating peaches and plums, apricots can be a great way to change up your routine.
People can eat apricots either raw or dried. Freezing or canning the fruit does not reduce its nutritional value. However, to keep the fruit a healthful addition to the diet, people should look for canned fruit in water, not syrup.