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Health Food of the month - Apricots

July 2017

aprictos

Apricots for the true taste of summer


Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Broad beans

Kiwi fruit

Cabbage


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Summer in the UK is wonderful time for fresh fruits and apricots are one of the best.

These fabulous little yellow and orange velvety balls are full of fragrant flavour and adapt so well to deserts and savoury recipes too. They are affordable, the skin is edible and the inside large kernel drops out easily making apricots one of the easiest fruits to eat or cook with.

They actually originate from China and then headed west, reaching Armenia first in Europe. This is why the official name for an apricot is prunus armenaica. They then spread across the continent and over to America. In Britain Henry VIII loved apricots and his gardener sourced and brought in some apricot trees from Italy in 1542.

Since then they have been a popular fruit although they can be difficult to grow. They need a warm climate, hence they are only a summer fruit here, and can be prone to rot and canker. Despite that, apricots are now grown extensively in the UK and the season is now well underway.

Apart from the taste and versatility, apricots have an added bonus - they offer tremendous health benefits.

They contain a lot of potent antioxidants . They are a very good source of both vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, plus polyphenolic antioxidants such as flavonoids which have been linked to reductions in heart disease and other benefits. Just a few of the important antioxidants in apricots include: quercetin; proanthocyanidins; catechins; epicatechins; hydroxydinnamics; caffeic acid and ferulic acid.

Few will have any idea of the benefits of these nutrients, but from what we can find out, they are all essential in our overall wellbeing.

One thing that is easier to understand is that apricots are especially rich in carotenoids and xanthophyllis. These are nutrients that are thought to help protect eyesight against age-related damage.

Generally apricots are also a good source of fibre which we all know is important in our diet.

Buying apricots is easy as at this time of year most good supermarkets and fruit shops will stock them. It is important to buy ripe apricots with an orange-gold colour and some hints of redness so you know the fruit and flavour is well developed. The skin should be smooth and unwrinkled; shrivelled skin could indicate the apricot is over ripe.

If you have bought apricots that still need to ripen, popping them into a brown paper bag will help as the fruit will produce ethylene gas which will help the ripening process. Storing apricots again is easy, but avoid any plastic container as this will quickly trap the gasses given off by the fruit and turn them mushy.

Apricots are wonderful eaten raw, but there are also so many lovely ways to use them in recipes plus apricots make excellent jam so you can keep that very special flavour long after the growing season has passed.

 


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