Nutrients in apricots can help protect the heart and eyes, as well as provide the disease-fighting effects of fiber. The high beta-carotene content of apricots makes them important heart health foods. Beta-carotene helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may help prevent heart disease.
Apricots contain nutrients such as vitamin A that promote good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, quenches free radical damage to cells and tissues. Free radical damage can injure the eyes' lenses. The degenerative effect of free radicals, or oxidative stress, may lead to cataracts or damage the blood supply to the eyes and cause macular degeneration. Researchers who studied over 50,000 registered nurses found women who had the highest vitamin A intake reduced their risk of developing cataracts nearly 40%.
Apricots are a good source of fiber, which has a wealth of benefits including preventing constipation and digestive conditions such as diverticulosis. But most Americans get less than 10 grams of fiber per day. A healthy, whole foods diet should include apricots as a delicious way to add to your fiber intake.
Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal. The next time you make whole grain pancakes add some chopped apricots to the batter. Give a Middle Eastern flavor to chicken or vegetable stews with the addition of dried, diced apricots.
Apricots are good source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that guards against heart disease and certain cancers. Experts suggest that consuming a daily intake of 3 to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease. Three apricots have 1 milligram of beta carotene. (One serving of fresh apricots is equivalent to 3 small fruits; a serving of dried apricots is ¼ cup (60 ml) or about 6 apricot halves.) Dried apricots are also a good source of nutrients, although they contain slightly fewer vitamins and minerals than their fresh counterparts. Apricots also have a low glycemic index, which means they cause a gradual rise in blood glucose (sugar) levels. This makes them an especially healthy snack for people managing their blood sugar.
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