Apricot Benefits Explained: Are Apricots Actually Healthy?
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Apricots have been known to man for thousands of years and they are widely thought of as being more than a mere ‘sweet treat’. In fact, over time the humble apricot has come to play quite an important role in our lives (especially if we enjoy this fruit often) because of the many benefits it has for our skin, hair, and health in general.
I for one have always loved these fruits, whether dried or in their raw form simply because they have a really unique taste, texture and a sweet (sometimes even tart) flavor that really brightens up your day, or a meal for that matter. It’s the perfect solution for a natural and healthy dessert at the end of a great meal or simply as a healthy snack over the course of the day.
While many of us may have some inclination about the idea that apricots are healthy, most of us don’t realize exactly just how healthy and versatile these fruits actually are, once you know how to utilize them to the best of their ability. It’s a little-known fact that the natural products of apricots (in this case, apricot oil in specific) are incredibly powerful natural medicines as well as being tasty at the same time.
Oils have been extracted from plants through a process known as steam distillation for centuries and today, with the advent of new technology and a more streamlined production process in general, we can get some of the cleanest, purest and therefore the healthiest apricot oil that has ever been available to us in a matter of minutes! The trouble we have as homeopaths is getting people to realize how effective this amazing natural product is (something that has actually been around for centuries), as well as ensuring that they understand how to use it correctly.
I think that the majority of people who don’t use natural products more often or correctly are second-guessing the importance of healthy medicines and holistic healing techniques which could have serious ramifications for them in terms of health and the healing process.
So I invite you to read this article and take some time understanding exactly what makes this popular, ancient fruit such a resounding success as alternative medicine and hopefully we’ll shed some light on how to get the most out of nature without disrupting the balance too much.
What Are Apricots? Where Do They Come From?
Apricots belong to a family of fruits known as the ‘drupe’. This means that the fruit (the soft, fleshy part that we eat) covers a hard, seed which in turn contains a seed kernel. Peaches, plums and olives are also good examples of drupes which you may find regularly. Once the fruits have changed from green to a yellowish-orange while still on the tree and have also softened slightly -- they’re ready to pluck. The fruits usually ripen over a three-week period usually from either late April to May or from June to August and sometimes September depending on the region and climate etc.
Today, the leading exporters of apricots in the world are Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Iran -- so it’s a little easier for us to assume that the tree may well have originated from somewhere in this area because the conditions seem to be so well-suited to encouraging its growth, but the apricot tree has a long and winding history that is both rich and diverse.
As we now know, apricots have been around for quite some time -- but how long exactly? Well, historians claim that some of the earliest mentions of apricots being cultivated or used regularly date back to 3000 BC in ancient India -- which is largely thought of as being one of the oldest historical records of the cultivation of apricots so far.
This would also make sense when you consider that the Ayurvedic practice of medicine (to date one of the oldest schools of medicine we know of) -- so the use of natural products and ingredients in various healing techniques or medicines would have been quite popular during this time.
Many also argue that the fruit may have originated in ancient China due to historical records of the tree being grown there for some time (roughly 4000 years) as well as the fact that we know that peaches originated in China. Many suppose that because the apricot and the peach are so similar in nature, there may be a chance that cross-pollination leads to the growth of the apricot -- but that’s yet to be confirmed.
Many also suspect that the fruit may have originated in Armenia as it’s been cultivated there since ancient times. But for now, I think it’s safe to say that the apricot originated in the East, but has since become loved the world over.
Nutritional Content Of Apricots Explained
We know that apricots are healthy -- but what exactly makes them healthy and what are they best used for? The answer to that question lies in understanding the vitamin, mineral and nutrient content of the apricot as well as how to best use these to treat various health ailments or issues quickly and effectively but most importantly, healthily.
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 the nutrients of the apricot.
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 in produce also goes by the name 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 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.
Apricots are a rich source of vitamin A (roughly 12% of our DRI) which makes them great at treating our skin and eyes. The high amounts of beta-carotene and retinol that’s contained in vitamin A helps to strengthen our eyes and can even prevent or help to reverse the effects of certain degenerative eye disease, such as Neovascular ARMD.
Vitamin A is also highly effective at treating our skin and can help to encourage cell growth and slow the signs of aging. This is due to the combination of vitamin C that also occurs in the apricot at high levels.
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.
Vitamin C (roughly 12% of our DRI) is a well-known antioxidant which is highly effective at trapping and flushing free-radicals out of your system. These harmful chemicals are often considered as one of the leading causes of degenerative skin conditions, serious diseases such as cancer as well as the early onset of aging -- so getting them out sooner than later is very important.
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.
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.
There is soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, but apricots are especially high in insoluble fiber. This fiber can also go by dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber kind of acts like instant oatmeal inside your body. It absorbs the water and turns it a mush.
The high amount of dietary fiber that can be found in apricots also makes the fruits incredibly effective at preventative heart disease and bad cholesterol. The dietary fiber helps to absorb and get rid of the excess ‘bad cholesterol’ (or HDL) and can actively promote the generation of ‘good cholesterol’ (or LDL), thus decreasing your chances of suffering from blocked arteries, heart diseases and strokes.
