In Pursuit of Health: Apricots
Apricots are a delicious fruit that you can either eat fresh or dried. Eaten fresh they are soft and juicy. While apricots are small in size, they are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants important for our health.
Apricots are a source of polyphenolic antioxidants such as flavonoids, which have been shown have numerous health benefits.
Good Source of both Vitamin C and Vitamin A
Apricots are a good source of Vitamin C. Studies indicate vitamin C can help with acne and this is because of two main properties; it is an antioxidant and its role in collagen synthesis. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps to remove harmful free radicals which cause damage to the skin. Too many free radicals cause oxidative stress and in turn inflammation in the body, resulting in many chronic diseases.
Free radicals break down the proteins and fatty acids which make the skin, this, in turn, disturbs the normal pH of the skin.
Acne is often caused as a result of a build of sebum. Free radicals harm the sebaceous gland, causing an increase in sebum production, which also leaves the skin open to bacterial infections.
Studies indicate that vitamin C's antioxidant properties can reduce the redness and scaring, associated with acne, due to its wound and anti-inflammatory abilties.
Furthermore, Vitamin C is believed to be beneficial for diabetes; this is because they support the processing of glucose and insulin.
Research also suggests that vitamin C may help in the prevention of cancer. It is believed that the antioxidants found in Vitamin C help by blocking the formation of nitrosamines, improving the immune system, and accelerating the rate of detoxification of liver enzymes.
Apricots are also a source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is fat soluble, and it helps support our vision, skin and immune system.
There are two forms of vitamin A found in the diet.
- Preformed vitamin A is found in animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy foods.
- Provitamin A is found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. The most important type of pro-vitamin A is beta-carotene. The body converts these plant pigments into vitamin A.
Vitamin A is used in many acne treatments. The reason Vitamin A is commonly used is because it is responsible for protecting the body's immune system. Vitamin A helps to reduce the amount of oil your skin produces, suppresses androgen formation and protect fats from oxidation (limiting inflammation and cell damage).
Beta-Carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A, is said to have cancer preventing properties. While it is suggested over consumption of beta-carotene can lead to toxicity in the body.
There are two types of iron, heme iron and non-heme iron.
Heme Iron is only found in aminal meat more easily absorbed by the body at a rate of 7-35%. However, this depends on factors such as; whether or not you are iron deficient and the foods you eat.
Whereas, all plant based foods only contain Non-heme iron. The rate of absorption of non-heme iron is 2-20% and for this reason, it is recommended vegetarians and vegans have a higher daily intake.
Studies have found that non-heme iron is a healthier source of iron than heme. Studies have found that heme iron found in animal meat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Research believes the reason for why heme iron contributes to such diseases is because the body is unable to control the absorption of heme iron unlike with non-heme iron. Heme iron is absorbed at a much faster rate and once it is absorbed, it is likely to contribute to the result of oxidised LDLs, causing tissue-damaging inflammation, which is a potential risk factor for CHD.
Most dried fruits contain this type of iron.
High in Fiber
Apricots are a great source of fibre. The soluble fibre found in apricots is beneficial for our heart.
The high fiber content helps to reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol content in the body, in turn lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
At the same time, it also helps you increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.
Protect against Inflammation
As mentioned above, apricots are a source of phytonutrients. One of the phytonutrients found in apricots is catechins. Research suggests that these phytonutrients are potent anti-inflammatory nutrients and can improve our health.
Studies have found catechins inhibit oxidation, vascular inflammation, atherogenesis, and thrombogenesis. While also managing lipid levels and vascular reactivity, therefore suggesting their importance in cardiovascular health.
A single apricot will provide you with 4-5 grams from catechins.
Low Glycemic Index
Apricots have a low Glycemic Index (GI) making them a great fruit for women with PCOS who are also often insulin resistant. A low GI means that they will not cause a sharp increase in blood sugar levels and, in turn, insulin.
Fresh apricots have a GI of 34, whereas dried apricots have an even lower GI of 30.
Dried apricots have a significant amount of potassium. Potassium has been shown to relax blood vessels and in turn lowering blood pressure.
Fresh or Dried?
Many people tend to avoid eating dried fruit because it is believed to be high in sugar. However, they are not 'bad' or 'unhealthy.'
When the water in fruit has been removed, the size of decreases, about three-quarters. Therefore, if you dehydrate one cup of fresh apricots, you’ll get 1/4 cup of dried apricots.
If you are comparing calories and sugar, they are pretty much equivalent. One cup of fresh apricot halves has 74 calories and 14.5 grams of naturally occurring sugar; 1/4 cup of dried apricots halves has 78 calories and 17 g of sugar.
It is much easier to overeat on dried fruit than fresh fruit, due to the water content, making it more filling. Therefore, if you are watching your calorie intake, know your servings, measure out 1/4 cup of dried fruit before eating.
Dried fruits contain more fiber, which studies have shown helps manage insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, they contain more of the antioxidants called phenols than fresh fruit, per ounce. Phenols can help fight heart disease, obesity, and some types of cancer.
Furthermore, however, dried fruits contain sulfur dioxide to help preserve, both the fruits colour and shelf life. Research suggests that while it can be used, those who have asthma or an sulphite allergy should avoid.
Ways to eat Apricots
- Eaten whole or chopped up on its own.
- Add with oatmeal
- Add to your yoghurt bowl
- Add to your salads
- Add to your main meals
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