Apricots are small, golden orange coloured fruits belonging to the Rosaceae family of fruit trees which also include peaches, plums and nectarine. These fruits are generally available in summer season, though dried and canned apricots are available all the year round. Apricots have a velvety skin and flesh. They are not too juicy but have a smooth and sweet flavour which is slightly musky with a faint tartness somewhat similar to plums.
An apricot fruit comprises of a centrally located single seed surrounded by crunchy aromatic edible flesh. The seed is also edible and resembles almonds in taste and appearance. It is enclosed in a hard stony shell often called a “stone”. Oil extracted from these seeds is used in cooking.
Generally there are several varieties of apricots out of which one or two are available in your local supermarket or fruit stand. These small fruits are very versatile and can be enjoyed both fresh and dried though fresh ones have higher vitamin C content. Dried apricots are more long lasting and are generally preferred by dieters as a snack. Moreover, they are more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. Apart from being consumed as they are, these fruits are a delicacy that can be used in a number of ways and recipes.
Health Benefits of Apricot:
Apricots are as healthy as any other fruits like apples, pears, oranges or bananas. Besides, they can be excellent diet food as they are extremely low in calories and high in antioxidants and dietary fibre. Both fresh and dried apricots are equally beneficial due to their dense nutrient content. Here are apricot health benefits.
Apricots are rich in antioxidants which protect our bodies from free radicals and damage of cells. Free radicals are produced within the body due to pollution, UV rays and smoke. They hinder the normal process of cell growth, bringing about changes in DNA of the cells. This leads to the formation of cancer cells. Apricots are rich in vitamins A and C which are powerful antioxidants that fight cancer diseases and boost immune system. Moreover apricot seeds contain a compound called B17 that can fight cancer.
2. Remedy for Constipation:
Apricots contain high amount of pectin and cellulose which act as a mild laxative, thus helping in the treatment of constipation. Apricots are high in fibre which is vital for colon health and prevents constipation that might cause colon cancer. Fibres are also great for digestion and help balance the body’s metabolism.
3. Heart Health:
Apricots reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease as they are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and lycopene. These antioxidants reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), thus minimizing the risk of heart attack and improving heart health.
4. Treatment of Anaemia:
Apricot is a rich source of iron that plays an important role in the formation of blood. , thus improving blood flow and energy flow. Deficiency of iron can cause anaemia. Besides, apricot also contains small amounts of copper that enables the body to absorb iron. Thus, prolonged consumption of apricots helps in the production of haemoglobin which is very useful, particularly for women with heavy flow.
5. Aids in Weight Loss:
Apricots are rich in dietary fibre and low in calories. This makes them a suitable addition to weight loss program.
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6. Beneficial for Eyes:
Apricot is rich in vitamins A, C and E as well as carotenoids that reduce the risk of eye vision problems. Thus, they improve eye health and prevent macular degeneration.
7. Relieves Asthma:
Apricots have proved to be beneficial in relieving symptoms of asthma, tuberculosis and bronchitis.
8. Bone Health:
Apricots are rich in calcium which is vital for the formation and development of bones. Thus, eating apricots helps in maintaining bone health and prevents bone related problems.
9. Relieves Fever:
Apricots are beneficial during fever. You can prepare a liquid with apricot and water, and dilute it with a little honey. This will relieve thirst, fever and clean the system besides adding vitamins and minerals to the body.
10. Beneficial in Pregnancy:
Apricots are particularly beneficial for pregnant women as they contain vitamins A, C and E as well as minerals like phosphorus, silicon, calcium, iron and potassium. Pregnant women are often advised to consume dried apricots as they have a high iron content which is important for pregnant women to prevent anemia.
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11. Maintains Electrolyte Balance:
Apricots contain minerals like potassium and sodium which are vital for maintaining the balance of electrolyte levels. This is important for transportation of ions to every cells of the body. It also maintains fluid level which is important for muscle contraction. Thus, potassium and sodium help in maintaining electrolyte level.
Skin Benefits of Apricots:
Apricots are excellent sources of B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene which make them beneficial for your skin.
12. Heals Damaged Skin:
Apricot oil is obtained from the dried seeds of the fruit. Its skin softening effects can be attributed to its high content of vitamin C. This oil can treat a variety of skin conditions without making your skin oily. It is an excellent moisturizer for hair, face and hands and can cure damaged skin without undesirable side effects.
13. Reduces Wrinkles:
A scrub prepared from apricot kernels helps in getting rid of the old, dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and enables new skin cells to re-grow. This exfoliating action helps in getting rid of fine lines and small wrinkles by eliminating the damaged surface cells from the skin.
14. Maintains Skin Elasticity:
Apricot oil helps in maintaining skin clarity, suppleness and elasticity. It can be used with other fruit oils as facial mask to soften your skin. It is often used in aromatherapy massage due to its revitalizing and nourishing effects on the skin. Being very mild natural oil, it is used in baby products.