The fiber of apricots is also incredibly easy for your body to digest which means that it breaks down quickly and won’t contribute to your overall weight (boosts metabolism and has a very low-calorie count). Due to the fact that the dietary fiber of apricots breaks down so easily, they make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients and reap the benefits of the fruit more efficiently.
Finally, the humble apricot is also a really good source of iron and calcium which means that it’s great for strengthening bones and treating anemia. So if you suffer from a lack of iron, but can’t eat meat, try using a combination of apricots and oranges on a regular basis to help improve the iron levels in your blood as well as boost your overall immune system. I think it’s easy to see why apricots have remained popular for so long -- they’re like nature’s multi-vitamins!
Apricot Benefits During Pregnancy: How Apricots Can Help You And Your Baby
Once you’ve found out you’re pregnant -- you’re likely going to be extremely excited and happy at the news at first, but as the hype starts to wind down, many mothers start to realize just how much of a responsibility having a child is in actuality as well as just how much work goes into nurturing a child in the womb. Some of the most important minerals and nutrients that we need during the prenatal period are folic acid, protein, iron, calcium and iodine and the apricot has the majority of these minerals and nutrients contained within.
Because you’re likely going to be watching your weight over the course of your pregnancy (and spending your money on everything from doctor’s appointments to kitting out the new baby’s room etc.) that you’ll want to save where you can. Instead of buying expensive multi-vitamins, try eating an apricot once a day. They’re a great way to get the minerals and nutrients you (and your unborn baby) need without the risk of putting on too many pounds because they have a low-calorie count. This makes them ideal for those hunger-pangs or food cravings -- they can really be a lifesaver during a tough day!
There is some debate as to whether dried apricots are better for you and your baby’s health over raw apricots but ultimately there isn’t that much of difference between the two in terms of their nutrient, vitamin or mineral content. However, dried apricots tend to have a higher amount of iron and dietary fiber than raw apricots and therefore might make a better snack over the course of the day or for mothers struggling with low iron counts.
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is important for both you and your child during pregnancy and what you eat will determine a lot regarding you and your child’s health as well as the birthing process itself. So always be sure to do your research or speak to a doctor during pregnancy to ensure that your body is getting enough of what it needs to stay healthy.
Benefits Of Apricots For Skin Health Explained
As we know now, apricots are loaded with vitamins A and C which are incredibly potent natural antioxidants. This means that they’re highly effective at treating the conditions that generally lead to bad or irritable skin and also help to treat skin from within -- something that is uncommon for conventional skincare products.
Over the course of a day, our bodies produce a series of oxidized molecules through various digestive processes. These molecules are known as free radicals and they’re largely the main contributor to the advanced signs of aging -- it has even been suggested that they may contribute to the formation of cancer.
Free radicals also enter our body through external factors such as air pollutants and toxic chemicals in food, drinks or personal products such as perfumes, deodorants, sunscreens, etc. This is usually the most common way that we introduce free radicals to our system.
Once they’re activated (although little is known about what causes these molecules to become activated), they act much like cancer in that they bond to the pre-existing molecules in our body and cause chain-reaction like damage to our body’s, resulting in degenerative skin disorders, general health issues and of course, advancing the signs of the aging process i.e. wrinkles and dry, irritable skin.
When we eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are loaded with vitamins, we are effectively introducing molecules into our system that bond with the free radicals before they can bond with our body’s molecules (like DNA). This allows our body to flush them out before they can do any serious harm and ultimately helps to prevent or slow the signs of aging.
Besides eating the fruit itself, sweet apricot kernel oil is often used as a toner for many skin types and is highly effective at nourishing the skin from the surface and can also help to keep your face clean, hydrated and moisturized over the course of the day. It’s a well-known cicatrisant which means that it helps to tighten the skin and boost cell regeneration by encouraging cell migration.
If you want plump, luscious, clean and healthy skin -- then eating apricots and using apricot oil on your face is probably one of the easiest, cost-effective and all-natural ways to treat your skin and ensure that it stays younger for longer.
Apricots For Heart Health Explained
Our heart is an organ that I think many of us take for granted most of the time. Like most parts of our body, it’s only when there’s a problem (a pain, an ache etc.) that we tend to take notice. However, the best way to ensure that we don’t have any major problems develop along the way is to make sure that we eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise and stick to those apricots!
Apricots are known to be rich in dietary fiber, which means that they’re great for treating people with high counts of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a balancing act unto itself and our body requires two forms of cholesterol to remain balanced in order for us to remain healthier for longer.
Too many Low-Density Lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and you’ll wind up having a heart attack and too much High-Density Lipoproteins (good cholesterol) can also be harmful in large amounts, although death as a result, is still less likely than with LDL levels being too high.
So what can we do to help prevent the onset of these serious diseases? The best way (at least, the healthiest and cheapest option) is to encourage a healthier diet -- one that focuses on getting a good amount of dietary fiber in your system on a daily basis. Apricots are great for this because whether dry or raw, they contain a high amount of dietary fiber. The fiber is important for our hearts because it helps to absorb the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), ultimately reducing the amount in our blood and allowing us to remain healthier for longer.
