While they may look like smaller versions of a peach, that’s where the similarities end. Apricots, with their velvety, golden skin, tinged red where they were kissed by the sun, have a completely different taste. Compared to sweet and juicy peaches, apricots have slightly dry flesh that has a tart characteristic to its flavor, in addition to its sweetness. Though completely different, both are worthy of our attention!
Apricots are species belonging to Prunus sect. Armeniaca in the Rosaceae or rose family. Within the Prunus genus are many other popular fruits including peaches, nectarines, cherries, and plums – which are all considered stone fruits (also known as drupes) meaning they are fruits containing a single pit (or stone) surrounded by edible flesh. Interestingly, since it’s easy to cross stone fruits with other stone fruits, there are many hybrids which have come about from natural breeding (and not genetic modification). A few examples include hybrids of apricots and plums such as apriums (which are more apricot than plum and tend to have slightly fuzzy skin), pluots (these are more plum than apricot and have smooth skin) and plumcots (which are a fifty-fifty cross between the two), and these are just a few of the many hybrids out there!
The most commonly cultivated apricot, Prunus armeniaca, was known in Armenia since ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it was thought to have originated there, hence the scientific name. However, genetic studies have confirmed that apricots were independently domesticated from their wild counterparts three different times (once in China and twice in Central Asia). In China alone, where they are associated with education and medicine, they’ve been grown since at least 1000 BC, and were traditionally preserved with salting, smoking, and drying. Despite not originating in Armenia, the apricot is still its national fruit, where at least 50 different varieties are currently grown. Today, Turkey is the world’s top producer, but apricot cultivation has spread to all parts of the world, where this fruit is enjoyed by many. However, don’t offer an apricot to any member of the US marines, who believe that it is bad luck to eat, possess, or even say the name of this fruit (which is why they refer to them as “cots”). This myth began in WWII where superstition has it that all amphibious assault vehicles destroyed with their crew members were said to have apricots on board. Even if there isn’t proof to back this claim, the myth continues to this day. Let’s just say you won’t find any “cots” in a Marine mess hall any time soon (what a PIT-y)!
Nutrivore Score for Apricot – 260
Apricot has a Nutrivore Score of 260, making it a medium nutrient-dense food! Plus, it is a low-carb and low-calorie-density food; the calorie count of apricot is 74 calories per cup!
Per serving, apricot is an excellent source (20-50% daily value) of carotenoids and polyphenols; and a good source (10-20% daily value) of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Apricot Nutrition Facts
One serving of apricot is standardized to 1 cup, halves or about 155 grams (5.5 ounces). A typical apricot weighs 35 grams which means: one serving of apricots is roughly equivalent to 4 apricots.
|Apricot, raw||Nutrivore Score: 260||Nutrient Density: Medium|
|Serving Size: 1 cup, halves (about 4) (155 grams)||Protein: 2.2 grams||Net Carbohydrates: 14.1 grams|
|Calories: 74||Total Fat: 0.6 grams||Dietary Fiber: 3.1 grams|
|Vitamin A||148.8 μg RAE||17% DV|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||46.5 μg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||62.0 μg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.9 mg||6% DV|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.4 mg||7% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||83.7 μg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||0.8 μg||3% DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||14.0 μg||3% DV|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin C||15.5 mg||17% DV|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin E||1.4 mg||9% DV|
|Vitamin K||5.1 μg||4% DV|
|Choline||4.3 mg||1% DV|
|Calcium||20.2 mg||2% DV|
|Copper||120.9 μg||13% DV|
|Iron||0.6 mg||3% DV|
|Magnesium||15.5 mg||4% DV|
|Manganese||119.4 μg||5% DV|
|Phosphorus||35.7 mg||3% DV|
|Potassium||401.5 mg||9% DV|
|Selenium||0.2 μg||0% DV|
|Sodium||1.6 mg||0% DV|
|Zinc||0.3 mg||3% DV|
|AMINO ACIDS & PEPTIDES|
Apricot Nutrition Varies With Processing
The Nutrivore Score of apricots varies depending on processing. When fresh apricots aren’t in season, canned, dehydrated, and dried apricots are readily available year-round at your local grocery store.
|Apricots, canned, water pack, with skin, solids and liquids||2781|
|Apricots, canned, water pack, without skin, solids and liquids||2292|
|Apricots, dehydrated (low-moisture), sulfured, uncooked||1182|
|Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked||130|
Health Benefits of Apricot Nutrients
Let’s take a closer look at all of the best and excellent source of nutrients found in a 1-cup serving of apricot and see how they benefit our health.
