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What Makes Dried Apricots Beneficial For Your Health? Can Anybody Eat Them?

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN
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What Makes Dried Apricots Beneficial For Your Health? Can Anybody Eat Them? Hyderabd040-395603080 July 11, 2019

Dried fruits and nuts are a part of various traditional meals in the world. They have been incorporated in contemporary diet plans like the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterranean (MedDiet) diets. In this article, we’ll be exploring one such popular dried fruit – dried apricot.

Dried apricots, like their fresh counterparts, are powerhouses of nutrition. They contain fiber, minerals, vitamins, and essential phytochemicals. They also possess excellent texture and are known for their therapeutic benefits.

Want to know how dried apricots can be healthy? Well, you have to keep reading!

How Are Dried Apricots Made? Are They Healthy?

Dried apricots (Prunus americana Lam.) are obtained from drying the apricot fruits. The process involves evaporating the water content of the fruits without harming or reducing their nutritive value (1).

Dried apricots are rich in calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and E.

These dried fruits are energy dense too. One cup of halved dried apricots gives you about 313 kcal of energy, while 66 g of polished rice gives you only 222 kcal (2). Having them as an evening snack can offer several health benefits.

The apricots have a glycemic index (GI) of 30, which is quite low (3). They help control blood sugar and can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Dried apricots can also improve your vision and bone strength.

However, there is more to dried apricots than what we have discussed until now. The following section will give you more insight.

What Are The Benefits Of Having Dried Apricots?

As discussed, dried apricots are rich in iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Adding them to your routine can help manage anemia, disorders of blood clotting, and diseases of the heart, eye, and skin.

1. Help Treat Anemia

In anemia, your blood lacks an adequate supply of healthy red blood cells (RBCs). This occurs due to deficiency of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying molecule in the blood).

Hemoglobin shortage occurs due to iron deficiency (4).

Severe blood loss, being on an iron-deficit diet, or an inability to absorb iron can cause anemia. Pregnant and menstruating women are at a higher risk of anemia (4).

Consuming iron-rich foods is the best way to reverse anemia. Dried apricots are very good sources of iron. Also, the vitamin C they contain further enhances iron absorption (4), (5).

2. Relieve Constipation

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Dietary fiber increases stool bulk and accelerates its movement through the colon (6).

When fiber is fermented in the intestine, it produces short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate, etc.). These alter the gut microbiome (microorganism) by decreasing the luminal pH. This further improves stool consistency, quantity, and mobility – thereby treating constipation (6).

Dried prunes, plums, and apricots are excellent choices for treating constipation. Eight pieces of dried apricots have about four grams of fiber (7). Their phytochemicals may also reduce the intestinal inflammation caused by constipation.

Along with medication, supplementing the diet with fiber-rich apricots can relieve constipation in both the young and the old (6).

3. Improve Glycemic Control And Diabetes

Dried fruits, like apricots, raisins, and dates, have a low glycemic index. They can displace other carbohydrate sources for better glycemic control. Their high fiber can be attributed to this effect (3).

Moderate amounts of fructose from dried fruits (including dried apricots) may help control postprandial glucose levels. So, having them as a snack will not cause sudden spikes in your blood glucose levels (8).

Dried apricots contain phytochemicals like phenolic acids, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These, along with the fiber, work together to reduce the risk of diabetes.

But keep in mind the portion sizes. Owing to their small size, it is easy to consume too many of them and pile on unnecessary calories (8),(9).

Good News!

Replacing unhealthy snacks with dried apricots might help weight loss. They induce a sense of satiety quickly – thanks to their fiber content. This way, you end up eating fewer calories if you snack on dried fruits (10).

Remember not to overeat them, though!

4. Reduce Inflammation

Unprocessed or raw foods (like dried apricots) contain plenty of active phytonutrients. Studies recommend snacking on dried fruits for curbing inflammation (11).

Fresh and dried apricots contain several polyphenols. Chlorogenic acid (5-caffeoylquinic acid), neochlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, and their esters are predominant in these fruits.

Catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, kaempferol, and quercetin 3-rutinoside have also been identified. All these phytochemicals are proven anti-inflammatory compounds.

