Apricots may be small but, they are packed with nutrients and health benefits.
Don’t let their tiny size fool you. Apricots are low in fat, have lots of fiber and are packed with essential vitamins, so let’s learn more about this small powerfood and why they are a great addition to your diet.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
We need antioxidants to protect our bodies from the damage caused by free radicals. Health experts believe this damage may be what instigates the development of cancer, heart disease and other diseases.
The best way to get the most antioxidants from apricots is to choose a fully ripe apricot.
2. Protection From Colon Cancer
When a study investigated the effects of the Japanese apricot (Prunus mume) extract against colon cancer, they found that it helped the malignant cells to self-destruct.
3. Protects Eyesight Better Than Carrots
Apricots did a better job of keeping eyesight healthy than carrots as stated in Prevent Disease. They found in the Archives of Opthalmology, a study stating that people eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day lowered the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Apricots are rich in the carotenoids (vitamin A) and xanthophylls nutrients which are helpful in protecting eyesight from damage.
4. Good for Digestion and Preventing Constipation
They are a good source of dietary fiber whether they are fresh or dried. Just two apricots will give you almost 10 percent of the daily quantity of fiber required and one dried apricot provides 12 percent.
The Japanese apricot dried was found to be very helpful in this area.
5. Helpful for Earaches
The oil from apricot seeds is used for ear aches, but more research is needed. Scientists believe that it is the antioxidants in the apricot oil that helps.
6. Protection Against Heart Disease
Apricots are rich in antioxidants, including polyphenolic antioxidants like flavonoids. It has been found that when a diet is rich in flavonoids and the other types of polyphenols found in apricots, there is a decrease in heart disease.
One cup of raw apricots is only about 74 calories.
One ounce of dried apricots provides over one million grams of beta-carotene which supplies 20 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement. Do note that dried apricots are over 40 percent sugar!
They are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber. Learn all about fresh apricot nutrients.
Please Note: Dried apricots are often treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color and nutrients. For some, this may create an asthma attack or allergic reaction. Only eat dried apricots that are labeled as sulfate-free; organic ones will not contain sulfites because regulations prohibit the use of preservatives in organic foods.
Picking the Best Apricots
The prime time to get your fresh apricots is when they are in season, and it is a very short season. I always make sure I get them at my favorite farmer’s market stall the first time I see them, and up here in Canada it is the beginning of July. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is (approximately mid-May to July/August) depending on where you live. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is from November to January.
Select firm apricots which are plump, slightly soft and are a deep orange or yellow/orange color, not a pale yellow color. Small ones are usually the tastiest as they have not been over watered to make them grow larger. When apricots are ripe they need to be handled with care as they are very delicate. Ones that are too firm haven’t been tree-ripened, and tree-ripened fruit always tastes the best and are full of the most antioxidants.
As they bruise easily, pick fruit that is unblemished. Overripe bruised apricots are very good for sauces and tasty in baking. I often get bruised fruit at a bargain price at my local farmer’s market so keep your eyes open for them. Do remember to use overripe ones immediately.
How to Store
Store ripe ones in a refrigerator in a sealed container keeping them separated up to one week. They must be ripe first, as they will not ripen in the refrigerator.
To ripen them place in a paper bag out of direct light, keeping them at room temperature until they have softened a little (usually within 2 – 3 days).