A powerhouse of nutrients
Apricot fruits are immensely beneficial for all- from babies to the aged – in various ways. The fruit can also protect against diabetes, cancer, heart diseases and asthma
By FM Bureau
Apricots are small orange-coloured fruits with a sweet flavour. The flavor is not overly sweet but tilts towards a little tart. Apricots have a smooth skin and flesh and are eaten fresh in dried form and as jams, jellies and other preserves as well.
The scientific name of the apricot fruit is Prunus armenaica. The origin of the apricot fruit is disputed. Some experts say it first originated in China and later arrived in Asia and Europe, and then spread to other parts of the world while others attribute Armenia as the place where apricots were first cultivated.
Health benefits of apricot
Apricots are a powerhouse of nutrients that benefit not only in severe medical conditions but in maintaining overall health as well.
Apricot fruit is packed with antioxidants that protect the skin against free radical damage. Free radicals are compounds that can cause premature ageing. Apricot is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C that are essential for good skin health. Regular consumption of apricots helps in maintaining smooth appearance of skin. However, it is also useful in severe skin conditions such as scabies and eczema.
Apricot oil when applied on skin helps in keeping the skin supple and soft. The skin absorbs apricot oil fairly quickly and hence its application does not leave the skin looking oily. Face packs and scrubs made of apricots are good to apply on face as their effect is very gentle on the skin.
Apricot is considered a cancer-fighting fruit. The fruit’s protection against free radical damage is not only beneficial for skin but for cancer as well. Antioxidants in apricots prevent mutation of healthy body cells by neutralizing free radicals.
Apricots for diabetes
Most of sweet fruits are not recommended for people suffering from diabetes but there are several fruits that can be safely eaten in this condition. Apricot is one such fruit that is mildly sweet and one serving of it, which is roughly about four apricots, can provide a nutritious fruit option for people with diabetes.
Apricots for anemia
Apricots are good sources of iron and copper and thus its consumption aids in the treatment of anemia.
Treatment of asthma
Oil of the apricot fruit is considered beneficial in the treatment of asthma and its related symptoms. Dried apricots are also used in treating cases of asthma as well as of bronchitis and other lung disorders.
Beneficial for eye problems
Being a good source of carotenoids, apricots are believed to be beneficial in age-related eye problems.
Apricot fruit is a good source of dietary fiber, which makes it an excellent food that helps in lowering cholesterol levels in the body. Low cholesterol levels keep the heart well-functioning and healthy.
Pregnancy and infertility treatment
Consumed in moderation, both dried and fresh apricots are good for pregnant and lactating women. Dried apricots are considered beneficial in infertility treatments.
Apricots for babies
Apricot fruit is an excellent food source for babies. Infants at six months and older can consume both fresh and dried apricots. Best way to feed apricots to babies is by baking them or blanching them. Steaming the fruit is also another good option for apricot consumption for babies. Apricot puree is a food that infants can consume easily and is a very nutritious option for them as it is packed with nutrients that aid in their healthy growth.
A variety of dishes
Apricots can be used to make a variety of dishes and can be used to make healthy breakfast options. Being a sweet and juicy fruit, additional sugar is seldom required in sweet apricot dishes.
*For a basic smoothie that you can make in a hurry, just remove the pit from the apricot fruit and mix in a blender with a cup of yoghurt. Simply pour in a glass and gulp. You can add a few sprigs of saffron to the blend for added flavour.
*Soak some cashew nuts in water for 10-15 minutes. Add to pitted fresh apricot and low-fat yoghurt. Blend all three ingredients together and your smoothie is ready to consume.
*Soak cashew nuts, raisins, dried figs for 10-15 minutes and blend them with fresh apricots and yoghurt for a power-packed breakfast.
*Soak 2 tbsp of poppy seeds and make them into a paste. Mix with fresh apricots and yoghurt for a smoothie that can give extra boost to your hair and brain cells.
*Chop fresh apricot fruit on your regular cereal for a sugar-free breakfast option. Natural sugar found in apricots makes the use of refined sugar or other sugar substitutes unnecessary or at least decreases the total amount of extra sugar consumed with cereals.
*Add chopped or pureed fresh apricots to cooked oats for a nutrient rich start to your day.
*Blend together fresh apricots, honey and cooked oats and use the mixture to make pancakes.
*Chop fresh apricot, raisins, dried figs and dry coconut powder. Blend with cottage cheese and use this as a filling for sweet sandwiches or paranthas (Indian bread-like wheat preparation). Alternatively make the filling into small balls and wrap them with damp wheat bread and fry or bake and eat this scrumptious dish with sweet date chutney.
*Eat dried apricots to find relief from those evening hungry pangs.
*Cook fresh apricots in sugar syrup. When done, add cardamom powder, saffron and chopped dried almonds. Cool and serve with vanilla-flavored ice cream or eat as it is.
*Boil milk until it become half in quantity, add sugar and apricot pulp and mix well. Cool the mixture and pour in ice cream moulds. Freeze for a few hours till your apricot ice cream is ready.
*Add a bit of sugar and water to apricot pulp and pour it into ice cream moulds and freeze. Your dairy-free apricot ice cream is ready to eat in a few hours.
*Use apricot puree in basic sponge cake mixture for a scintillating flavour.
*Use fresh apricot pieces as a garnish for your cakes.
*Apricot fruits are a good option to use in tarts and other desserts that call for fresh fruits in their recipe.
*Chopped apricots add a sweet and a little tart flavour to custards.
*Fresh juice of apricots is another good use of this fruit.
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