Apricot Facts, Dosage and Benefits

Apricots might be tiny, but they are pretty big on nutrition and flavor. The yellow-orange fruits are very rich in minerals and vitamins, with a flavor ranging from sweet-tart to sweet, depending on the type. When ripe, an apricot’s flesh is soft and juicy.

While dried apricots are a convenient and fun snack, you might find yourself wondering whether the amount of sugar is too high for them to be considered healthy. However, apricots contain valuable nutrients and have many health benefits, whether dried or fresh. Buying apricots without added sugar will help you get the maximum benefit from these antioxidant-rich fruits.

Health Benefits

Thanks to apricots’ high amounts of potassium, flavonoids, and vitamins, apricots have many health benefits. Essentially, flavonoids work to strengthen and protect blood vessels while alleviating symptoms of inflammation. Also, potassium is an essential mineral for muscle and mineral function. Potassium also helps in moving nutrients around the body. Not to mention that its supports heart health and blood pressure. Following are more health benefits of eating apricots:

Skin Protection

Antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E are widely known for their skin protection properties. The vitamins help protect skin cells from UV radiations, improve skin elasticity, and minimize wrinkles. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps in protecting the skin from UV damage and sunburns. Because apricots contain high amounts of water, they are a great way to keep your skin hydrated.

Healthy Vision

Rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A and other carotenoids, apricots are good for promoting better vision. Lutein helps support lens and retina health, whereas vitamin E and carotenoids support overall vision. Also, apricots’ valuable nutrients help reduce risks of cataracts and macular degeneration.[i]

Helps Prevent Cancer

Apricots have many phytonutrients that act as great antioxidants, including beta-carotene, flavonoids, and polyphenols. These can help protect cells from damage that might have resulted in cancer. It isn’t a secret that eating large varieties of vegetables and fruits helps prevent cancer. As a result, apricots are an excellent add-on to any antioxidant-rich meal plan.[ii]

Reduces Risks Of Neurodegenerative Illnesses

Flavonoid quercetin is found in most fruits, including apricots. Furthermore, Rutin, a compound of quercetin, shows lots of promise when it comes to preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as prion, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases.[iii]

Some of the mechanisms through which apricots can help include enhanced antioxidant activity, minimized proinflammatory cytokines, and genetic modulation (down-regulation or lethal genes and upregulation of good genes). Although more research is needed to investigate these effects further, increased apricot use might help reduce the burden of specific neurologic conditions.

Blood Sugar Control

Dried apricots are frequently eaten alongside nuts, like in trail mixes. Nuts usually slow the rate of gastric emptying and glucose release to the bloodstream because of the natural fat content. If nuts are combined with medium to low glycemic index dried fruits, like apricots, the fall and rise of blood sugar becomes more even. For those trying to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, consuming nuts and dried apricots can be a very healthy snack.[iv]

Aids Heart Health

Whether dried or fresh, apricots offer soluble fiber that’s known to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Moreover, the potassium found in apricots helps control blood pressure. These factors, alongside anti-inflammatory polyphenols found in apricots and other vegetables and fruits, offer many cardiovascular benefits.[v]

Improved Digestion

Apricots are high in fiber, which helps improve digestion. The overall fiber content is half insoluble and half soluble fiber. The soluble fiber helps the digestive tract retain adequate water and encourages good gut bacteria growth. Also, insoluble fiber is good for a healthy gut.

Apricots Nutrition Facts

USDA provides the nutrition details below for one fresh apricot (35 grams).[vi]

  • Calories – 17
  • Protein – 0.5g
  • Sugars – 3.2g
  • Dietary fiber – 0.7g
  • Carbohydrates – 3.9g
  • Sodium – 0.4mg
  • Fat – 0.1g

Carbs

One fresh apricot contains about 4g of carbs, with only 3g of sugar and 1g of fiber. On the other hand, dried apricots don’t just offer additional sugar per fruit, but they might also contain more sugar added during processing. Therefore, the best thing you can do is making sure you check the nutrition facts label. If dried, fresh fruits lose volume, making it easy to consume a bigger portion and ultimately more sugar. Nevertheless, dried apricots are considered to have a lower glycemic index.[vii]

Fats

Apricots contain very little fat, with only about 0.1g per serving.