5. Promote Eye Health

One hundred grams of dried apricots contains 3604 IU of vitamin A and 2163 mcg of ß-carotene (2). These micronutrients support good vision. Also, vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that eliminates free radicals from the macula and retina.

Carotenoids are also thought to work as antioxidants. They function as blue light filters and protect the ophthalmic tissues from phototoxic damage. These active ingredients in apricots can lower the risk of cataracts (12).

6. Build Bone Mineral Density

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Low bone mineral density is common in aging and post-menopausal women. It is the leading cause of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and other similar bone disorders. Low bone mineral density occurs due to inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake and lack of exercise (13).

Recent research suggests that even a lack of adequate vitamin K, magnesium, silicon, and boron can cause bone loss. Supplementing all these micro and macronutrients through diet is important (13), (14).

Fortunately, dried fruits like apricots contain a surplus of these less known nutrients. They improve the retention of magnesium and calcium in your body. Boron enhances calcium absorption and the half-life of vitamin D.

It is recommended to supplement your diet with at least 1-3 mg of boron by adding dried apricots, prunes, raisins, or avocados (14).

7. Protect Your Skin From Damage And Aging Effects

Apricots contain ß-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A in your body. Dried apricots also naturally contain a ton of vitamin A (retinol). This vitamin stimulates the growth of new skin cells and gets rid of the dead cells. It results in rejuvenated, glowing, and supple skin (15), (16).

Retinol also protects your skin from photodamage. It stops the breakdown of collagen (a skin fiber) when exposed to sunlight. It also tightens your skin. Consuming dried apricots can help delay signs of aging and stress like wrinkles, acne, and fine lines (16).

8. Aid Pregnancy, Childbirth, And Nursing

Your blood volume doubles when you are pregnant – so that the child gets enough oxygen and nutrition (17). Doesn’t this mean your hemoglobin (or iron) levels must also double?

The recommended intake of iron for pregnant women is 27mg/day. Providing iron through diet and supplements is mandatory during this period. Dried or fresh apricots must make it to your list (17).

Pregnancy and lactation may cause metabolic changes in your body. Too little exercise or an unbalanced diet can often lead to constipation. Drinking enough water and consuming fiber-rich foods like dried apricots can relieve such digestive issues (18).

Like other dried and fresh fruits, apricots have high nutritional value. Be it fiber, protein, vitamins, or phytochemicals – dried apricots contain them all in fair amounts.

But how much of these nutrients do dried apricots exactly contain? To know that, go to the next section!

Dried Apricots And Nutrition

Nutritional value per 1 cup, whole (130 g)
NutrientsUnitsQuantity
Waterg40.16
Energykcal313
EnergykJ1312
Proteing4.41
Total lipid (fat)g0.66
Ashg3.34
Carbohydrate, by differenceg81.43
Fiber, total dietaryg9.5
Sugars, totalg69.47
Sucroseg10.26
Glucose (dextrose)g43.00
Starchg0.46
Minerals
Calcium, Camg72
Iron, Femg3.46
Magnesium, Mgmg42
Phosphorus, Pmg92
Potassium, Kmg1511
Sodium, Namg13
Zinc, Znmg0.51
Copper, Cumg0.446
Manganese, Mnmg0.305
Selenium, Seµg2.9
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acidmg1.3
Thiaminmg0.019
Riboflavinmg0.096
Niacinmg3.366
Pantothenic acidmg0.671
Vitamin (B6)mg0.186
Folate, totalµg13
Folate, foodµg13
Folate, DFEµg13
Choline, totalmg18.1
Betainemg0.4
Vitamin A, RAEµg234
Carotene, betaµg2812
Vitamin A, IUIU4685
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)mg5.63
Tocopherol, betamg0.07
Tocopherol, gammamg0.10
Tocopherol, deltamg0.01
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)mg4.0
Amino Acids
Tryptophang0.021
Threonineg0.095
Isoleucineg0.082
Leucineg0.137
Lysineg0.108
Methionineg0.019
Cystineg0.025
Phenylalanineg0.081
Tyrosineg0.051
Valineg0.101
Arginineg0.086
Histidineg0.061
Alanineg0.143
Aspartic acidg1.218
Glutamic acidg0.244
Glycineg0.091
Prolineg1.067
Serineg0.113

Source: USDA

Apricots of different cultivars have varying amounts of polyphenolic compounds. These commonly contain gallic acid, rutin, epicatechin, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, catechin, procyanidins, caffeic acid, epigallocatechin, and chlorogenic acid (19).