Apricots are also rich in potassium and vitamins which are necessary for good heart health. This is because potassium helps to lower the blood pressure, which is important because it means our heart isn’t under too much stress. The Apricots are also rich in vitamin C which is great because the vitamin helps to keep our heart rid of free radicals -- thus improving heart health as well as helping to prevent the onset of any serious heart diseases.
Apricots For Weight Loss Explained
As anyone who has ever tried will know, losing weight can be a difficult and challenging process for us and it’s important for me to emphasize that it is a process which takes time and continued effort to achieve.
It’s unrealistic to think that a supplement, fruit or a product (whether natural or not) will allow you to lose significant amounts of weight on its own. All we can do is find ways to help curve your appetite, find healthier alternatives for you to eat and encourage you to stick to your diet -- the rest is up to you.
Apricots are a great source of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that our body needs in order to remain healthy. As an energy source, dried apricots pack a whopping 1000 kJ per 100 g serving -- which means that they’re a great way to keep your energy levels up over the course of the day and keep you going without loading on the pounds.
This is because apricots (dried or raw) are very light in calories and dissolve in our body quite easily, ensuring that it’s much-needed vitamins, nutrients and minerals are digested quickly and efficiently.
Apricots also help to break down fatty acids in our digestive system which means that they’re a natural means of regulating our digestive processes and ensuring that they work correctly.
This makes it easier for us to get rid of toxins and waste that our body generates on a regular basis, allowing us to feel healthier and more energized as well as giving our body a better chance at dealing with the challenge of losing weight, rather than dealing with it being held back by sluggish digestion
Apricots For Bone And Blood Health Explained
A little-known fact about apricots is that they’re rich in both iron and calcium which makes them highly effective at treating our bone and blood health. Anemia affects roughly 1.2 billion people around the world -- that basically means that 1 in every 7 people on the earth today suffers from some form of iron deficiency in the blood -- which is a staggering amount!
Women seem to be the highest contributors to these numbers, so it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough iron on a regular basis if you’re a woman -- pregnant or not. Thankfully, apricots are a good source of iron and can really help to boost your iron levels, without the risk of adding on too many pounds plus they’re suitable vegetarians and vegans.
The iron that is found in apricots is known as a non-heme iron which means that it takes a little longer to be absorbed into the bloodstream than regular iron does. The longer that this mineral stays in our blood, the better your chances are at reducing the effects of anemia and the better you’ll start to feel.
However, I would recommend that you use a little vitamin C when ingesting non-heme iron as it helps with allowing the iron to be absorbed by our body. With regards to our bone health, calcium plays a large role in determining the strength of our bones and having the right amount can make all the difference between having, strong, healthy and functional bones or achy, brittle bones.
Our bones are essentially made out of calcium (or are made up of a large percentage of calcium) and by ingesting more calcium in our diets, we can effectively strengthen our bones and make them less brittle. Dried apricots contain roughly 6% of the daily amount of calcium we need and would, therefore make a great addition to a nice, milky bowl of oats or cereal. You’ll be grateful for taking the advice when you get older, trust me!
How To Dry Your Own Apricots
Drying your own batch of fresh apricots is a great way to ensure that you get enough of them in your daily diet as well as saving you loads of money over time. It’s an easy, fun and interesting experience that shouldn’t take too much effort to get right.
First, buy a few fresh apricots. You want their flesh to be soft, yet supple and a bright yellow-orange in colour. Once you’ve got the apricots, put them in a brown paper bag or a plastic container and leave them in your fridge for at least a week in order to dry them out.
Now, wash the apricots in cold water. Let them rest in the water for a few minutes in order to get rid of any pesticides or dirt that may remain on them. Slice the apricots into thin pieces, taking care to avoid the hard seed shell in the center of the fruit.
Once you have the slices, fold them inside-out and place them on a baking tray with a little bit of oven-friendly parchment paper or baking paper underneath the apricots (baking tray, paper, apricots). Preheat your oven to 930 C or 1750 F and let them sit for at least 12 hours.
Be sure to check up on them regularly to ensure that they don’t burn, melt or stick. Once the time has elapsed, remove them from the oven and let them cool for an hour. Then store them in sealable Tupperware containers or glass jars and enjoy at your leisure!
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 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. This 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. 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 vitamins 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.
Get your very own Apricot Kernel Oil at the Maple Holistics Store
I’ve been a fan of apricots for a long time. In fact, my whole family seems to enjoy them and they’ve been a breakfast table addition and a lunchtime snack for many years as a result. However, it was only until I actually followed up with some research that I realized just how healthy these fruits were in actuality.
Now I wouldn’t let a pregnant woman out of my sight without offering her one! So it just goes to show that the answer may often be lying directly in front of us, and yet because we are unaware of the various benefits that common fruits and vegetables have, we opt for more costly forms of treatment instead of relying on nature’s own recipes.
Because apricots are delicious and can be used as either savory or sweet foods, they’re easy to incorporate into your daily diet and will brighten up your mood as well as your health. I’d also recommend trying out sweet apricot kernel oil as a means of keeping your skin and hair healthy, nourished and revitalized over the course of the day.