Thursday, 19 May 2016

Apricot Fruit 12 Health Benefits & Facts You Should Know

Apricot are the yellowish-orange fruits that belong to the family of Rosacea or Prunus.
In appearance and size, Apricots are small in size and a fully matured fruit can be between 1.5 cm to 2.5 cm. They are covered in a velvet-like skin that is smooth and soft to touch owing to a beautiful hairy cover.
Apricot is available and consumed in both fresh as well as dried form. Both are equally nutritious in their content.
In their unripe form, Apricots are green, and they turn to a golden yellow or orange shade ones they start ripening. They are usually available in the summer season.
However, you can relish the canned and dried variety all through the year. Their flesh is quite firm, and they are sweet and have a musky, faint tartness in their taste sometimes.
Apricots are grown in many countries of the world. They are most popular in countries of North America, South America, and New  Zealand.
Apricot were first grown in China, but due to international trade and exchange, they spread to Europe via Armenia.
This explains the scientific name of the plant – PrunusArmenaica. They came to America in the eighteenth century. The weather conditions of the United States are well-suited for the growth of Apricots.
Not only are they consumed in their fresh and dried forms, but they are also used in making pastries, jams, and marmalade. They also find usage in liquor industry where they are used in making brandy and liqueur.
A rare form of oil is distilled from the pit of the peach fruits and is known as bitter almond oil or oil of almond.
Some of the leading producers of apricots in the world are Italy, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Greece, France, and the United States.

Nutritional Value of Apricot Fruit

Energy48 Kcal
Carbohydrates11 gms
Dietary fiber2 gms
Fats0.4 gms
Protein1.4 gms
Vitamin A96 ug
Beta Carotene1094 ug
Lutein Zeaxanthin89 ug
Vitamin B10.03 mg
Vitamin B20.04 mg
 Vitamin B30.6 mg
 Folate9 ug
Vitamin B50.24 mg
Vitamin B60.054 mg
Vitamin C10 mg
Vitamin E0.89 mg
Vitamin K3.3 ug
Calcium13 mg
Magnesium10 mg
Iron0.4 mg
Phosphorus23 mg
Potassium259mg
Sodium1 mg
Manganese0.077 mg
Zinc0.2 mg
Apricots are highly rich in nutritional content. It is closely related to peach and plum in the way it tastes.
The following chart gives a detailed story of its rich nutritional value per 100 grams serving. (1)
100 grams serving of fresh apricot provides you with
12% of Vitamin C
12% of Vitamin A
6% of Potassium
Just 48 Kcal!
It is a low-fat fruit and contains a high amount of sugar.
In this article, we will introduce our readers to various health benefits lent by Apricots in details.
Also, a few factors to be kept in mind as a caution.

Apricot Health Benefits

1. Apricot good for your eyes

Many studies have shown that consuming apricots are highly beneficial for your ophthalmic health. (2)
Consuming two or three servings of apricots in a day has proved to be beneficial in preventing age-related Macular Degeneration.
Macular degeneration is a disorder of the eye and is one of the major causes of loss of sight in older people. It also helps in strengthening the optic nerves in your eyes.
It also lowers the risk of another major eye-related illness called Neovascular ARMD. The carotenoids and the various vitamins especially Vitamin A and Beta Carotene present in apricots are responsible for reducing the risk of developing this disorder.
The carotenoids and the various vitamins especially Vitamin A and Beta Carotene present in apricots are responsible for reducing the risk of developing this disorder. (345 )
Vitamin A with Carotene and Lutein prolongs vision in people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and delays the loss of peripheral vision.
It is also considered an excellent remedy for alleviating dry eyes symptoms. In younger people it has been found to slow the progression of Stargardt’s disease- an inherited eye disease.(6)
Wrap up: Vitamin A and Beta Carotene in Apricots strnethens optic nerves of eyes and protect from macular degeneration and other eye diseases that result in complete or partial loss of vision.

2. Rich Antioxidants In Apricot

Apricot, when ripened naturally, are a rich source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are required by the body to aid the body’s natural functioning. Higher the amount of antioxidants in the body,  higher is the rate of elimination of toxins from it. (789)
Toxins are harmful substances that accumulate in the intestines and the digestive tract. Anti-oxidants also get rid of free radicals produced naturally in the body on exposure to oxygen.
Free radicals if not scavenged regularly, can damage the body on a cellular level.  Apricots have the capacity to increase the production of antioxidants.
They are also rich in carotenoids and other strong antioxidant phytonutrients. Apricots are rich in vitamin A content due to the presence of high levels of beta-carotene in them which is a precursor of Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant. Its presence is useful for the growth of cells in the body and helps in improving the immune system. (10)
By optimizing the immune function, it leads to an overall improvement in the health of the human body.
Wrap up : Apricot are rich in antioxidants and help in eliminating free radicals and toxins thereby strengthening the immune function.