Protein

Fresh apricots contain some protein, with one fruit having about 0.5g.

Minerals and Vitamins

Apricots are rich in beta-carotene and potassium. Also, they provide folate, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and calcium. Even though dried apricots might contain high amounts of sugars and calories, they also have more minerals and vitamins. Fresh apricots contain the same nutrients as dried but in higher quantities.

Adverse Effects

Apricots are high in compounds known as FODMAPs. For people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), FODMAPs are not well-digested and usually lead to gastrointestinal issues. Suppose you notice abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or other unpleasant reactions after eating apricots. In that case, you should speak to a specialist or health physician for more evaluation.[viii]

Individuals who are more sensitive to sulphur should use lots of caution with the commercially dried apricots because they might be treated with compounds containing sulphur during their processing. This isn’t a good thing considering sulfites might adversely affect the gut bacteria.

You should consider removing the pit (stone) of apricots since it isn’t edible. Technically, the kernel found inside the shell of the pit contains amygdalin, a poisonous compound that might lead to cyanide poisoning.

Allergies

Food allergies to apricots are rare but not entirely impossible. It’s highly likely that you’ll experience allergic reactions to apricots incase you’re allergic to fruits belonging to the Rosaceae family, particularly almonds, apples, cherries, and peaches. You should speak to a health physician in case you notice an allergic reaction after consuming apricots. Some of the symptoms you should watch out for include tightness of breath, vomiting, swelling, and skin hives.[ix]

Varieties

You’ll find different apricot varieties that slightly vary in taste, color, and size. These include Tilton, Moorpark, Mormon/Chinese, perfection, rival, and Goldrich. Some varieties might be mixed with other types.[x] This creates hybrid apricots having unique properties. Following are some popular varieties:

  • Aprium: A medium fruit with a plum taste and clear yellow skin.
  • August glo: Medium-sized apricot having a sweet-tart flavor.
  • Autumn royal: It’s a medium-sized fruit with a slight orange blush and yellow skin similar to Blenheim. The flesh is slightly acidic and yellow. Use dried, canned, or fresh.
  • Blenheim: It’s a medium to large fruit having orange flesh. It’s a juicy apricot with an aromatic, sprightly, and sweet flavor. It’s a classic California apricot. Use for canning or eat out of hand.
  • Chinese/Mormon: This is a small, orange fruit with a red blush. The fruit has a firm flesh that is juicy and sweet.

History

An apricot is a tiny, golden-orange fruit with velvety flesh and skin. It’s not very juicy, but absolutely sweet and smooth. Apricots have an almost musky flavor with a bit of tartness. The tartness becomes more pronounced after the fruit is dried.

Apricots are native to China but were brought to Europe through Armenia; this is why they are named Prunus armenaica. However, by 1970, the apricot tree had been introduced in Virginia, but its introduction by the Spanish missionaries to California in 1792 marked apricots’ actual arrival in the United States. The Californian climate is perfect for apricots to thrive. In the US, apricots are primarily grown in California’s sunny orchards.

About 3000 years ago, the domestic cultivation of apricots was only prevalent in China. Afterward, it spread to Asia and was ultimately introduced to Greece and then Italy and Europe. As mentioned above, the English travelers introduced apricots to California and North America. Apricots are extensively grown in America and Eurasia. Today, the fruits are grown across the globe.

Apricots can be enjoyed fresh and dried, eaten as jam, or cooked in pastry. Also, the fruits can be distilled in liqueur and brandy. Essential oil from the stone are commercially sold as almond oil. The United States, France, Greece, Spain, Russia, Italy, and turkey are the largest commercial growers of apricots.

How To Prepare Apricots

You can eat apricots whole, skin and everything. You should only consider removing the skin if you want to use the apricots for baking, mainly because the skin might change the appearance and texture of the finished product.

Also, you can enjoy apricots as a snack. You can even slice the fruits and add baked goods, hot cereal, cottage cheese, or yogurt. Dried apricots pair perfectly with nuts for an energy-boosting snack. Also, apricots may be utilized in sauces, fruit spreads, and dessert recipes. Also, apricots preserves might be used like glazes for meats.

