Apricot: A Delicious Fruit
Apricots are small, golden orange fruits with velvety skin and flesh, not very juicy but smooth and sweet, are one of the most nutritious fruits available in summer. These fruits are popular because they contain low levels of calories. They are stone fruits with seed inside. Seeds are also edible and taste like almonds. The shape of this fruit is similar to peach but little smaller in size. Apricot is called ‘Khumani’ in Hindi and are mostly grown in cold climatic conditions like Ladakh and Kashmir regions of India. It is an important source of income for the people of Ladakh as most of them depend on cultivation and marketing of the fruit. An apricot in raw state will have sour taste but decreased when ripens, acidity and sugar content increase. Research shows that apricots possess the highest levels and the widest variety of carotenoids.
Apparently Apricot has many benefits, parts of the fruits like the kernel (the soft part of the seed), oil and flowers of Apricot are used in the treatment of different ailments from ancient times.
Following are some of its health benefits
Contains Vitamin A: When ripe the fruit is fortified with Vitamin A. This essential vitamin is considered an anti-oxidant, that protects cells and eliminates free radicals from the body brought about by heavy metals or tobacco, which are considered to be the main causes of cancer. The powerful anti-oxidant, Lyopene, is one of the carotenoids found in Apricot.
The high content of Vitamin A is important to maintain or improve our vision as Vitamin A deficiency can cause vision damage and night blindness. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membrane and skin.Vitamin A also helps in bone growth and helps build strong immune system.
Anemia is a condition brought about by insufficient intake of iron. If not treated in time it may lead to serious complications. This fruit can be one of the companions for people with anemia as iron rich apricots make an excellent food for people with anemia. Small but significant amount of copper in the fruit makes iron available to the body.
Help reduce fever: Apricots are very good to deal with fever. Mix, a little honey and apricots with some drinking water and consume to helps abate the fever. It is also satisfying to thirst and effectively eliminates waste products from the body.
Resistance against infections: Dried apricots contain significant amount of Vitamin C, another natural anti-oxidant. This is an essential anti-oxidant that protects the cells from oxidation as well as eliminate free radicals that cause cancer. Vitamin C is also essential for protection of teeth, bones, skin, connective tissues and also helps in iron absorption.
Good for the heart: Apricots are a good source of minerals such as potassium, iron, zinc, calcium and manganese. Potassium is a heart healthy mineral, an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate the heart rate and blood pressure.
Carotenes: Apricots also contain carotenes which help protect the body from lungs, oral cavity cancers and various other cancers. One of the most important anti-oxidants is beta carotene, this is precursor to Vitamin A and is known to play an important role in the body. Dried apricots contain beta carotene which is helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, skin disorders, cataracts, age related macular degeneration(specially in elderly people), headache and many more. Although helpful, those who take beta carotene over the counter have high chances of developing cancer or heart disease.
Good for digestion: Dried apricot is essential for the body as they help to ease and prevent constipation. These compounds are gentle laxatives that will help those prone to constipation. Dried apricots are known to trigger alkaline reaction and thus improving digestion. To get relief from constipation one should take an apricot before meals to aid digestive health.
Other Health Benefits
Liberal consumption of apricots also helps increase the hemoglobin production in the body. It is also ideal for women after their menstrual cycle. Dried apricots last longer and are available through out the year.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna