Apricot or Prunus armeniaca is a fruit with a lot of health benefits. It can be used to fight anemia, improve vision, relieve constipation, prevent cancer, strengthen bones, and improve heart health. Apricots can also be used against infertility, coughs, asthma, and bleeding.
Apricots are those beautifully colored fruits that look just like a small peach. Their color varies from yellow to orange. They have a firm flesh, which is not that juicy. Their taste alternates between sweet to tart.
Apricots can be consumed directly in their fresh, raw forms. They can also be dried before consumption. Dried apricots tend to be richer in vitamins and minerals than fresh ones. Almost all vitamins and minerals increase in concentration, with the exception of vitamin C, which becomes greatly reduced after drying process.
The content of apricot depends on its form, whether dried or raw. Raw apricots provide reasonable amounts of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and few minerals. On the other hand, dried ones are rich in numerous nutrients including provitamin A, niacin, vitamin E, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Dried apricots also contain rich amounts of dietary fiber, up to 7% of their total weight.
Evidence-based medicinal uses of apricots
- Improves vision or eyesight
- Prevents nervous system disorders
- Fights anemia
- Relieves constipation
- Prevents cancer
- Improves heart health
The presence of vitamin A in association with other vitamins and minerals gives apricot this property. Its intake keeps vision in good condition. It gives the eye more sparkle and beauty. Vitamin A helps protect the surface of the eye. Numerous studies have found it effective in treating dry eyes. Also, vitamin A in combination with other antioxidants plays a role in decreasing the risk for vision loss through macular degeneration (1).
Vitamin A is simply an “eye vitamin”. And apricots, especially dried ones, contain this vitamin in rich amounts. So, if you wish to boost your eye sight and prevent numerous eye disorders such as night blindness, eye dryness, loss of visual acuity, and itching of the eye, then incorporating apricots into your diet can put you on track.
Nervous system disorders
Apricots may be beneficial in preventing numerous nervous system disorders, due to their richness in some B-group vitamins. Thiamine is required by the nerve cells in the brain. Riboflavin aids in the proper metabolism of iron, a mineral that is needed for the formation of blood cells. Niacin also plays an important role in the nervous system, and its deficiency can lead to dementia, and altered mood states. Folates are important in preventing neural tube defects.
Due to this richness in B-group vitamins, intake of apricots may help in maintaining equilibrium within the nervous system. It might be beneficial in cases of nervousness, depression, and even asthenia.
The intake of apricot may help greatly in cases of anemia caused by iron deficiency. When iron is deficient in the body, red blood cells can no longer be produced in sufficient amounts. This causes anemia, which is characterized by symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.
Apricots, especially dried ones, contain iron in significant amounts. It also contain reasonable amount of copper. As already known, iron is directly involved in the production of red blood cells, whose low-count is responsible for anemia. Also, research has found copper to improve the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.
The relationship between copper and iron is very profound. In fact, there are cases where iron-deficiency anemia cannot be relieved by the consumption of iron but can be successfully treated by the consumption of copper (2).
Apricots, especially dried ones can help relieve constipation. This is due to the rich amounts of fiber it contains. Fiber helps fight constipation by adding some bulk to stool, and improving the peristaltic action of the gut in moving stool down the colon.
If you are having a hard time passing out feces, then the intake of one or two apricots may act as effective laxative to put a smile on your face.
Apricot has been found to possess great antioxidant properties (3). Intake of antioxidant-rich foods help reduce our risk of cancerous growths, by fighting the activities of free radicals, whose interaction with body cells can initiate the growth of cancer. Moreover, apricots contain significant amounts of vitamin C, which helps boost the body’s immunity.
By adding one or two apricots in your diet, you are not only boosting your immunity against disease causing organisms, but also reducing your risk of developing any type of cancer.
Not long ago, a research found the consumption of bitter apricot seeds to have beneficial effects in preventing cardiovascular diseases (4). The research found intake of apricots to reduce total cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol level in human volunteers.
Excess amounts of LDL cholesterol is very harmful to the cardiovascular system. It can clump in our arteries, and eventually block the flow of blood to vital organs such as the heart and brain – conditions that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Moreover, apricots contain very little amounts of fats and sodium, which are probably the two most antagonistic factors to heart health. On the other hand, it contains potassium in significant amounts; a mineral which plays a role in heartbeat, and in regulating blood pressure.