The apricot is one of the first fruits to mature in summertime, its seeds are still being studied for their supposed antitumor properties. The fruit instead has other beneficial effects on health, let’s see which ones
Apricot, botanical name Prunus Armeniaca, is a fruit belonging to the Rosaceae family.
The plant is native to China where it was already known in 3.000 b.C. It was spread throughout Europe by the Romans after the conquest of Armenia. From this region, where it was called the apple of Armenia, ( Armeniacum malum ) it also took its name.
The apricot plant in the wild can exceed 10 meters in height. It flowers in spring and its fruits, depending on the species, ripen from June until the end of July. The plant bears cold temperatures without problems but it blooms very early compared to other fruit plants. For this reason, in the case of spring frosts, the crop can jump.
- Chemical Composition
- Digestive System
- Dried apricots
Apricot is considered a fruit rich in nutrients with a high fiber content and low in calories. In recent years, scientific research has recognized many therapeutic properties that we will see in detail later.
Turkey is the largest producer of apricots in the world followed by the United States, Spain, Italy, France and Greece. The varieties of apricot are many and, although the tastes are similar, the dimensions and colors vary depending on the species.
Apricot is rich in minerals, organic acids, phenolic compounds and carbohydrates. The fruit can be eaten fresh or dried. However, most apricots that are produced worldwide are consumed fresh. Their seeds are also used as raw materials by the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
The phenolic compounds present in the fruit have antioxidant properties that prove useful in various aspects from a healthy point of view. ( 1 )
|Chemical composition for 100 grams of apricots|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||96|
Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
Apricot: Properties and Benefits
Apricot is undoubtedly a fruit with good properties from the nutritional point of view. This is thanks to the high content of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber.
Benefits to the Liver
The liver is one of the most important organs of our body. Its functions are very numerous and range from the production of proteins to the metabolism of fats for energy production.
A study conducted on rats suggests that this fruit has protective properties against the liver. ( 2 )
Another 2013 study, again conducted on rats, supports the ability of the apricot to regenerate liver cells. Further studies on human beings are obviously needed to formalize the effectiveness of these fruits on the human liver. ( 3 )
Its intake is particularly suitable for those with anemia problems. Like all fruit, apricots also contain non-heme iron. This type of iron, unlike that found in foods of animal origin, is absorbed more slowly and with more difficulty.
The problem is solved by consuming other foods rich in vitamin C. This increases the absorption of iron.
In light of this fact one would expect that vegetarian people are easily prone to anemia. Studies deny this condition. The explanation is precisely in vitamin C that vegetarians, not consuming meat, take in good quantities.
The apricot is useful in case of chronic fatigue, for convalescents, for the elderly and for children in the age of growth.
The vitamin A is also useful for the development of bones and for the proper functioning of all tissues of the body, skin and mucous membranes in particular. The high percentage of potassium is able to prevent various nervous and muscular disorders.
The good fiber content, besides helping the digestive process, also improves the metabolism. In addition to this the apricots are able to provide a good sense of satiety with a low caloric intake. All this avoids taking more food during the day and keeps the body light.
The apricots have a high content of catechins, a family of phytonutrients, flavonoids. These compounds have been studied extensively by researchers. Studies have revealed that catechins inhibit the activity of an enzyme that is involved in one of the critical phases of inflammation.
The extract of the apricot seed oil also has anti-inflammatory properties. In an animal study, this compound was shown to protect against ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. ( 4 )
The research also shows that other foods rich in catechins such as green tea and cocoa, bring health benefits. Catechin-rich foods have been shown to protect blood vessels from damage caused by inflammation.
Still on the subject of vitamin A we recall that it is able to stimulate the production of melanin. Melanin is the substance responsible for tanning and protecting the skin. The sorbitol rather confers to apricot read properties laxative.
The apricots fresh contain vitamin C which we know to have antioxidant properties and helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and against the harmful effects of free radicals.
According to a 2008 study, antioxidants are able to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. ( 5 )
Also with regard to the fight against free radicals apricot contains other substances with antioxidant properties that are useful for this purpose. Lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, quercetin, catechins, gallic acid, caffeic acid, coumaric acid and ferulic acid.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, apricot is particularly rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and gamma-carotene. ( 6 )
Consuming fruit that contains antioxidants also prevents the onset of degenerative macular disease typical of old age. This benefit is given by a nutrient, lutein, which is able to protect the retina from damage caused by ultraviolet rays.
Adjust the Heart Rate
Apricot, as we have seen, is a significant source of potassium. Thanks to this characteristic, it brings benefits to different parts of the body. Helps maintain proper fluid balance, helps control muscle function and helps regulate heart rate.
