Apricots are not only a rich source of vitamins A and C, dietary fibre and potassium, they are also a delicious addition to your everyday diet. By Swati Chopra Vikamsey
Mary was making apricot jam. She put all the apricots in the pot and stirred them up. Then she remembered she had to add one ounce of lemon juice for every two apricots! How did she figure out how much lemon juice to put? She counted the pits! If that mind twister hasn’t got you interested in apricots just as yet, here’s some more bait: Fresh apricots are significantly low in calories; they have just 50 calories per 100 g. They’re also enriched with numerous health promoting phytochemicals.
HIGH ON HEALTH
“An excellent source of vitamin A and carotenes, apricots are rich in antioxidants, potassium and fibre,” says Niti Desai, consultant nutritionist, Cumballa Hill Hospital, Mumbai. The medicinal value of the super food extends to a healthy vision and helps you fight eye degeneration diseases. Apricots also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness, thanks to their high vitamin C content. Stocking up on the fruit also helps you lessen the risk of certain cancers due to the beta carotene present in it. The apricot kernel, rich in vitamin B17, relieves arthritic pain. Additionally, apricots are a good source of fibre, which has a wealth of benefits like preventing constipation and digestive conditions such as diverticulitis.
“The vitamins and lycopene make apricots beneficial for your skin. The fruit helps treatdamaged skin when used as a scrub, and also aids in reducing wrinkles. Apricots also help maintain skin elasticity and have moisturising properties,” says Niti. “Massage your hair with a combination of apricot and coconut oils to cure a dry, flaky scalp and restore shine.” Apricot oil, obtained from the dried seeds of the fruit, has skin-softening effects that can be attributed to its high vitamin C content. It is an excellent moisturiser for hair, face and hands, and can cure damaged skin without undesirable side effects. The flesh is beneficial in clearing acne, and the juice of apricot leaves helps get rid of itching caused by sunburn, eczema and scabies.
Though fresh apricots are in season only during the late summer and specifically in the northern regions, the dried version is available around the year. Thankfully, the nutrients generally stay intact. However, sulphite preservatives, commonly found on dried apricots destroy thiamine (vitamin B1). Sulphites also cause adverse reactions in a rare percentage of the population who may be sulphur-sensitive. The boiling and steaming that are part of the drying process may also cause a reduction in vitamin C. “Though the fruit loses most of its water content through the drying process, it does offer some benefits when compared to fresh fruit like all-year-long availability. However, dried apricots are high in sugar and should be consumed as a snack rather than at meal times,” suggests Niti. “Dried apricots are high in calories, so watch the portion size. Also, they are an absolute no for diabetics. Bingeing on the kernels is also not advisable.”
Apricots help reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness, thanks to their high vitamin C content. The kernel, rich in vitamin B17, relieves arthritic pain.
• 2 cups dried apricots
• 1 cup desiccated coconut
• 1 tbsp lemon peel, grated
• 1 tbsp orange grated peel
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1 tsp orange juice (optional)
In a food processor, blend the apricots, coconut, lemon peel and orange peel for two minutes.
Sprinkle 1 table spoon of sugar on the work surface.
Knead the apricot mixture about 15 to 20 times, until smooth.
Add orange juice if necessary, to moisten the mixture. Shape into 1” balls and roll in remaining sugar. Store in an airtight container.