Apricots

Spring has finally sprung, and soon, the wonderful velvety-orange Apricots will be harvested.

Its origins are disputed.  Some people believe that apricots came from Armenia while others suggest that they were first cultivated in India.   Wherever they originated, they eventually found their way to the Greeks circa 60 BC, who referred to the fruit as the “Golden Eggs of the Sun.”

Scientifically known as Prunus Armeniaca, apricots are closely related to prunes [i]. They look a lot like peaches but the main difference between the two fruits is that apricots have a tart flavor, and are a bit smaller in size. Apricots can be consumed either fresh, dried or as an ingredient in the preparation of juices, jams, and jellies [ii].

 

Apricots and Your Health

These fruits indeed have a lot of ‘sweet’ health benefits, making them a healthy marvel of nature’s bounty.  Here are but a few [ii].

 

Bone Building

1-2 apricots are good sources of bone building minerals like potassium, calcium, and phosphorus along with manganese, iron and copper [iii].  Apricots can aid in healthy bone development and help to prevent osteoporosis later on [ii].

 

Cancer Fighting

Apricots are good sources of the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  These antioxidants have chemo-preventive compounds which help to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that can form cancerous cells. Therefore, consuming apricots within a healthy diet may help defend against some free radical damage and reduce risk for cancer [iv].

 

Natural Laxative

Apricots are great sources of dietary fiber, with 1 Cup of sliced apricots containing about 4 g of dietary fiber, helping to add bulk to the poo and move the bowels more effectively [iii].  And it isn’t limited to fresh!  Dried apricots are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, making it easy to consume apricots all year round for their fiber benefits.  Pop them in cereals or enjoy them solo for a nighttime treat.

 

Boosts the Skins Shine

One of the main nutrients in an apricot is Vitamin A. A cup of sliced apricots contains about 25% of the Daily Values for Vitamin A, aiding in better vision in dim light as well as protecting skin from the detriments of age. Apricot oil, a creative topical agent made from the fruit, keeps the skin moist and shiny and helps treat skin infections like eczema [ii].   Glowing skin fosters those successful first impressions!

 

Heart Healthy

Fruits, including apricots, help boost heart health.  Today, saturated fat and added sugars from traditional packaged snacks and meaty treats spur heart related issues.  Keeping apricots on hand can provide an alternative fat free, fiber rich snack that can bust the cravings and fill in the hunger gaps.  Oh, and we forgot to mention that it’s a good source of the electrolyte potassium, which helps to keep the heart pumping beautifully.  Thus, apricots help protect from heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis.  If you are buying them dried, make sure the ingredient list on the package proudly states one ingredient: apricots [ii].

 

Get ready for the season, and look for ‘em at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, and say hello to the start of the delightful summer bounty.  And look for recipes from our very own Culinary Creator at Savor Health!

 

References
[i] Bortiri, E.; Oh, S.-H.; Jiang, J.; Baggett, S.; Granger, A.; Weeks, C.; Buckingham, M.; Potter, D.; Parfitt, D.E. (2001). Phylogeny and systematics of Prunus (Rosaceae) as determined by sequence analysis of ITS and the chloroplast trnL-trnF spacer DNA. Systematic Botany. 26 (4): 797–807. JSTOR 3093861.
[ii] 10 Impressive Apricot Benefits. (2017, April 28). Retrieved May 04, 2017, from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/apricots.html
[iii] National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. (2016, May). Retrieved May 3, 2017, from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2140?manu=&fgcd=&ds=
[iv] Anand, P., Kunnumakara, A.B., Sundaram, C. et al. 2008. Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharm Res. 25: 2097. doi:10.1007/s11095-008-9661-9
Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Jessica is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition (CSO). She studied nutrition at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She obtained her Master's degree through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Jessica has worked in inpatient and outpatient oncology settings since 2001 in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jessica is in charge of all operations including clinical and culinary operations ranging from menu development to evidence-based website content, relationships with registered dietitians and social workers and developing processes and protocols for intake, management and outcomes analysis of patients.

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