Apricot Health Benefits
Apricots or prunus armeniaca are classified along with plums, under the subgenus prunus. They have been cultivated for a long time, albeit the origin of their cultivation is still unknown. Apricots are similar to peaches in that they have an orange to yellow color, with shades of red when exposed to the sun. Originally, apricots were grown in ancient Armenia and Persia; now, they are grown across the world in many places. Apricots grow well in continental and Mediterranean climates.
Benefits of apricots
This sweet, rich fruit of the Greeks is well known for its health benefits. Apart from being rich in fiber, is contains beta carotene, an antioxidant that inhibits free radical damage of the cells and tissues. Apricots are also rich in minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, and zinc. These minerals help in maintaining the hormonal balance, regulating heart rate, and keep blood pressure in control. The dietary fiber aids in digestion and fights constipation. Additionally, its antioxidant properties make it effective to improve immunity, enhance general well-being, and keep eye problems at bay.
It is not just the fruit that is beneficial, dry apricots, apricot seeds, and apricot oil have many medicinal uses as well. Dried apricots are rich in nutrients, and naturally dried fruits are darker in color than the artificially dried ones. Apricot seeds are sweet in taste and often used instead of almonds. Apricot oil is mild and mostly used in baby care products. It is light colored with a nutty aroma and used in lotions, balms, and cosmetics.
- Dry apricots, apricot seeds, and the leaves are considered potent against tumors and cancers. Some studies suggest that laetrile (vitamin B17) extracted from the seeds helps fight cancers. Other studies, however, claim that apricots contain cyanide and when taken in large quantities can be dangerous.
- The seeds are also used to treat pain in the joints and arthritis.
- Apricot seeds also enhance the immune system and help in the prevention of colds and the flu.
- The antioxidants present in the seeds slow aging of the skin and improve skin tone.
- With its rich vitamin E content, the oil is excellent for skin care as is known to permeate the skin without making it feel oily. Apricot oil is used widely for body massage.
- Apricot is also utilized as an anti-tussive and anti-asthmatic, and is also used in treating dermatitis, eczema, and inflammation of the skin.
While apricot is safe for consumption as food, its side effects when used for treating a medical condition are not entirely known. In the case of pregnant and breastfeeding women, it is best to avoid its use or speak with a doctor.