Apricots are one of the healthiest fruits we can eat. Dried or fresh they have a beautiful colour and not only sweeten food but also provide important nutrition. Dried apricots are rich in potassium while the fresh fruit contains a beneficial amount of beta-carotene.
Potassium helps to prevent and regulate high blood pressure, but a higher intake than is typical of a Western diet is needed so munching on dried apricots is an easy way to obtain the amount needed. Foods high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant, have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts, stroke, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. One of the best fruits to provide this valuable antioxidant is fresh apricots that have a dark-orange colour.
Apricots are rich in soluble fibre and studies have found that a high intake of soluble fibre can slow digestion, which helps to steady blood sugar and energy levels, and can also help to lower cholesterol.
As many people know, apricots help prevent and treat constipation and this is also because of the soluble fibre the fruit contains.
This delicious fruit can be eaten freely, however around 40 grams of dried apricots will provide adults with about 20% of the recommended daily intake of potassium. This amount will also provide more than 10% of the daily allowance of iron required for women and almost 20% for men. Apricots also contain Vitamin C, which helps absorb iron.
Hints: To remove most preservatives, it’s best to bring dried apricots to the boil for 5 minutes, drain, cover with fresh water, bring to the boil again and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until soft. Cooking fresh apricots only takes a couple of minutes and will not destroy the beta-carotene.
Warning: the fruit kernels can be toxic and dried apricots that are orange or bright-yellow are preserved using sulphur dioxide, which may have a detrimental affect in some asthma sufferers.