Apricot Provides 230.1 mg of Polyphenols
Apricot is an excellent source of polyphenols, providing 230.1 mg of polyphenols per 1-cup serving!
Polyphenols play a huge role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions associated with oxidative stress. In fact, a major reason foods like red wine and olive oil (as well as diets rich in both, such as the Mediterranean diet) show up as so beneficial may be due to their high polyphenol content! Along with chronic diseases, supplementing with polyphenols has been shown to protect against infections and reduce the signs of aging. Polyphenols exert their most potent effects by acting as antioxidants—preventing cellular damage by neutralizing hazardous oxygen radicals and improving cellular health as a result (which, in turn, benefits virtually every system in the body). As a result of their antioxidant properties, polyphenols also boost the immune system and protect against both chronic and acute diseases. In addition, polyphenols can help regulate enzyme function, stimulate cell receptors, modulate the functions of inflammatory cells (including T and B lymphocytes, macrophages, platelets, and natural killer cells), alter adhesion molecule expression, affect nerve cells and cardiac muscle cells, and exert antiviral effects. Learn more about polyphenols here.
Apricot Provides 2024.3 μg of Carotenoids
Apricot is also an excellent source of carotenoids, providing 2024.3 μg of carotenoids per 1-cup serving!
Carotenoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients that are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables vibrant red, orange, and yellow pigmentation. They were one of the earliest phytonutrients ever investigated by scientists (with research dating back to the 1800s!). Across studies, eating foods high in carotenoids appears to reduce the risk of head and neck cancers, supports vision health (particularly age-related eye diseases), may protect against metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and can reduce inflammation. Carotenoids have strong antioxidant properties, and help facilitate communication between cells by promoting the synthesis of connexin proteins, which create gap junctions in cell membranes that allow small molecules to be exchanged (which is part of how cells “talk” to each other!). Consuming carotenoids with fat significantly increases their absorption. Learn more about carotenoids here.
How Much Apricot Should We Eat Per Day?
Not only are apricots delicious but this fruit is also a “stone” cold nutrient power house!
Consuming 800 grams of vegetables and fruits daily reduces all-cause mortality by 31% compared to eating less than 40 grams daily. A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis looked at how all-cause mortality was impacted by varying intakes of 12 different food groups: whole grains and cereals, refined grains and cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products, fish, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. This analysis revealed non-linear relationships between how much of a particular food group we eat and how it impacts our health. While the results revealed no upper limit to the benefits of vegetable intake, the sweet spot for fruit intake was 300 grams daily. Intakes of fruit over 400 grams per day were not as beneficial as 300 grams, but the good news is that even intakes of 600 grams of fruits per day was superior to no fruit at all! This sweet spot for fruit intake translates to 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily.
Thus, a good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 500 to 600 grams of vegetables (5 to 8 servings, depending on the vegetable, and as much as you want above that) and about 300 grams of fruit (2 to 3 servings, depending on the fruit) per day. Fruit makes a convenient snack, a healthy dessert, a whimsical addition to salads, and a sophisticated flavoring agent in the form of salsas, jams, and chutneys. A serving is standardized to 1 cup chopped for raw vegetables and fruits (typically translates to 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup once cooked). Learn more in Importance of Vegetables and Fruit
Although apricots have been less heavily studied for their health effects as compared to other popular stone fruit, the research we do have is promising. For instance, supplementing rats with dried apricot appears to have cardio-protective effects and in rats fed alcohol, dried apricots had liver-protective properties!
It’s always best to mix up the fruit and veggies you eat day to day (aiming for a wide variety of different vegetables and fruits throughout the week), and apricots definitely have a place at the table.
Expand to see all scientific references for this article.
Fineli Finnish Food Composition Database: Apricot, Average, With Stone
Malgorzata EZ, Witkowska AM. Antioxidant Potential and Polyphenol Content of Selected Food. International Journal of Food Properties. 2011. Vol 14(2):300-308. doi: 10.1080/10942910903176584
USDA Food Central Database: Apricots, raw
Watanabe T, Kioka M, Fukushima A, Morimoto M, Sawamura H. Biotin content table of select foods and biotin intake in Japanese. Int J Anal Bio-Sci. 2014. Vol 2(4):109-125.