Apricots: The Health Benefits Of This Delicious Fruit
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Apricots are one of the only fruits I know of that taste just as good dry as they do in their traditional form. If you live in North America and you’re not privy to live in a fancy enough area with “exotic” produce stores, you probably are only going to be able to eat them dry or canned during the winter months.
The reason for this, is that the “exotic” stores generally get their apricots from New Zealand or South America in the winter. If you feel so bitter that you can’t find those fresh apricots in the winter, at least you have other alternatives.
Never mind the small fact that dried apricots are actually MORE nutritious than fresh ones per serving.
The taste or flavour of apricots has been described to be somewhere between a peach and a plum. Apricot enthusiasts can get a lot of their much-needed antioxidants, without breaking the calorie bank.
Apricots Nutrients And Nutritional Value Explained
Apricots have a slew of nutritional properties which would give you another reason to eat them besides for their versatility and yumminess.
I often hear people debating which fruits are healthier and more nutritious but apricots are often left out of those debates because the results would be pretty clear. Here is a breakdown of those valuable nutrients found in apricots.
The first nutrient that we should start with, is vitamin A. This is not necessarily because of its place in the alphabet at all, this is because of its importance! Vitamin A comes in different forms when it comes to produce and animal products.
The Vitamin A form found in produce is known as carotenoids. When a fruit is deeply orange or yellow such as is the case with apricots, it is a sign that they are vitamin A rich.
Vitamin A is fat soluble, which is good if you want it penetrating your cell walls which are made up of, you guessed it, fat. Next time you are going clothing shopping, ask the store clerk if they think your cells make you look fat. Vitamin A is an essential aid in the proper functioning of your immune system, as well as normal cell growth. It counteracts a number of eye disorders and will make your skin look all glowy.
So if you’re taking vitamin A, you’ll have great looking skin and be able to see it well. One apricot will give you 13% of your daily vitamin A value. Vitamin A is known for including a ton of antioxidant compounds.
The key word here with apricots seems to be antioxidants. Vitamin C is another one of those antioxidants that fill up apricots. When I was a wee uneducated young lad, I just knew that vitamin C is in oranges, and I should have a lot of it to get well from a cold or flu. It is in fact so much more than that.
The reason why we are instructed to eat foods high in vitamin C when we have a bug sickness, is that vitamin C is like a crazed revolutionary in a dictatorship country.
It helps our bodies put together a resistance against infectious particles that can be attempting to take control of the body, such as free radicals. Free radicals might sound like an extremist hippy group, but they are in fact the cause of a lot of trouble in our bodies. They are simply molecules bouncing around our body trying to destroy our healthy cells.
This can contribute to aging, heart disease and even cancer. Antioxidants, specifically in vitamin C, help give those angry free radicals a hug and help stabilize them, changing their destructive nature.
Let’s talk about the potassium content in apricots. Probably the most popular value of potassium is the increased brain function due to increasing the oxygen flow and the electrical current flow to the brain. It helps your blood vessels and arteries chill out a bit and not be so tense in general, to get the blood flow around your body.
People that need their blood pressure regulated need a nice amount of potassium. Potassium, in partnership with sodium, helps control your electrolyte levels. I have found that potassium, more than having mind-blowing benefits, generally maintains good functionality in the body, and prevents an abundance of problems that would absolutely suck to have such as muscle cramps, low blood sugar (which can lead to even more problems that suck more) fatigue, anxiety, stress, and fluid balance in your body.
Apricots have a high level of potassium in them and a nice chunk of your daily intake is in them.
Fiber. Apricots contain a nice amount of it. There is soluble fibre and insoluble fibre, but apricots are especially high in insoluble fibre. This fibre can also be known as dietary fibre. Insoluble fibre kind of acts like instant oatmeal inside your body. It absorbs the water and turns it a mush.
This helps your body absorb the nutrients in your food and break it down well. In other gross news, insoluble fibre actually helps your stool to pass easier. Yes, we all know the value of good poop. Speaking to anyone over 30 and health conscious, I have found that they’re wary of cholesterol.
This fibre helps scrape the cholesterol blockages out of your veins and arteries. I guess fibre clears out your pipes in more ways than one.
It’s not so hard to see why apricots have immense nutritional value. It will be explained further what these nutrients can practically do for you.
— Tasty Recipes (@tastyrecipes007) October 8, 2017
The Health Benefits Of Apricots Explained: What Can Apricots Do For You
If you actually read the nutrient breakdown and explanation of apricots, you might have been thinking “okay all this sciency stuff sounds great, but how does this interesting hairy musky fruit actually do for me?“
In order for you to understand just why I think that you should incorporate apricots into your daily diet, I’ll explain all of that to you.