Storage Tips And Safety

Fresh apricots might be kept at room temperature and must be used within the next few days. Wash the fruit under running tap water before cutting or eating them. After you’ve sliced the fruit, store the small pieces in the refrigerator and eat them within the next few days. If you’re not planning on eating the apricots, store your fruits whole without washing them in a fridge for up to 3 weeks.

There are many ways of preserving apricots. Before dehydrating, canning, or freezing apricots, wash them thoroughly and remove all pits. Next, place the apricots in a container containing a mixture of water and ascorbic acid. This will prevent the fruits from browning. You can purchase ascorbic acid as commercial mixes, powdered forms, fruit juice dips, or vitamin C tablets. Canned apricots and apricot nectar may be stored at about 40 degrees for a maximum of 48 months.

FAQs

When are apricots best?

You can buy apricots canned, dried, fresh, and in preserves throughout the year. You'll find these products in farmers' markets, gift shops, or supermarkets. Dried apricots may be purchased in your local grocery store next to other fruits such as cranberries and raisins. When buying canned, jellied, or dried apricots, look for those without added sugar. Apricots season is traditionally between spring and summer.

How to buy apricots?

When buying apricots, pick flesh apricots with an orange uniform color. Avoid fruits that are pale or having yellow spots because it's highly likely they aren't ripe. Good apricots are slightly soft but also firm to press. Avoid apricots with mold, blemishes, or bruises.

What are the benefits of eating apricots?

There are several benefits of eating apricots. These include:
• Protects your liver
• Are very hydrating
• High in potassium
• Promotes gut health
• Boosts skin health
• Promotes good vision
• High in antioxidants

How many apricots should you eat in a day?

A single dried apricot counts as 1 of your 5 per day. It's recommended that you take 30 grams every day. All the flesh apricots have the same nutritional value as dried ones.

Do apricots contain high amounts of sugar?

Apricots contain less sugar than even berries. USDA states that one fresh apricot has over 3g of sugar. Apricots are an excellent option when looking to change your fruit routine; you still get to snack on something healthy and tasty.

Do apricots cause increased weight?

Apricots are low-calorie food. Apricots have 48 calories for every 100 grams that makes apricots a great low-calorie addition to a weight loss diet. Apricots make you feel full for many hours.

What are the benefits of eating dried apricots?

Dried apricots contain calcium that strengths bones and preserves better functioning of the nerves. Also, dried apricots contain magnesium that helps offer relief from cramps and muscle spasms.

Are apricots laxatives?

Many dried fruits like raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, and dates are great dietary fiber sources that help relieve constipation.

 

Sources

  1. [i] National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A: Fact sheet for health professionals. Updated February 14, 2020.
  2. [ii] Budisan L, Gulei D, Zanoaga OM, et al. Dietary intervention by phytochemicals and their role in modulating coding and non-coding genes in cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(6):1178. doi:10.3390/ijms18061178
  3. [iii] Enogieru AB, Haylett W, Hiss DC, Bardien S, Ekpo OE. Rutin as a potent antioxidant: Implications for neurodegenerative disorders. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018;2018:6241017. doi:10.1155/2018/6241017
  4. [iv] Zhu R, Fan Z, Dong Y, Liu M, Wang L, Pan H. Postprandial glycaemic responses of dried fruit-containing meals in healthy adults: Results from a randomised trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(6). doi:10.3390/nu10060694
  5. [v] National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium: Fact sheet for health professionals. Updated June 3, 2020.
  6. [vi] Apricots, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
  7. [vii] Viguiliouk E, Jenkins AL, Blanco Mejia S, Sievenpiper JL, Kendall CWC. Effect of dried fruit on postprandial glycemia: A randomized acute-feeding trial. Nutr Diabetes. 2018;8(1):59. doi:10.1038/s41387-018-0066-5
  8. [viii] Irwin SV, Fisher P, Graham E, Malek A, Robidoux A. Sulfites inhibit the growth of four species of beneficial gut bacteria at concentrations regarded as safe for food. PLoS One. 2017;12(10):e0186629. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0186629
  9. [ix] Kim M, Ahn Y, Yoo Y, et al. Clinical manifestations and risk factors of anaphylaxis in pollen-food allergy syndrome. Yonsei Med J. 2019;60(10):960-968. doi:10.3349/ymj.2019.60.10.960
  10. [x] Apricot varieties. Utah State University Extension. Updated 2017.