Origin: Known as Prunus Armeniaca, the stone fruit apricot belongs to Rosaceae family. The title apricot comes from "apricock" and "abrecox,” through the French abricot.
It is believed that apricot originated in northeastern China. Although, some historians debate that it was cultivated first in India. Around 6,000 year old seeds have been unearthed from Armenia. The Roman General Lucullus, 106-57 B.C.E., exported trees such as apricot from Armenia to Europe.
Legend has it that since ancient times, apricot seeds (probably since the year 502) have been used for tumor treatment. In 17th century, apricot oil was used in England to cure tumors and ulcers. Europeans for long have looked at apricot as an aphrodisiac. John Websters The Duchess of Malfi, while depicting William Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream, ensured apricot wore the character of an inducer of childbirth labor.
China has a long association of apricot with education and medicine. A second century medical doctor Tung Fung told his patients that instead of paying him compensation they should plant apricot trees in his backyard. Legend has it, those who were free from threating illness planted five apricot trees and others planted one. A Chinese philosopher in fourth century B.C., Chuang Tzu, articulated tales to his learners in midst of apricot woods. Few years down the line, thousands of apricot trees were planted in the doctors backyard symbolizing the health benefits of apricot.
Alexander the Great deserves the credit of introducing apricots to Greece. Since ancient times, they have been cultivated in Persia and were an essential commodity on Persian trade routes. In 17th century, England used apricot oil in herbalism treatments such as tumors, swelling, and ulcers.
Scientifically: Apricot is a nutrient power house and is loaded with Vitamin A, C, K, B12, B6, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, potassium, sodium, calcium, dietary fibers, folate and potassium. Thus, it is excellent for eyes and keep a check on your digestive system. Dried apricots are armed with calcium, copper, niacin, and iron. Apricot seeds have a high concentration of Cyanogenic glycosides. Apricot seeds also house Laetrile, a compound used for alternative treatment for cancer.
Armed with vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, polyphenols Apricots are great for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases, gastric disorders, and for boasting immune system.
This rich source of vitamins has Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene), Vitamin C. This ensures it embraces antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and cardio-protective properties.
Apart from this, it is also packed with metabolites such as sterol derivatives, Glucosides, carotenoids, polyphenols, polysaccharides and fatty acids. Apricot is extremely is pregnant with carotenoids such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, gamma-carotene, lycopene.
Apricot oil contains gamma-linolenic acid that ensures you have a fit and good-looking body. Apricot oil works as an excellent tonner. The outer shell and pulp of Apricots are used to make exfoliating scrub.
Its anti-inflammatory character takes care of issues such as scars, pimples, dermatitis, eczema etc. It also proudly wears the cap of hair conditioner. Its antioxidants and beta-carotene fight free radicals. It also ensures that the skin is not dehydrated.
It is believed to cure macular degeneration and strengthen optic nerve. It is pregnant with natural sugar such as sucrose, fructose and glucose.
Apricot is blessed with great concentration of blood pressure-lowering nutrients such as dietary fiber (pectin), potassium and magnesium. It has anti-hypertensive effect thus lowers high blood pressure.
A large number of studies conducted on animals state that apricots reduce the level of oxidative stress, inflammation and restore the activities of superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant. Regular consumption of apricots reduces liver injury.
Usage: Apricots are consumed dried, canned, fresh or as an oil. Apricot kernals are used in flavoring liqueurs. Apricot seeds are poisonous and thus need to be roasted first.
Below are some DIY masks:
- To moisturize your skin, mix equal quantities of apricot, honey and orange juice. Apply this mask on your face. Let it dry and then wash off. This will ensure your skin is smiling, glowing and is well hydrated.
- Mash 2-3 apricots and apply the puree directly to your skin. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Gently massage and rinse the skin. This makes the skin fresh and brighter.
- Take 2 ripe apricots, 3-4 almonds and a teaspoon of honey. Blend all this mixture together and apply on the face. Leave it for 10 minutes, then lightly massage and rinse. This removes the dead skin and adds natural radiance to the face.
- Take one ripe apricot and soak it in some milk overnight. Blend this into a puree and apply on the face. Keep it on for 10 minutes and then rinse. This makes skin soft and supple.