One thing that everyone can definitely benefit out of apricots is the skincare properties. If you like me are one of the privileged people who have been watching the skincare trends, you like I have noticed that the more advances that the skincare industry makes, the more they come back to natural products. They realize that chemicals have nothing on the natural properties of plants and foods like apricots.
The skin care benefits contributed to the antioxidants in apricots can protect the skin from deterioration caused by aging or sun exposure. Applying it topically seems to be the way that it’s being used for skincare today, but even eating it can reduce inflammation and help restore skin cells.
Using it topically can help maintain skin elasticity, remove blemishes, moisturize your skin without making it look oily and even reduce wrinkles.
For those of you who perform sporting activities, but you know, actual strenuous sporting activities, not like driving or archery, apricots can be crucial for you. So before you accuse me for hating on sports that don’t have you running around like a maniac, I do believe in those sports and their need for athletic ability to compete.
However, the benefit of apricots for sports is that they help with good muscle functionality due to their high amount of potassium. Low levels of potassium can cause muscle weakness and cramps, especially in people who are frequently working their muscles. Eating apricots also brings more blood flow and oxygen to your muscles helping them grow and feel better after strenuous activities.
Another benefit of apricots is being ridiculously good for bone growth, development and strength. This is due to the perfect combination of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, iron and copper. For young people with growing and developing bones, and old people who need the bone strength, this is an extremely vital benefit.
Have you ever had a fever and were given apricots to combat it? Maybe you should have. Apricots are a great natural way of combating a fever. Apricots are given to patients with fever because they provide essential vitamins, minerals and water to the body. As they’re soothing the body in that way, the antioxidants move in and help detoxify your system, lowering your body’s temperature.
We spoke about vitamin C and free radicals before. In today’s pollution filled, toxin-filled world, free radicals tend to sneak right into your body and wreak all kinds of havoc. Apricots contain vitamins like C and A which help neutralize them, saving you from all kinds of terrible problems.
Think of the two biggest killers; cancer and heart disease. Free radicals are a huge contributor to both. I can keep listing you diseases that these things are responsible for such as stroke and diabetes, but I wouldn’t want to depress you too much. Just eat apricots and be happy.
In addition to all these health benefits, apricots can also aid in reducing inflammation, anaemia, cholesterol, low blood pressure, and the list can really keep going. I believe however that this is a comprehensive list of the best benefits of apricots.
Apricot Benefits In Pregnancy Explained
Apricots have been long given to women during pregnancy. Between fresh apricots and dried apricots, dried apricots are said to be more beneficial for pregnant women.
The reason for this is because the increase of calories in dry apricots are better for women’s calorie intake, which needs to be high, and the higher sugar content for those pregnancy cravings.
Obviously, there are better things for pregnant women to eat, but apricots are a much better alternative than all the unhealthy additive filled foods that they do tend to gravitate to.
Dried apricots also get more pregnancy praise because of their iron levels that are higher than that hobo who hangs out in front of your local strip mall. The levels of iron and magnesium combined can greatly treat and lower the risk of anaemia, which can be precarious in pregnant women.
We talked about the bone and muscle development components in apricots, these components help develop the fetus healthily so that they’ll practically be jumping out of the womb. If you’ve actually been pregnant, then you might know about the frustrating blockage that can come in the later months a.k.a. constipation.
Apricots have that fibre to get your system running smoothly and clear everything up. I’ve never been pregnant, but I find that dried apricots and coffee in the morning gets my digestive system off to a running start. Apricots have a good few benefits for women during pregnancy, but I wouldn’t eat too much of anything during pregnancy without consulting a health professional.
Are Apricots Fattening? How Many Calories Are There In Apricots?
I love food. I know the horrid feeling of someone telling you about a great life-changing food that they recently tried, and checking the calorie count soon after to find that it has 1000 calories per bite.
Ok, I’m exaggerating, anything that’s 1000 calories per bite is very obviously fattening right off the bat. Of course, you can indulge every so often, but when you’re indulging, you’d want it to be something like cake or bacon… on top of cake. So the good news is that you don’t have to use your indulging points on apricots.
One apricot holds approximately a mere 17 calories. Dried apricots is where you get a bit more into the danger zone. Each dried apricot holds about 17/17.5 calories. The difference is that nobody stops at one dried apricot, it simply won’t do the trick.
However, for reference, one slice of thin white bread will cost you 53 calories. So if you make a sandwich, you’re already at 106 calories before you put anything in it.
The good thing about apricots when it comes to weight loss, is that apricots make you feel full longer as they slow down the release of chemicals from your stomach and speed up your digestive system. All those things can contribute to weight loss, or maybe just not weight gain. So no, apricots are not super fattening, but it’s easy to go overboard and have a big calorie intake when eating them dry.