The apricots contain both insoluble fiber that is soluble but the latter of which are particularly rich. In this way their consumption helps to keep bad HDL cholesterol and blood glucose levels under control.
The high amount of soluble fiber in this fruit is also beneficial for the heart. In fact, its intake is not only useful in reducing LDL cholesterol but also helps increase HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol levels. All this is to the benefit of heart health.
A test performed on rats in 2009 showed that taking these fruits has cardioprotective properties. ( 7 )
Apricot contains carotenoids, substances with antioxidant properties useful to protect the body from lung cancer and oral cavity.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects about 2% of the world’s population. A 2016 study showed that bitter apricot essential oil is capable of inducing apoptotic death of diseased cells. ( 8 )
Protects the Digestive System
The fiber present in the apricot also contributes to the health and proper functioning of the digestive system. The fiber crosses the digestive tract without being digested, thus increasing the mass of the faeces and prevents constipation.
An analysis of 5 studies in 2012 showed that increased fiber intake increased the frequency of stool in patients with constipation. ( 9 )
A Japanese study on mice suggests that the intake of fiber contained in Japanese apricot increases the quantity of feces and promotes their expulsion. ( 10 )
In addition to vitamin A, seeds also have beneficial effects on the eyes. A 2016 animal study showed that apricot seed extract reduced eye dryness in mice. ( 11 )
One of the characteristics of dried apricots is to keep intact the mineral salts that are normally found in the fresh fruit and, more importantly, is the high content of dietary fiber. Thanks to its properties it is able to bring benefits to the functionality of the intestine and to reduce the rate of cholesterol and sugar present in the blood.
Dried Apricots and Sulfites
The sulfites, sulfur-containing compounds, are often added to the dried fruits such as apricot acting as preservatives to prevent the oxidation and bleaching of colors of the fruit. These substances can cause side effects in people who are particularly sensitive to sulphites.
These reactions can be particularly strong in people suffering from asthma and it is estimated that about 5% of asthma sufferers may have problems with sulphites. Apricot is also recommended for those suffering from kidney stones.
Laetrile or Vitamin B17 and Apricot Seeds
The seeds contained in the apricot kernel contain vitamin B17 ( laetrile ). This substance was discovered in 1950 by Ernest Krebs jr and seems able to attack and destroy the sick cells of the body. In particular, it appears to be effective against some types of cancer. Krebs claimed that cancer is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin B17.
According to Edwar Griffin, author of the books A World Without Cancer and Alive and in Good Health, this deficiency is resolved with the administration of laetrile. According to the author, this drug was boycotted for economic reasons. In fact it is too cheap and unpatentable as it is derived from the seeds of plants that are common in nature.
According to research conducted by Dr. Dean Burk of the National Cancer Institute, it appears that vitamin B17 reacts with the enzyme glucosidase which is present only in diseased cells.
In the presence of this enzyme, vitamin B17 reacts by releasing cyanide that destroys cancer cells. On the other hand, healthy cells are not attacked because they do not contain the glucosidase enzyme. This is the only one able to activate vitamin B17 to produce cyanide. This is the reason why we should occasionally consume apricot seeds, even as a precaution.
A very recent study conducted in Pakistan reports that the amygdalin present in the seeds indicates apoptosis and causes the arrest of the cell cycle in cancer cells. ( 12 )
To learn more: Apricot Seeds: Cancer Treatment or Health Hazard?
There are many varieties of apricots. The following ones are the most valuable and at the same time the most cultivated. Baracca, Monaco, Reale di Imola, Early Cremonini, Val Venosta, Boccuccia, Cafona and Nancy Fishing.
The apricots ripe can be refrigerated for up to 6/7 days.
In the apricot there is a seed that once deprived of its hard “armor” can be consumed as if it were a hazelnut. But be careful, not all apricot seeds are edible, it is easy to notice from their very bitter and inedible taste in the case of non-edible ones.
It seems that its name derives from the Arabic term Al-barquq and previously from the Latin word Praecoquus which in both cases means precocious. This terminology depends on the fact that apricot is an early plant. In fact it begins to bear fruit already in the second year after being planted.
The plant belongs to the Rosaceae family, the same to which prunes, peaches and cherries belong.
Apricot is a fruit slightly difficult to handle, commercially speaking. Once detached from the plant its maturation stops inexorably. For this reason it is difficult to find the right ripe apricots on the market.
Maybe You Didn’t Know That
A solution to have this ripe fruit at the right point could be to explicitly ask the trader for apricot jam (generally considered waste and therefore less expensive).
In cosmetics, apricot is used for the preparation of masks for skin care. This is thanks to the abundant vitamin A and minerals.
Apricot: Properties and Benefits
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