Dried Apricots' Health Benefits
By Soon Chai
You can eat apricots raw, cooked, dried, or canned. But dried apricots will benefit you even more.
In making dried apricots, fresh apricots are stripped of their water content without tampering with their nutrient qualities. And do you know that 5 pounds of fresh apricots produce only one pound of dried apricots?
For this reason, dried apricots carry a much higher concentration level of nutrients than any other forms.
But the goodness doesn't stop here.
They are also rich sources of beta carotene (plant form of vitamin A) - a fat-soluble nutrient found in dark green leafy vegetables and fruits like carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. However, if you drink canned apricot juice, you'll get less than 50% beta carotene of the dried form.
You can also obtain potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, and vitamin C from apricots.
Despite their high sugar content and calories level over the fresh, they are nonetheless the preferred choice as a compact and convenient source of nutrients.
Organic Dried Apricots
Have you ever come across the brown dried apricots apart from the more commonly seen orange ones?
Their difference in colors can tell you which one is tastier.
You might also wonder why their colors are different. Here's the reason.
Non-organic apricots are treated with sulfur dioxide before drying in order to prevent the fruits from oxidation, thus preserving their rich orange color.
This chemically-processed treatment produces sulfites and may in turn trigger asthma attack in certain people. Therefore, if you are allergic to sulfites, avoid orange dried apricots.
Look out for the brown organic dried apricots, they are the healthy ones without sulfites that also carry a yummy caramel taste.
So now you know the difference. Which would you rather buy, the unpleasant-looking brown or deceptively nice-looking orange? Whatever your choice is, remember to brush or rinse your teeth after eating them because dried apricots are stickier than fresh ones.
Other Benefits of Apricots
Treat Constipation – Apricots can act as gentle laxative due to its cellulose and pectin content. Hence, if you suffer from chronic constipation, consume 6 to 8 apricots per day should help improve your condition.
Ease Indigestion – As they produce an alkaline reaction on the body system, they can help you to digest better if you take some before meal. Just make sure you don't take too much so as not to disturb your proper meal consumption.
Good for Anemia – Anemia is a condition whereby the blood has a lower-than-normal concentration of red blood cells (RBCs) or the RBCs have a below average amount of hemoglobin. This condition is most commonly caused by iron deficiency. Since dried apricots contain high content of iron, they're usually included in the treatment of Anemia.
Fight Fevers – Apricot juice with glucose or honey can help cool your body during fever. It can also quench your thirst, eliminate the waste products from your body, tone up your eyes, stomach, liver, heart and nerves by supplying vitamins and minerals.
Treat Skin Diseases – You can use apricot leaves to treat scabies, eczema, sunburn and itching of your skin due to cold exposure.
Avoid Fat Deposits – As apricots are low in calories and fats, you can purée canned apricots in a blender until smooth and use it as substitute for oil, prunes or applesauce in high-calorie, high-fat recipes.
Despite its vast beneficial contribution to our health, I wanted to bring to your attention that over-consuming apricot seeds raw can fatally poison you. Since 1957, Turkey, a big apricot country, has reported 9 cases of lethal poisoning from apricot seeds. Scary, huh?
If you've been loving the seeds for years, it's time to kick that craving. Preventive measures on how many seeds a person can take before they gets poisoned are still unclear. So, better be safe than be sorry.
Selection & Storage of Apricots
Ripe apricots – Choose ones whose surfaces are smooth, plump, firm but not hard. The color should be nice yellow to orange and exude a sweet fragrance.
As ripe apricots are easily perishable, store them in the fridge and eat them within two days.
If you need to keep them through the year, you should cut the ripe fruits into half, wrap them up in baking sheet and freeze. Only remove the portion you need from the freezer.
As they are soft and easily bruised, handle them with care.
Unripe apricots – They can be kept in a paper bag with an apple in cool place away from sunlight and they will ripen within two to four days.
When they yield to gentle pressure, they are ready to eat.
Wash apricots only when you want to eat them.
Ripe apricots are delicate and soft so be extra gentle when you peel them.
One tactic is to leave them in boiling water for just 15 to 20 seconds, before transferring them to cold/ice water. The skin should slip right off using a knife.
To halve apricots, cut down to the pit around the longitudinal seam and twist the two halves to separate them.
To prevent cut or peeled apricots from browning, dip them into diluted lemon juice.