The apricot is a small, yellow-orange fruit that belongs to the Rosaceae family of drupes. Like plums, peaches, and nectarines, this fleshy orb is thin-skinned and features a single stone in its center. It is known botanically as Prunus armeniaca.
But despite its name and cultural link to Armenia, the fuzzy apricot is believed to be native to China. It likely traveled west to Central Asia and the Caucasus along the Silk Road.
With its uniquely sweet and tart flavor, apricot can elevate salads, desserts, and even meat entrees from mundane to exciting. And for those wondering about apricot nutrition, the fruit is also abundant in vitamins and minerals.
Nutrients like vitamin A and potassium offer benefits for eye and heart health. Meanwhile, vitamin C supports a healthy immune system.
Today, we learn all about the apricot, including its nutritional value, health benefits, and culinary uses. Plus, keep reading for a tasty recipe at the end!
Apricot Nutrition Facts
Low-calorie, low-fat apricot has several key vitamins and minerals. Moreover, it’s a good source of fiber, which is important for your digestive tract, among other bodily systems.
The following table illustrates the nutrient content of one fresh apricot (35 grams):
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Total Carbohydrates||3.9 grams (g)||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||0.7 g||3%|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0%|
|Vitamin A||674 international units (IU)||13%|
|Vitamin C||3.5 milligrams (mg)||6%|
|Vitamin E||0.3 mg||2%|
|Vitamin K||1.2 micrograms (mcg)||1%|
Potassium and vitamins A, C, and E and are the most significant micronutrients in this compact fruit. All are essential, meaning your body cannot produce them, so they must come from your diet or supplements.
Carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which give apricot its brilliant orange-gold color, are also notable. They double as antioxidants that could reduce your risk of many diseases.
Each of these nutrients is behind any health benefit the apricot may provide.
Similar to many fruits and vegetables, apricots are rich in health-promoting flavonoids. These chemicals contribute to the color, aroma, and taste of plants while also protecting them against biological and environmental stressors.
In humans, they’ve been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may have benefits for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.
Let’s explore a few potential health benefits of apricot in detail:
May Support Healthy Eyes & Vision
Apricot is loaded with vitamin A and its precursor beta-carotene, both of which are crucial for healthy eyes and vision. Vitamin A allows the retina to absorb light, which is then interpreted by your brain as images.
This vitamin also supports the function of the cornea, the protective clear surface of your eye.
The vitamin C in apricot, also known as ascorbic acid, is highly concentrated in eye tissue, and helps strengthen the tiny blood vessels in your eyes.
At the same time, antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may offer protection against age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other vision problems that often arise with age.
May Promote Skin Health
This “precious” fruit also contains multiple nutrients that can boost the health of your skin.
As potent antioxidants, vitamins C and E can counteract free radical damage to your cells. This type of damage, which can result from a poor diet, exposure to UV radiation, or environmental pollution, is known to accelerate skin aging.
Vitamin C specifically is central to the production of collagen. This fibrous protein provides skin structure and elasticity, and keeps sagging and wrinkling at bay.
There is also some evidence that beta-carotene protects against sunburn.
May Boost Digestion
The soluble and insoluble fiber content of apricot is beneficial for a healthy gut.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water as it passes through your digestive tract. What’s left is a gel-like substance that feeds the good bacteria in your colon. These friendly microorganisms then produce fatty acids that supply your colon cells with energy.
The added moisture to your stool also helps to prevent constipation, making your waste smoother and easier to pass.
Insoluble fiber also helps to keep things moving by increasing stool size and speeding up bowel transit time.
May Promote a Healthy Blood Pressure
Potassium-rich foods like apricot could help you manage your high blood pressure. Fresh apricots contain a fair amount of the mineral, but one-half cup (100 grams) of dried apricots can provide you with 33% of your daily value of potassium.
A diet of excess sodium and too little potassium can lead to high blood pressure. Therefore, many experts recommend increasing your dietary intake of potassium if you suffer from the condition.
Potassium is an electrolyte that works with sodium to maintain proper blood volume and fluid balance in your body. It can reduce the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium.
But be careful not to overeat dried apricots. Excessively high potassium levels can lead to symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, and numbness or tingling.
Apricot Selection & Storage
With so many health benefits in store, you’d be remiss not to include these fruits in your diet.
When shopping for fresh apricots, you’ll want to buy them in season. In North America, this is during spring and summer, ranging from May to September.
They’re available at farmers’ markets, pop-up fruit stands, and large-chain grocery stores alike. Look for fruits with bold, evenly colored skin that is closer to orange than yellow. A pale yellow or greenish color indicates immaturity.
They also shouldn’t be too firm or soft, but should yield to a gentle squeeze. And definitely steer clear of bruised, cracked, or moldy fruits.
Store your fresh apricots at room temperature for a few days to ripen them. Once ripe, eat them right away or refrigerate for later use. They should keep in the fridge for up to one week.
If freezing, wash the apricots first, slice them in half, and remove the pit. Store in an air-tight container for up to six months.
On the other hand, you can purchase pre-dried, pre-frozen, or pre-canned apricots year-round.
Apricots are multi-use foods. Eat them whole, including the skin, for a healthy snack. (Just be sure to remove the pit when eating them raw, as it contains traces of cyanide.) Or boil them and make preserves, jams, or jellies.
Sliced apricots make a great topping for oatmeal, yogurt, and salads. Dried apricots are a popular ingredient in homemade trail mixes and energy bars.
If you’re looking for a new filling for your pies or fruit base for your crumbles, apricot is an underused option. You can also use the fruit to glaze meats such as chicken breast, pork tenderloin, and rack of lamb.
The choice is really up to you.
Now it’s time to put your knowledge to use with a deliciously simple apricot recipe.
Goat Cheese-Stuffed Apricots with Walnuts
These yummy canapés will be a hit at all your social gatherings. The sweet tartness of apricot balances the salty creaminess of goat cheese, while the walnuts give it just the right crunch.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Yields: 14 servings
- 7 fresh apricots, halved and pitted
- 3 oz fresh goat cheese
- 2-1/2 tbsp roasted walnuts, chopped
- 2-1/2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
- Fill each apricot halve with two teaspoons of goat cheese.
- Top each with 1/2 teaspoon of chopped walnuts.
- Drizzle each with 1/2 teaspoon of honey.
- Sprinkle with basil, and enjoy!
Bonus tip: If fresh apricots are out of season in your area, just use dried apricot halves instead.
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