Apricots have a smooth velvety skin, soft flesh, and a naturally sweet flavor. They are a rich source of vitamins, especially beta-carotene, which is responsible for giving apricots their natural yellow-orange color.
1) Rich Source of Vitamins: A 1-ounce serving of dried apricots contains 40 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV) of vitamin A and 8 percent DV of vitamin E. Dried apricots are extremely rich in carotenoids like beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in your body. It is essential in supporting our immune system and promoting good eye health. Vitamin E plays an important role in protecting the cardiovascular system, nourishing our cells, and aiding the healing process.
2) Benefits of Vitamin E: A 2012 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that snacking on dried apricots, almonds, and peanuts could reduce the risk of liver cancer in middle-aged and older people. Each of these foods is a rich source of vitamin E, which has been previously shown to support heart health and slow the progression of eye damage in elderly patients.
3) Powerful Potassium: A 1-ounce serving of dried apricots contains 9 percent DV of potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that stimulates brain function, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and regulates blood pressure. According to Colorado State University Extension, Americans do not meet the recommended dietary intake of potassium, and a diet low in potassium and high in sodium can increase the risk factors for heart disease.
4) Invincible Iron: A 1/2 cup portion of dried apricots contains 8% DV of iron. Iron plays an essential role in blood production and helps to deliver oxygen throughout our cells. Eating foods rich in iron prevents fatigue and conditions like anemia in which the blood lacks healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body.
10 Uses for Dried Apricots
1) Press almonds inside dried apricots for an easy and healthy appetizer
2) Mix dried apricots with nuts and other snacks in a trail mix
3) Toss a salad with apricot pieces for a touch of natural sweetness
4) Stew dried apricots for a fruit compote to top crepes or French toast
5) Make stuffed baked apples with a delectable dried apricot filling
6) Try chocolate dipped apricots for a decadent sweet treat
7) Add chopped dried apricots as a topping to ice cream or frozen yogurt
8) Assemble a gorgeous fruit platter with dried apricots and other fruits
9) Bake biscotti or scones with the addition of dried apricot pieces
10) Top a bowl of oatmeal with dried apricots for a vitamin boost
How are apricots harvested?
Since apricots ripen on the tree at different times over the course of several days, the ripe fruits may be hand-picked before the others are ready. Towards the end of the harvest, remaining apricots are usually coaxed from the trees using mechanical shakers, and catchers are used to collect the falling fruit before they are transferred to bins. Damaged fruit is often removed from the batches before they are sent off to processing facilities, where the fruit is further examined, cleaned, and sorted by size and quality. For drying purposes, apricots may be pretreated with sulfur to maintain their color, flavor, and vitamin content.
The apricot belongs to the rose family, along with peaches and almonds. It is believed that the first apricots originated in India possibly as far back as 3000 BC. Alexander the Great introduced apricots to Greece from China, and the apricot crop was cultivated around the world for centuries before Spanish missionaries brought it to America in the late 1800s. Today, California accounts for over 90 percent of apricot production in the United States.