Dried Apricots – Nutritional Profile
Dried apricots are available all year round. The drying process preserves all of the nutrtion of the fresh fruit with the exception of vitamin C levels which start to deplete naturally as soon as the fruit is picked.
A typical 100g serving will contain 348 calories with 4.1g of protein and 58g of carbohydrates as natural sugars such as fructose and glucose. The fat content is very low at 0.6g of which 0.4g are saturated fats.
Dietary fibre accounts for 9.9g with iron at 5.18g and vitamin A (beta carotene) at 797mg.
They are available in two forms commercially. Lighter coloured dried apricots have added sulphur dioxide to maintain their light colour where as darker ones are processed without sulphur dioxide and have a deeper more intense flavour that comes from the oxidisation on the apricots skin that causes the darker colour.
Dried Apricots – Health Benefits
With the high calorie count and very low fat content dried apricots are a useful addition to a diet where weight gain is required.
Studies have also shown that eating three fruit portions such as dried apricots a day will decrease the chance of developing age related macular degeneration which is a condition that affects eyesight in older people and can lead to blindness. The reduction was 36% and was greater than the reduction seen for people eating 3 portions of vegetables a day.
The levels of fibre present in the dried fruit are sufficient for them to act as a gentle laxative. When eaten they reabsorb water in the colon and the fibre present swells to provide gentle relief from constipation.
When red blood cell levels fall or when haemoglobin levels in existing cells fall resulting in anaemia. Dried apricots can assist with the treatment of this condition due to their high levels of iron.
They are a useful aid to digestion if eaten in small quantities before a meal due the alkaline effect they have when being digested.
The fibre content as found in dried apricots is known to be beneficial in controlling how the body processes cholesterol. Fibre turns to a colloidal like gel in the colon and this gel is known to absorb undesirable LDL cholesterol, thus stopping it entering the bloodstream whilst allowing desirable HDL cholesterol to be absorbed. This leads to lower incidence of arteriosclerosis, heart disease and stroke.
Dried fruits such as apricots also contain high levels of polyphenols and phenolic acids which have been shown to have significant antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are important ways of reducing the possibility of developing some of the most common cancers such as colon cancer.
Dried Apricots – Product History
Dried fruits such as apricots have been found to have been part of human diet for thousands of years. Evidence of them has been found in Mesopotamian culture in 4000BC. It is believed they spread to the fertile crescent on the Middle East from China where they were originally domesticated.
Apricots can be dried naturally in the sun or by using specially designed dehydrators that expose the fruit to low temperatures over a prolonged period. Mechanical drying such as this also allows for the introduction of sulphur dioxide which prevents a colour change during the drying process and results in a dried fruit that is similar in colour to the fresh variety rather than the darker colour found on air dried products.
Traditionally no sugar is added during the drying process but as they water content reduces the sugars that exist concentrate and give a much sweeter taste.