Apricot: Properties and Benefits

Apricot

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.

Apricot: Properties and benefits
Apricot: Properties and benefits

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.

Index

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

Chemical composition for 100 grams of apricots
Water g 86,35
Protein g 1,40
Carbohydrates g 11,12
Sugars g 9,24
Fat g 0,39
Fibers g 2
Minerals
Calcium mg 13
Copper mg 0,078
Iron mg 0,39
Magnesium mg 10
Manganese mg 0,077
Phosphorus mg 23
Potassium mg 259
Selenium mcg 0,1
Sodium mg 1
Zinc mg 0,20
Vitamins
Vitamin A IU 1926
Vitamin A, RAE mcg 96
B1 mg 0,030
B2 mg 0,040
B3 mg 0,600
B5 mg 0,240
B6 mg 0,054
C vitamin mg 10
Vitamin E mg 0,89
Vitamin J mg 2,8
Vitamin K mcg 3,3
Beta Carotene mcg 1094
Lutein Zeaxanthin mcg 89
Folate mcg 9

Source: Nutritionvalue

Apricot contains many constituents with antioxidant properties: quercetin, catechins, epicatechins, gallic acid, caffeic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin.

Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.

Calories

The caloric intake provided by  100 grams of apricot pulp corresponds to 48  kcal. 100 grams of dried apricots instead have an intake of about 200  kcal.

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 )

Ripe apricots on a branch

Fights Anemia

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 fact that non-heme iron is absorbed more slowly by the body also helps prevent anemia. Reasons for these to regularly consume apricots and other iron-rich plant foods.

Fatigue

The apricot is useful in case of chronic fatigue, for convalescents, for the elderly and for children in the age of growth.

Helps Developing Bones 

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.

Weight loss   

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.

Inflammation

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.

Confettura di Albicocche - 700 gr

Tasto Amazon

Protects the Skin

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.

Antioxidant Properties

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 Chemistryapricot 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.

Regulates Cholesterol

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.

Heart

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 )

Antitumor

Apricot contains carotenoids, substances with antioxidant properties useful to protect the body from lung cancer and oral cavity.

Psoriasis

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 )

Eye Health

Apricot is an excellent source of vitamin A that plays an important role with regard to eye health. Its deficiency can in fact cause blindness at dusk, dry eyes and other serious vision problems.

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 )

Dried Apricots

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.

In these cases it is always better to buy organic fruit as by law organic fruit cannot contain sulphites.

Albicocche disidratate - 250 g

Tasto Amazon

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?

Leifheit Stoner for Prunes and Apricots

Tasto Amazon

The Varieties

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.

Curiosity

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

Italian language version

Disclaimer:

This is not a medical newspaper, the information provided by this site is for informational purposes only and is of a general nature, it cannot in any way replace the prescriptions of a doctor or other health professionals authorized by law. The notions of dosage, medical procedures and product descriptions on this site have an illustrative purpose and do not allow to acquire the necessary experience and manual skills for their practice or their use. If you have been prescribed medical care I urge you not to interrupt or modify them, because all the suggestions you find on www.mr-loto.it  must always and in any case be compared with the opinion of your doctor.

Back to top button