Dry Apricots Explained: Nutritional Value And How To Dry Apricots
People have been drying apricots for the longest time. There is recorded history of dried apricots being very popular for transport on the Silk Road because of how well they last. For Reference, the Silk Road was around between 120 BCE and the 1450’s.
A vast amount of the apricots that you see are treated with sulphur oxide, to make them look more presentable. Generally, the brighter, more vividly orange they are, the more sulphur oxide they’ve been treated with. Some governments, like the European Union, put limits on how much you can sulphur dioxide it.
I wouldn’t worry, because of all the great antioxidants that you’re ingesting anyway… ok maybe there is a bit to worry about.
If you were to search the internet right now, you’d find a slew of information about how dried apricots are more nutritionally dense and more calorie dense. In general, they are.
This is taking into account that you will be consuming more due to dried apricots obviously being much smaller. The fresh apricots obviously contain a lot more water in them, which will make you feel fuller.
There are more nutrients in dried apricots like fibre, iron, and potassium, but there is also more sugar and calories because as I stated, you will be eating more. The sulphur, as I mentioned is for the purpose of aesthetics, also does kill some of the nutrients, especially thiamine.
The heat of the dehydrating process also does kill some of the vitamins such as vitamin C, which is dense in fresh apricots. It’s tough to know the nutritional value of a dried apricot exactly because different companies dry it differently. For example, there are companies that blanch (that’s boiling or steaming) apricots before drying to kill germs and speed up the drying process.
Drying your own apricots can be a more simple process than you would think. I was very happy with my dried apricots especially knowing that they weren’t loaded with sulphur. The hardest part is probably picking out good apricots.
I bought my apricots fully ripe, but even if they aren’t yet, you can put them in a paper bag and leave them by the window and check on them periodically.
I took my ripe apricots and obviously cleaned them because I don’t enjoy eating dirt. Next, I cut them exactly along the middle so I was able to pop the Kernel out easily. I turned my apricots inside out so that the flesh was facing up. It’s argued on whether you have to do this or not, but to me, it made more sense. I took a baking sheet and lined it with parchment paper and spaced the apricots out evenly on it.
What you want to with the oven is put it on the lowest temperature. That would be around 175 F and 80 C. My oven is super small, but if you have a big one, it’s better to space multiple trays apart. Now grab a book and read for 10-12 hours while your apricots dry, it will make you a more knowledgeable dry apricot eater.
The time varies depending on how big the apricots are and how hot your oven is. After they’re done drying, put them somewhere dark and cool like your basement dungeon to cool down.
Apricot Kernel Oil Explained: Benefits And Uses
Apricot Kernel oil. Where to start. Apricot Kernel Oil is one of the coolest and most amazing natural products that I’ve ever come across. It is made by cold pressing the seed or the pits of apricots and has been being cultivated in the East for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Anything that you would dream an oil is good for, it is that. I’m sure it’s even making some people rich. The first obvious use for this oil is just for using it as a food. You can use it in cooking or as a spread. The benefits of the kernel oil are the same as in eating apricots, but obviously more concentrated.
The oil has many cosmetic uses as well and is used in a good number of baby products which would show you how gentle its properties are. It also has a lovely soothing aroma which is a quality that I love in baby cosmetic products.
It is so soothing, that it is actually used often in aromatherapy practices to relieve stress and tension. Aside from being used in baby products, it is very often seen in the ingredients of shampoos, soaps, scrubs, and other skin products.
This is due to having good healthy fats and vitamins including vitamin E, A and C which are all really good for topical uses. I love using this on my skin in the winter as it really helps dry skin. The coolest thing about it as a moisturizer is that it penetrates my skin surprisingly fast and doesn’t leave any residue or oil on it.
This is partly because the oil has a similar lipid content to your skin, which, if that is gibberish to you, means fats and waxes on your skin surface. Yummm. It even helps relieve itchy and eczema filled skin and can treat wrinkles. Next time you see an ad for a magic wrinkle cure, know that it’s not magic that cures wrinkles, its Apricot Kernel Oil.
The skin and hair softening properties are not only contributed to vitamins E and A, but also to the essential fatty acids that it has.
Apricot Kernel Oil is also frequently a part of many massage therapists’ collections of oils. It is said to relieve tension and balance the nervous system.
It’s funny how when most people eat a fruit, they tend to completely disregard the kernel not knowing what amazing benefits and value that it can have. After this article, however, I would hope that you know better.
There are too many benefits in this fleshy hairy little fruit for you to simply ignore it next time you make a trip to your local or nonlocal produce shop. Winter, or Summer, Dry or Fresh, Apricots are good for you in any way at any time.