Apricot Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Apricots

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Apricots provide several nutrients and health benefits. Although dried apricots are a fun and convenient snack, you may be wondering if their sugar content is too high to be considered a healthy snack. Choosing apricot products with no added sugar can help you reap the maximum benefit from this antioxidant-rich fruit.

Apricot Nutrition Facts

One raw apricot (35g) provides 17 calories, 0.5g of protein, 3.9g of carbohydrates, and 0.1g of fat. Apricots are a good source of potassium, vitamin A, and phosphorus. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 17
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 0.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Sugars: 3.2g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Potassium: 90.6mg
  • Vitamin A: 33.6mcg
  • Phosphorus: 8.1mg

Carbs

A fresh apricot has nearly 4 grams of carbohydrates, with just under 1 gram of fiber and a little over 3 grams of naturally occurring sugar. Dried apricots offer more naturally occurring sugar per serving, and they may also have sugar added during processing. So, it's always a good idea to review the food label.

The glycemic index of dried apricots (without added sugar) is still considered to be low, at around 42. A low glycemic rating means that this food should have minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

Fats

Apricots have minimal fat at only 0.1 grams per fruit. That makes them easy to fit into your diet even if you're limiting your fat intake.

Protein

At 0.5 grams, apricots provide just a small portion of the protein you need daily. While the pit of the fruit (often referred to as the kernel) is between 20% and 30% protein, it's not a good idea to eat it.

Some scientists are exploring ways to extract the protein and other nutrients from the apricot kernel. One study found that flour made from apricot kernel by-products can increase the nutritional quality of foods while also improving their texture and taste.

Vitamins and Minerals

Apricots are rich in potassium, phosphorus, and beta carotene, the latter of which the body converts to vitamin A. They also provide calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and folate.

Although dried fruit is a more concentrated source of calories and sugar, it also tends to be higher in vitamins and minerals. Dried apricots provide the same nutrients as fresh, in higher quantities.

Calories

Apricots are a low-calorie fruit, at only 17 calories each. As a comparison, one medium apple provides 104 calories. So, you could eat six fresh apricots and still consume fewer calories than a whole apple.

If you eat dried apricots, it's important to recognize that fruit loses volume when dried. This makes it easier to eat a larger portion. If you're watching your calorie intake, you may want to pre-portion your dried apricots so you don't eat more than you intend.

Summary

Apricots are low in calories and fat, but they can also be higher in sugar—especially if you eat them dried. Fresh apricots are a good source of potassium and phosphorus, as well as vitamin A.

Health Benefits

The fiber and other nutrients in apricots make them valuable for health and wellness in a variety of ways.

Aids Heart Health

Whether fresh or dried, apricots provide soluble fiber, which is a fiber that draws water into stool to help it move through the digestive tract. Eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day can lower LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) by up to 11 points, if not more.

Furthermore, the potassium in apricots helps reduces blood pressure. These two factors—along with the numerous anti-inflammatory polyphenols in apricots—offer cardiovascular benefits.

Assists Blood Sugar Control

Dried apricots are often consumed in conjunction with nuts, such as in trail mixes. Nuts slow the gastric emptying rate and release of glucose to the bloodstream due to their natural fat content.

When nuts are combined with low-to-medium glycemic index dried fruits, including apricots, the rise and fall of blood sugar is more even. For people trying to avoid blood sugar fluctuations, eating dried apricots and nuts together can be a healthy snack.

Protects Eyesight

Along with other orange fruits and vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, and mango, apricots owe their rich hue to beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A that's been associated with the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that can progress over time and lead to vision loss. Making a habit of consuming beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables may help provide protection against the disease.

May Reduce Risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases

The flavonoid quercetin is found in many fruits, including apricots. Rutin, a component of quercetin, shows promise in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and prion diseases.

While more research is needed, increasing apricot consumption could reduce the burden of certain neurological conditions. Some of the mechanisms by which they can help include genetic modulation (upregulation of beneficial genes and downregulation of harmful genes), reduction of proinflammatory cytokines, and enhanced antioxidant activity.

