Latin name: Prunus armeniaca
What is an Apricot?
A relative of the peach, the apricot is a small, orangey fruit with a smooth and sweet taste. While the native origin is sometimes stated as China, the apricot was known in Armenia during ancient times, and is generally thought to be native there, which is how its scientific name came to be Prunus armenaica. Apricots are enjoyed as a fresh fruit, but also dried, cooked into pastry, and eaten as jam.
What are the health benefits of Apricots?
In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst. Apricots were a staple food of the famously long-lived Hunza people discovered in the Himalaya mountains, and they used every part: the fruit was eaten raw in season and sun-dried for winter; the kernel inside the pit was crushed to make oil for cooking and lamps; the hard shell was used for fire fuel; and the kernel and oil could be eaten from the variety of apricots with a sweet kernel.
Nutritionally, apricots are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and potassium. Vitamin A promotes good vision, making apricots beneficial for eyesight support. Due to their high fiber to volume ratio, dried apricots are sometimes used to relieve constipation or induce diarrhea; it can take as little as three to feel the effects. Apricots also contain phytochemicals called carotenoids, antioxidant compounds that give them their characteristic orangey yellow coloring and may help prevent heart disease, reduce “bad cholesterol” levels, and protect against cancer.
Apricot kernels, according to Chinese medicine, tone the respiratory system, cure coughs and asthma, and contain high levels of essential fatty acids.
Are there any precautions for Apricots?
One caution about apricot kernels: the tip holds a concentration of the chemical laetrile, which can cause upset to the system. To reap their benefits safely, remove the tips of the seeds before eating and limit your intake to five a day.
More information about the healing powers of Apricot Kernel can be found in the Herb section.
Where can I find Apricots?
Apricot can be found in grocery stores and farmer’s markets; they are at their best in the summer.
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