It's that time of year again, the summer fruits are starting to arrive. At the Organic Grocer we've got lovely apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries and mangoes, all with their own nutritional value. In this issue of our newsletter we are going to focus on apricots.
Apricots originated from China and were brought to the west by Alexander the Great. One of our most important fruits, apricots have numerous health benefits and curative properties and are enjoyed world-wide. Let's take a look at the benefits of certified organic apricots:
- Apricots are a fantastic source of vitamin A, and a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fibre, iron and potassium.
- Apricots promote good vision due to beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant which reduces free radical damage to cells and tissue. The degenerative effect of free radicals, or oxidative stress, may lead to cataracts or damage the blood supply to the eyes.
- Apricots are know as a healthy heart food as they have a high beta carotene and lycopene activity, which helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may then help in the prevention of heart disease. Also apricots can increase your levels of iron, potassium, magnesium and copper, which are important in controlling your blood pressure.
- To maximize the benefits of apricots, they should be eaten with foods that are rich in vitamin C, so that the iron absorption can be increased.
- Apricots are known to relieve constipation, as they are a good source of fibre and are generally favoured as a gentle laxative. This is due to their cellulose and pectin content. So if you suffer from chronic constipation, it is recommended that you eat six to eight apricots per day, to help relieve the problem.
- As apricots have a high content of iron, they are an excellent fruit for those suffering from anemia. Essential amounts of copper in the fruit make iron available to the body. Liberal intake of apricots could increase hemoglobin production in the body.
- Apricots contain lycopene, an amazing carotenoid that can help prevent prostate and breast cancer.
- Beta carotene could also help to reduce the risk of stomach and intestinal cancers.
- The B vitamins in dried apricots may help protect you from Alzheimer's and age related mental problems, such as memory loss.
- A handful of dried apricots supplies one-fifth of an adult's daily potassium requirements and between 10 to 20% of their iron needs.
- Apricots may aid in the digestion process, as they contain an alkaline reaction in the digestion system.
- Apricots helps tone up the stomach, liver, heart and nerves by supplying them with minerals and vitamins.
- Apricots are known to be an excellent diet food providing a large amount of healthful nutrition to the body as well as keeping down caloric intake. They contain no fat and a small amount of carbs.
- Juice from the apricot leaves can be applied with beneficial results in the treatment of scabies, eczema, sunburn and itching of the skin due to cold exposure.
- Although eating apricots cannot guarantee you will live a longer life, recent research shows that apricots may help you live a better, healthier life.
- Be aware that commercially grown dried apricots may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing. They may also be treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life. They are addn adverse reaction in sulfite sensitive people. They may also bring on a life threatening allergic reaction in asthma suffers. This is another great reason to choose certified organic produce as this industry prohibits the use of sulfites.
How to select and store apricots -
- Apricots are those beautifully orange coloured fruits with velvety skin and flesh, not too juicy but definitely smooth and sweet.
- Look for an orange coloured fruit. Avoid pale, yellow or greenish.
- Greenish apricots are low in carotenes and will never ripen satisfactorily at home.
- Always look for fairly firm, plump, well-formed fruit that gives slightly when pressure is applied.
- Avoid buying very soft fruits.
- Store ripe apricots in the fridge, unripe apricots will ripen at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
- Fully ripe fruit is soft to touch, juicy and should be eaten as soon as possible.
- Place hard apricots in a paper bag and let them ripen for a day or two.
- Refrigerated apricots may last up to two weeks.
- Remember apricots are very delicate when ripe, bruise easily and deteriorate quickly if not refrigerated.
Apricots can be made into excellent jam, jelly, marmalades and preserves. You can eat it straight from the tree or dried, however you like, it is one of the most nutritious fruits around!