15. Removes Blackheads:
Apricot scrub deep cleanses the skin by removing dead skin cells and blackheads as well as unclogging pores. Thus, it keeps the skin smooth and radiant by stimulating fresh cell growth.
16. Treatment of Skin Disorders:
Being rich in vitamins C and A, apricot oil is great for sensitive skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties are effective for treatment of skin disorders like dermatitis and eczema. Apricot oil in combination with other essential oils has a soothing effect on skin disorders. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor before using it to avoid any adverse side effects. The flesh of apricots is beneficial in clearing acne. You can blend the leaves of apricot in a blender to get its juice. Applying it topically helps to get rid of itching caused by sunburn, eczema and scabies.
17. Removes Blemishes:
Apricot oil has proven to be useful in keeping pre-mature signs of ageing at bay. Apricot facial masks can be effective in eliminating skin blemishes without any side effects whatsoever.
18. Skin Moisturizer:
Apricot oil is great for dry, irritated skin because of its high content of essential fatty acids and vitamin A. Its moisturizing properties keep your skin cells hydrated and counteract any drying effects associated with exfoliating your skin, thus providing you with a healthier and softer skin surface.
19. Improves Skin Tone:
Apricot scrubs can help in improving your skin tone by exfoliating the damaged skin cells. Thus, they prevent pigmentation to reveal the newer and lighter skin cells beneath.
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Hair Benefits of Apricot:
The wide array of nutrients in apricots makes them beneficial for hair. Apricot oil can be used for this purpose for maintaining hair health. Some of the benefits of apricots for hair are given below.
20. Great Conditioner:
Apricot oil is packed with oleic and linoleic acids which can do wonders for your hair. Its high content of vitamins A and E makes it great for hydration and conditioning. This oil can be added to your shampoo or conditioner for extra softness as it has moisturizing effects when added to wet or dry hair. It is also used as treatment oil before chemical treatments.
21. Treatment of Scalp Problems:
Apricot oil contains vitamins A and E which support skin health and repair. Thus, it is a great home remedy for problems like dry scalp, psoriasis, dandruff and eczema. This oil restores moisture to dry or flaky scalp or dull and dry hair.
22. Promotes Hair Growth:
The vitamin E in apricot oil supports healthy hair growth and prevents hair loss. This vitamin in combination with fatty acids acts as a preservative by preventing damage by free radicals.
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Nutritional Value of Apricot:
Apricots (Prunus armeniaca), fresh,
Percentage of RDA
|Total Fat||0.4 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.240 mg||5%|
|Vitamin A||1926 IU||64%|
|Vitamin C||10 mg||16%|
|Vitamin E||0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin K||3.3 µg||3%|
Apricots are a very good source of vitamins A and C. They are also rich in dietary fibre and potassium. They contain phytochemicals called carotenoids which are responsible for imparting red, orange and yellow colours to fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant lycopene is one of the carotenoids contained in apricots. To sum up, apricots have a vast nutritional profile comprising of carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids and the like. Its nutritional profile is explained below.
Calories: Fresh apricots are low in calories, providing just 50 calories per 100 grams of weight which makes them ideal for weight loss.
Dietary Fibre: Driedapricots are rich in dietary fibre, particularly soluble fibre. This fibre dissolves into a gel like substance and binds to fatty acids to encourage their excretion in waste. Thus, it plays an important role in reducing LDL and total cholesterol levels. A half cup of dried fibre provides 19% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of dietary fibre.
Potassium: Both fresh and dried apricots are rich in potassium but dried apricots have a higher content of this mineral. Potassium, along with sodium, regulates the balance of intracellular and extracellular water levels, thus maintaining healthy blood pressure. Half a cup of dried apricots provides around 21% of RDA of potassium.
Iron: Fresh apricots contain small amounts of iron. Dried apricots have a comparatively higher content of this mineral. Like most plant based foods, the iron provided by apricots is non-heme iron which cannot be absorbed easily like heme iron provided by animal flesh. The best way is to consume it with sources of heme iron or vitamin C to increase its absorption capacity. Half a cup of dried apricots provides nearly 10% of RDA of iron.
Antioxidants: Dried apricots are high in antioxidants and other potent antioxidant phytonutrients. They have a high content of beta-carotene which makes them a rich source of vitamin A. Half a cup serving of dried apricots provides about 13.5% of RDA of vitamin A. The total antioxidant or ORAC value of raw apricots is 1115 umol TE per 100 grams. Much of this is provided by flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea xanthin and beta- crytoxanthin. These compounds provide protection against oxygen derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that cause ageing, cancers and other diseases. Zea xanthin is a carotenoid that is absorbed into the retinal “macula lutea” in the eyes, providing antioxidant and protective light filtering functions.
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