Apriccot is a fruit of the apricot tree and is from prunus family. Its origin is Armenia and so it has the name ‘prunus Armenia’. The fruit also has ancient Greece and Rome as places of origin. Even though its origin is disputable, early cultivation of apricots was by Armenia, China and India.
Apricot are also known a stone fruit because of the very hard, stone like single seed inside the fruit. The tree is grown in many parts of the world in regions with continental and Mediterranean climate suitable for the growth of the trees. Apricots are seasonal fruits with small duration and hence you can consume raw fruits only during that short season. However you can sours the kernels and dry fruits throughout the year. The nutrient value of kernels and dry fruits are more significant than the fresh fruits. All forms of apricots are beneficial to the health.
100 gm. dried apricot provides 214 calories of energy,63gm. carbohydrates, sugar 53gm. dietary fiber7gm.,fat 0.5gm. Protein 3.4gm. It contains lot of vitamins and minerals.
It contains Vitamin A 180 mg (23% of RDA), beta-carotene 2163 mg (20%RDA), vitamin E 4.33 mg (29%RDA), VitaminB 143 mg (11% RDA), Niacin B3 (17% RDA) 2.589 mg of Pantothenic acid has 0.516mg (10% RDA), Riboflavin 0.074mg (6% RDA) and very small amounts of thiamine, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K.
Apricots, dried weighing 100 gm contain potassium 1162 mg (25% RDA), iron 2.66 mg (20% RDA) manganese 0.235mg (11% RDA), phosphorous 71 mg (10% RDA), magnesium 32 mg (9% RDA), calcium 35 mg (6% RDA), zinc 0.29mg (3% RDA) and sodium 10 mg (1% RDA).
Health benefits of Apricots
Even as the fruits, both fresh and dried are used as food items the health benefits derived from them are enormous. In addition, quite a large number of antioxidants are present in apricot, each of which provides distinct health benefit.
They are – quercetin, proanthocyanidins, catechin,epicatechin,hydroxycinnamics, gallic acid, caffeic acid, coumanic acid, ferulic acid, lutein, zea-xanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin
The high amount of potassium, good amount of vitamin C and dietary fiber improves cardiovascular health. While vitamin C eliminates free radicals, potassium helps in reducing blood pressure. Potassium also facilitates relaxation of the blood vessels and arteries. Dietary fiber reduces cholesterol level from the walls of the arteries and vessels. All of these together help minimize the strain for the heart. The electrolytes are balanced by the potassium in apricot thereby improving the effective functioning of the heart. Moreover, the antioxidants fight the weakness and heart related diseases.
Iron deficiency in the body causes anemia due to decrease in haemoglobin level in the blood. Apricots contain 2.66 mg of iron which is equal to 20% of RDA in 100 gm. of dried fruit. The general weakness and fatigue that sets in the body comes down due to the iron in apricot. This enhances metabolism and overall strength of the body. This is more beneficial for pregnant women since they need more blood to take of the unborn child.
High content of dietary fiber in apricot relieves the gastrointestinal problems. The fat soluble retinol in apricot is easily absorb-able by the body. This happens by breaking down the fatty acids to enable functioning of the digestive system.
Potassium is an essential mineral to maintain the appropriate level of calcium in the body. Potassium present in apricot regulates the absorption of calcium and the distribution of calcium to various parts. It also facilitates excretion of the excess calcium in the body. Though calcium is a must for bone development, its distribution is vital to improve bone strength and prevent osteoporosis.
The rich antioxidant contents in apricot eliminates the free radicals from the body and consequently prevents many types of cancers in lungs, esophagus and larynx. The antioxidants in apricot kernels are known to prevent cancerous growth of cells with no side effects.
Vitamin A and beta carotene in apricots prevents macular degeneration in the eyes of elderly people which is the reason for their loss of vision. Apricots protects the ophthalmic health.
Phytonutrients, vitamin A and C and the antioxidants in apricot slows down the aging process by protecting the skin with quick reproduction of dead cells. It removes the wrinkles and keep the skin healthy.
Apricots can maintain electrolyte balance. It gives a full feeling of the stomach without increase in food intake. This reduces calories intake and prevents gaining weight by the body.
How to consume apricots
Fresh apricot fruits are consumed as a whole with the skin intact and kernels removed to derive the maximum health benefits. Fresh fruits can be refrigerated and eaten as early as possible. Fresh fruits are used in salads and jams.
Sun dried apricots are available throughout the year in markets. You can eat these as such or use as raisins in the preparation of confectionery and sweets.
For a longer shelf life, producers treat apricots with sulfites due to which a bleaching reaction takes place. This results in the fruit obtaining the bright orange color.
The oil extracted from the apricot nuts are also used in some treatments. However the usefulness of the oil for various health benefit is still under research to make it more acceptable.
Of you suffer from bronchitis or asthma,use only un-sulfured apricots as sulfites are can aggravate these problems.