May Help Prevent Cancer

Apricots contain several phytonutrients that act as antioxidants—including polyphenols, flavonoids, and beta-carotene. These can protect your cells from the day-to-day damage that may lead to cancer over time.

It is no secret that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is beneficial for cancer prevention. Apricots make a great addition to an antioxidant-rich meal plan.

Allergies

Apricot food allergies are rare, but not impossible. You may be more likely to experience an apricot allergy if you are allergic to related fruits in the Rosaceae family, especially peaches, cherries, apples, and almonds.

Speak to your doctor if you notice allergy symptoms, like hives, itchiness, or swelling in the face, after eating apricots. Seek emergency medical attention if you have trouble breathing, feel faint, or experience a more severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Adverse Effects

Apricots are naturally high in components referred to as FODMAPs. For individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), FODMAPs are poorly digested and result in gastrointestinal discomfort.

People who are sensitive to sulfites should use caution with commercially dried apricots, as they may be treated with sulfur-containing compounds during processing. Sulfites may cause harm to healthy gut bacteria.

It is important to remove the stone (a.k.a. pit or kernel) of apricots as it is not edible. In fact, the kernel inside the shell of the pit contains the poisonous compound amygdalin and can cause cyanide poisoning.

If you notice diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, or other unpleasant reactions to eating apricots, see your doctor or a specialist for a full evaluation.

Varieties

There are several varieties of apricots that vary in size, color, and taste. Some examples include Goldrich, Rival, Perfection, Chinese/Mormon, Moorpark, and Tilton.

Certain varieties can be mixed with others, creating hybrid apricots with unique properties. Speak to vendors at your local farmer's market to find out more about the apricots that are available in your area.

When It's Best

Apricots can be purchased fresh, dried, canned, and in jams, spreads, and preserves any time of the year. Find these products in supermarkets, gift shops, or farmer's markets.

Dried apricots can be purchased in the grocery store next to other dried fruit, such as raisins and cranberries. When purchasing dried, jellied, or canned apricots, look for unsweetened products for the most nutritional value.

Fresh apricots are in season during spring and summer. Choose fresh apricots that have a rich, orange uniform color. Avoid fruit that is pale or has any yellow on it as it is not yet ripe.

Apricots should be slightly soft but firm to the touch. Avoid fruit with bruises, blemishes, or mold.

Storage and Food Safety

Fresh apricots can be stored at room temperature and should be eaten within a few days. Wash them under running water before eating or cutting them.

Once you slice an apricot, store the pieces covered in the refrigerator and consume them within a couple of days. If you don't plan on eating apricots right away, store them whole and unwashed in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

There are several options for preserving fresh apricots at home. Prior to freezing, canning, or dehydrating apricots, wash them and remove the pits. Then place them in a solution of 1 gallon of water and 3 grams of ascorbic acid. This prevents browning.

Ascorbic acid can be purchased as vitamin C tablets, fruit juice dips, powdered forms, or commercial mixes.

Apricot nectar and canned apricots can be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to four years. At 70 degrees Fahrenheit, these products will last two years. Dried apricots last two years at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and three months at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have any concerns about the integrity of your apricots, always remember the food safety motto: "When in doubt, throw it out."

How to Prepare

Apricots can be eaten whole—skin and all (minus the pit). The only time you may want to remove the skin is if you are using apricots to make baked goods, since the skin can change the texture and appearance of your finished product.

Enjoy apricots by themselves as a snack or chop them up and add them to yogurt, cottage cheese, or hot cereal. A few dried apricots pair well with a handful of nuts for a filling and fiber-rich post-workout or energy-boosting midday snack.

Apricots can also be used in dessert recipes, fruit spreads, and sauces. Apricot preserves are great as glazes for meats. Experiment with this versatile fruit to add flavor and nutrients to your favorite recipes.

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18 Sources
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