Incorporating dried apricots into your diet is the best way to assimilate all these phytonutrients. You can snack on them or add them to rice porridge. They can be used to make breakfast bars, tea cakes, flapjacks, etc. You can buy good quality dried apricots here.

You can also dry apricots at home in an oven or a dehydrator. The process is simple.

How To Dry Apricots At Home

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  1. Buy or pick your apricots when they are fully ripe. If they are not ripe or firm enough, pack them in a paper bag. Store them in a warm and dry place.
  2. If you are worried the apricots will become overripe, put them in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  3. Once they have ripened, clean the apricots thoroughly. Rinse them under running water. Clean dry them with a towel
  4. Using a knife, slit them along the crease/indentation.
  5. Remove the seed or pit.
  6. Turn the apricots inside out- push the center outwards.
  7. Optional: You may soak or dip apricots in acid solutions (like citric acid, ascorbic acid, lemon juice, etc.) This treatment preserves their color and texture. Also, this prevents the growth of bacteria or other microbes during the drying process.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Lay the apricot halves on the parchment paper. Spread them evenly apart.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat your oven at its lowest setting.
  11. Space the oven racks several levels apart. Place the baking trays on the oven racks.
  12. Start the oven. It will take less time for the apricots to dry at 175°C than 150°C. It might take at least 10-12 hours for them to dry.
  13. When they are halfway into drying, turn them around (backside up). This way, apricots will dry both sides evenly.
  14. The fruits should be slightly soft but leathery when they are done.
  15. Store the dried apricots in sealed (airtight) glass jars. Place them in a cool, dark place.
  16. Apricots dried this way will last for about 6-12 months at room temperature.

Adults and teens can have up to 3½ – 6½ cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Kids aged between 5-12 years of age need 2½ – 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day (20). Include dried apricots and other dried fruits in these recommended portion sizes to make the most of them!

In Summary…

Dried apricots are reservoirs of vitamins A, E, dietary fiber, iron, potassium, and ß-carotene. These, along with the other phytonutrients, act in synergy to produce the above-discussed list of health benefits.

These apricots can be added to any meal of the day. But beware of the added sugars. The readily available ones taste a lot sweeter, which can be harmful to those with diabetes.

Hence, pick the best apricots, dry them at home, and experience healthy satiety. If you’ve used dried apricots differently, tell us how they have worked for you. You can share recipes, suggestions, and feedback in the box below.

References

  1. FOOD PRESERVATION Drying Fruits” Publications, North Dakota State University.
  2. Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  3. Postprandial Glycaemic Responses of Dried Fruit-Containing” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Iron deficiency anemia” Patient Care & Health Info, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).
  5. Iron deficiency anemia” University of Rochester Medical Center.
  6. Diets for Constipation” Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  7. High Fiber Diet for Children” Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan.
  8. Effect of dried fruit on postprandial glycemia: a randomized…” Nutrition & Diabetes, US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Is eating dried fruit healthy?” Ask the doctor, Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.
  10. “Smart Snacks” McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  11. Anti-Inflammatory Living” Campus health service, The University of Arizona.
  12. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin…” British Journal of Ophthalmology, US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Microelements for bone boost: the last but not the least” Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine.
  14. Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their…” The Open Orthopaedics Journal, US National Library of Medicine.
  15. Vitamins for Healthy Skin: Things to Know” Florida Academy.
  16. Five Skin Vitamins” Student Blog, Cinta Aveda Institute.
  17. Eating for Two – A Healthy Pregnancy Starts with a Healthy Diet” Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture And Life Sciences, The University of Arizona.
  18. Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy” Eating Guide, Central District Health Department
  19. Phenolic compounds and vitamins in wild and cultivated apricot…” Biological Research, US National Library of Medicine.
  20. Harvest of the Month” Champions for Change, California Department of Public Health 20.

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