Gorgeous, golden-orange apricots don’t get the glory they deserve. These small, velvety stone fruits are brimming over with valuable nutrients like beta-carotene and other potent antioxidants. Here’s what you should know about apricot nutrition facts (including the antioxidants found in apricots) as well as apricot health benefits.
If you live in North America, the dawning of apricot season is one of the first indications that summer will be arriving soon. While you can find these petite, beautifully colored fruits in some grocery stores during the winter, they’ve all been imported from either South America or New Zealand.
Apricots are closely related to both peaches and plums, and some say the flavor lies somewhere between the tastes of those two relatives. They’re not as purely sweet as peaches, but don’t have the same tartness plums do. Their unique and delightful taste is juicy, smooth, and verging on musky.
Essential Apricot Nutrition Facts
Apricots are rich in many antioxidants and nutrients. They’re a phenomenal source of vitamin A and contain significant quantities of vitamin C, copper, fiber, and potassium too. The following apricot nutrition facts come from information shared by The World’s Healthiest Foods, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to providing reliable, scientifically accurate information so individuals can make informed decisions about the food they eat.
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods site, a fresh apricot contains, on average:
- Calories: 16.8
- Protein: 0.49 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3.89 grams
- Fat: 0.14 grams
- Fiber: 0.69 grams
- Vitamin A: 33.7 micrograms
- Vitamin C: 3.5 milligrams
- Copper: 0.03 milligrams
The World’s Healthiest Foods site uses the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling” to calculate the nutrient density for each nutrient found in a food. Below, we’ve compiled data for each nutrient found in apricots rated at 2 or above.
Apricots also contain phytochemicals called carotenoids, which give apricots as well as other red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. Lycopene, an extremely potent antioxidant, is one of the carotenoids found in apricots.
All About Apricots and Antioxidants
Apricots are quite nutrient-dense, especially when it comes to antioxidants. They deliver a generous dose of these vital health-promoting compounds in a low-calorie package. In addition to the antioxidants discussed so far—vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene—apricots also contain polyphenolic antioxidants like flavonoids.
Here’s a list of several of the most important types of antioxidants and antioxidant groups found in apricots:
- Gallic acid
- Caffeic acid
- Coumaric acid
- Ferulic acid
3 Ways Apricots Benefit Your Health
Many apricot health benefits stem from the antioxidants they contain, but other nutrients like potassium have significant health benefits too. Here are three of the most exciting apricot benefits that have been validated by high-quality research. Don’t you love it when scientists prove that something that tastes as good as an apricot is really, really good for you?
1. Keep Your Eyesight Sharp
Apricots contain two kinds of nutrients—carotenoids and xanthophylls—that researchers have found can help protect your eyes from age-related damage. Studies show that powerful nutrients found in apricots, like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and lutein, work synergistically to protect the health of your eyes. Rather than focusing on specific recommended quantities for those nutrients, they suggest increasing your dietary intake of foods rich in those nutrients.
2. Quell Inflammation
Apricots are an excellent source of catechins, a type of flavonoid. Just one apricot contains between 4 and 5 grams of catechins. These powerful plant compounds have impressive anti-inflammatory benefits. Scientists have found that catechins can inhibit the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which drives the inflammatory process. Studies have also shown that eating catechin-rich foods like apricots can protect your blood vessels from damage related to inflammation, which can improve your blood pressure.
3. Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
In addition to improving blood pressure by reducing inflammation, apricots also contribute potassium, a nutrient strongly linked to healthy blood pressure and overall heart health. Failing to eat a sufficient amount of potassium has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough potassium from their diet. Dried apricots contain even higher levels of potassium than fresh ones. A single half-cup serving of dried apricots provides more than 21% of your daily recommended allowance for this vital nutrient.