The sweet, small apricot originated in Asia about 4000 years ago. This Asian delicacy was first brought to Europe by the ancient Greeks calling them “golden eggs of the sun”. It journeyed through the Persian Empire and the Mediterranean and later brought to the New World by Spanish explorers. The Chinese called it “moons of the faithful” as it is thought to enhance women’s fertility. Today, the major producers of apricots are Greece, Iran, Turkey, Spain, Italy, France and China. California produces more than 95 percent of apricot grown in the U.S.
Belonging to the Rosaceae family of fruit trees, apricot is closely related to plums and peaches. Their scientific name is Prunus Armenia. It is called praecocquum in Latin which means “early-ripening peach”. Of the summer orchard fruits, apricots are the first to ripen. They have a very brief season that lasts from mid-May to mid-August.
Apricot is a deciduous medium size tree which bears plenty of very light pinkish flowers during springtime. The fruit is a drupe consisting of a single seed and encased in a crunchy, sweet-smelling edible flesh. The seed is protected by a hard shell, normally referred to as “stone”. It has a smooth flesh with a vibrant color, delicate and aromatic. They may come in orange or yellow or sometimes in lovely blush of red. Its sweetness comes from three types of sugars, namely sucrose, glucose and fructose.
Fresh apricots are low in calories and with zero sodium and cholesterol content, but they are an abundant source of minerals such as potassium, zinc, manganese, calcium and Iron. It is also a storehouse of dietary fiber that help support digestive health. The soluble fibers aid in controlling cholesterol levels.
This super fruit is full of health promoting phytochemicals to help prevent heart disease, reduce bad cholesterol levels and also provide protection against cancer. It helps the body in developing resistance against harmful free radicals with its rich supply of vitamin C. To maintain good eyesight, skin and healthy mucus membrane, having apricot on your diet will give you the needed amount of vitamin A and carotenes. Consuming fruits that are rich in carotenes protects the body from lung cancer. Apricot holds a good source of catechins which are phytonutrients that are powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients.
When taken as food, apricot is safe and must be in moderation. As a safety measure, persons with asthma are advised to avoid eating dried apricot which is said to contain chemical preservative called sulfites that can cause acute bronchospasm. Pregnant and nursing women are to avoid taking apricot as a medication.
Fresh apricot is best eaten right out of your hand, but have you tried grilling them? Yummy! That’s all I can say.
Stay healthy. Eat organic. Have fun.
Photo by: http://www.photo-dictionary.com/photofiles/list/447/820apricot.jpg