Nutritional Qualities of Apricots: Cooking, Baking, Vitamins and Minerals

What’s your favourite, absolutely favourite fruit? If I had to pick one, then certainly the apricot would be in with a fighting chance (although it would inevitably lose out to the blueberry. Or the pomegranate. Or the greengage. Or…)



What is it about apricots? Perhaps their really haunting, beautiful scent, stronger and more alluring than most other fruits (at least when properly ripe, which they rarely are when bought from a supermarket – get them fully ripe, soft and delicious from your local market instead, I urge you!.)



They are also beautiful little fruits, ranging from pale yellow through to deep velvety orange with the occasional blush of red and pink, and that delicate fuzz that only a very good complexion on a human can replicate!



Apricots are a stone tree fruit, belonging to Rosaceae, the same family as apples, plums, peaches etc., and more narrowly to the Prunus genus. A pleasure to cook and bake with, they are more commonly associated with sweet dishes such as apricot cobbler or apricot and almond traybake, but also go well with meats and cheeses in many dishes and make good stuffings. (And apricot white Stilton is heavenly!)


But what about the nutritional and health aspects of apricots? Just taking a look at their coloration, it’s not surprising to learn that they are a great source of the phytochemical beta-carotene, a Vitamin A precursor that belongs to the carotenoid class of phytochemical compounds. That could be a good thing: a study by Stahl & Krutmann in 2006 found good evidence via their meta-study that assertions of the ultra-violet light damage protecting abilities of beta-carotene are potentially well-grounded (although possibly limited in scope).[3] I don’t know about you, but protection from sun damage sounds like a pretty sweet deal in return for adding some yummy dried fruit to my morning muesli. Apricots for health and beautiful skin, girls! Get your sweet apricots here! Just kidding…


In addition to this healthy benefit, raw apricots also offer 3 grams of fiber - 12 per cent of the daily value - and just 1 gram of fat per 155 gram portion – sounds pretty good, huh? Especially if you’re feeling a little, ahem, bunged up, or looking to reduce the fat content of your diet. Raw apricots’ mineral and vitamin content is also notable for the potassium, Vitamin A precursor and Vitamin C content, according to the Nutritiondata website. Some nutrients may be even more densely packed when the fruit is dried.[4]


Apricots aren’t the cheapest dried fruit you can locate, but that little bundle of orange nutrition seems like a pretty good deal to me. I don’t know about you, but I just might go out and buy myself a packet today!




References


[1] Parlakpinarb, H., Ozfurka, F., Atesc, B, Gula, M., Cetina, A, Erdoganc, A, Otlua, A. 'Potent protective effect of apricot and β-carotene on methotrexate-induced intestinal oxidative damage in rats'. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 46;9: September 2008, pp. 3015-3022


[2] Haas, E.M., Levin, B. 'Staying healthy with nutrition: the complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine.' Berkeley; Celestial Arts: 2006, p.303.


[3] Baumann, L. 'Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice'. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.: 2009, p.53.


[4] Nutritondata. 'Apricots, raw [Includes USDA commodity food A386]'. Nutritiondata website. 2009. Available at <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1827/2> Accessed on 18/10/2010.

Apricots!

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