3. Fiber Are Health Booster

Dried and fresh apricot are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. Though fiber is good for the human body, apricots contain a special kind of fiber that is, even more, beneficial.
Rich soluble fiber that dissolves quickly in the body; this helps in absorbing essential nutrients. It melts into a gel-like substance and helps in breaking down fatty acids. (1112)
Once fatty acids are broken down, they help in the excretion of digested food particles and the easy bowel movement.
The high amount of dietary fiber also helps in keeping you safe from gastrointestinal disorders. It ensures a regular emptying out of intestines and protects from constipation and constipation induced piles. (131415)
Wrap up: Apricots have a high amount of soluble fiber which aids digestion function and protects from constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. 

4. Heart Healthy

The high amount of soluble fibers is also beneficial to the heart health.
How are the two related?
The high fiber content is useful in reducing the LDL or bad cholesterol content in the body, thus lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. (1617)
At the same time, it also helps you increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.
Consuming just half a cup of apricots every day is useful and beneficial to the health of your heart.
Potassium in Apricots further balances the electrolyte and ensures that the muscles of your heart work to the best of their ability and remain healthy. (18)
The antioxidants stunt the age-related heart diseases and weaknesses. (19)
Wrap up: The antioxidants, potassium and fiber in Apricots optimize the health of entire cardiovascular system including heart.

5. Potassium for a healthy you

Fruits like apricots and those belonging to the same family are high in potassium content.
Optimum levels of potassium are extremely beneficial to your body.
When potassium combines with sodium or salt, it regulates the water levels within and between cells. This water or fluid is called electrolyte and is responsible for carrying neuro-transmissions.
Potassium is also required to keep the blood pressure levels stable.(20)
Deficiency of potassium is known to be deterrent to the body as it increases the possibility of developing hypertension.
Hypertension, in its most severe forms, can lead to the possibility of heart attacks.
Eating half a cup of apricots is enough to give you a whopping 21% of your required potassium intake every day.
Wrap up: Potassium in Apricots maintains electrolyte balance, optimizes the blood pressure and reduces the chances of hypertension led stroke.

6. Non-heme Iron

All the plant items that contain iron include the type that is called Non-heme iron. Most of the dry fruits contain this type of iron.
The specialty of this iron is that the body does not readily absorb it. This way the amount of unabsorbed iron stays for a longer period in the body and is more efficient when absorbed slowly.
For better absorption, however, one can consume this with any other sources of Vitamin C. (21,22)
The iron content in apricots is helpful in preventing you from developing anemia.
Anemia is a common blood-related condition wherein blood contains a lower level of Red Blood Corpuscles and hence, a lower level of hemoglobin content in the body.
It is often characterized by dizziness, weakness, fatigue, nausea and inability to carry out day to day activities due to persistent tiredness.
According to the World Health Organization, it is one of the most severe forms of nutritional disorders in the whole world.
Young girls and especially the women are more prone to developing anemia than men because they lose blood every month during menstruation.
Loss of blood also indicates loss of iron content and nutrients.
Wrap up: Apricot contains non-heme iron which gets absorbed slowly, gradually and much more effectively thus protecting from Anemia.

7. Apricot For Cancer

Free radicals in the body are harmful and attack the DNA structure at cellular level causing abnormal growth of cells. (23)
Free radicals inhibit the natural course of cell growth and in long term invade the healthy cells and destroy them as well.
The production of free radicals is a direct result of some molecules’ reaction with oxygen. Antioxidants are essentially body cleansing compounds that control these free radicals.
The rich levels of antioxidants in apricots are helpful in lowering your risk of developing cancer. In fact apricot kernels better known as its seeds have been found to kill cancerous growths without apparent side effects. (24)
Antioxidants in the body keep it clean from free radicals. It thus saves the body from many different types of cancers, including cancers of the lungs, esophagus, and the larynx.
Wrap up: Rich content of antioxidants in apricots lend it cancer inhibiting properties that controls and prevents the growth of cancerous cells in the body. 

8. Skin Benefits With Apricot

The high level of antioxidants like Vitamin A , Vitamin C and phytonutrients in apricots are highly recommended for maintaining skin health. (2526)
The antioxidants in apricots slow down the process of aging by facilitating faster cell production that replaces the layer of dead and worn out cells.
It renews the skin layers and removes the fine wrinkles giving your skin a taut appearance.
Vitamin A also ensures that the skin is free from acne and other such general skin problems. (27)
Wrap up: The antioxidants in apricot make skin youthful, healthy and delay the appearance of ageing on face.

9. Helps You Lose Weight

The high amount of dietary fiber that the apricot fruit is gifted with is useful for those people who are looking at losing a few kilos.
High fiber content improves the digestive and excretory systems in the body and helps improve the rate of metabolism.
To add fantastic character, apricot also contains an extremely small amount of calories.
Consumption of apricots makes for a healthy snacking if you are following a dietary regime to lose excessive weight and working out as well.
Apricots can restore the electrolyte balance and fill your stomach without adding the calories that eventually build up the weight of the body.
Wrap up: Fiber, low calories and mineral content of apricot make them an ideal snack for people on strict diet and facilitates the weight loss as well.

10. Strengthens your bones

Apricots are rich in calcium and potassium content. The body requires calcium in bone formation and bone development.
Lack of calcium leads to a disorder of the bones called Osteoporosis. The high calcium content is thus useful in the keeping of bone health and saves you from brittle bones. (28)
However, one essential mineral that regulates the absorption, distribution and excretion of calcium in our body is Potassium. (2930)
Without potassium, all calcium that you consume and calcium contained in the bones would be released in blood stream eventually getting evicted from the body. It will not only affect the bone health but will also choke the bladder that purifies the blood.
Wrap up: Apricots maintain strong and healthy bones owing to their calcium and potassium content.

11. Electrolyte content

Proper functioning of the cells requires a good balance of the electrolyte levels in the body.
The electrolyte is required for transporting ions and neurotransmission from brain to rest of the body and back.
It also maintains a stable fluid level that is necessary for proper expansion and contraction of the muscles.
Apricots contain a healthy level of potassium and a moderate quantity of sodium. These are essential minerals required by the body to optimize the electrolyte levels in the body.
Wrap up: Electrolyte levels in the body are maintained by Potassium and sodium amongst other minerals and both of these are contained in apricots in ideal quantities.

Plant Compounds That Make Apricot Special

Antioxidants are crucial nutrients that plays a vital role in development and protection from diseases.
The major role of antioxidants is to protect from free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for many health issues like cancer, heart disease and many more.
Apart from it, they possess unique benefits that you should consider. These are the top antioxidants present in apricots. Know more about them in detail.
  • Quercetin: Quercetin is flavonoid possess anti-cancer property. (31)
  • Proanthocyanidins: It possesses inflammatory property. Along with it protect from cardiovascular disease by vessel relaxation and LDL oxidation inhibition. Inhibit tumor growth and improve diabetes complication. (32)
  • Catechins: Apricot contain catechins in low quantity compared to tea. But you can benefit from cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease and stroke), cancer, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease) and also in weight loss.(33)
  • Epicatechins: Studies has shown that epicatechin plays protective role like insulin and significantly lowers diabetes type 2. It also relaxes heart muscles for better heart health. (34)
  • Hydroxycinnamics: Numerous studies support it’s benefits from diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases and chronic lung disease. (35)
  • Gallic acid: Gallic acid has multiple properties like antimutagenic, antiangiogenic, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic. It is used in treating diseases like cancer, depression, microbial infection, etc. (36)
  • Caffeic acid: It protects from DNA cell damage and maintains cells vitality. Also, it prevents heart failure by strengthening and preventing damage due to oxidative stress. (3738)
  • Coumaric acid: It is top scavenger of Reactive Oxygen Species(ROS) thus protect from their side-effects.(39)
  • Ferulic acid: Protect skin from UV rays and slow down the aging.(4041)
  • Lutein:  Many Research has found that Lutein  protects from age-related macular degeneration(AMD) and cataracts. (3334)
  • Zea-xanthin: Zea-xanthin protects eyesight from degenerative diseases. (35)
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin: It is a potent antioxidant that protects from free radicals and degenerative diseases. It studies it is found to protect smokers from lung cancer. Also it promotes healthy bone development. (3637)

A few After Words

Orange or yellow is the natural shade of the apricot fruit but if you come across apricots that have an additional reddish tinge, be careful before buying.
The reddening of the apricot fruit is due to the presence of sulfur dioxide which is a preserving agent. It is inorganic and is harmful to the human body upon consumption.
The best way to consume apricots is in its dry form as it is most natural and safe this way. Moreover, the dried variety of apricots is available in the markets throughout the year, and, therefore, you need not go looking for it.
Those suffering from asthma or have known to have sulfur-sensitivity should be extra cautious when consuming apricots. Sulfides are often added to preserve the fruit by preventing oxidation.
Oxidation is the process, when the iron contents of the fruit react with the oxygen in the environment and begin to rot.
So next time you feel hungry any time of the day, you know it is Apricots that you may consume!
Cut it, slice it, squeeze it in the form of juice or add it to your dessert, but make sure you consume apricots some way or the other and bask in its incredible health benefits.

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