Good Natured

Apricot Power

A little tart and a little sweet

By Karen Frye

An apricot-a-day may replace the apple-a-day theory. A little tart and a little sweet, they’re high in nutrients such as potassium and vitamins A and C. They’re also rich in fiber.

Apricots are loaded with antioxidant flavonoids. In fact, just a handful can neutralize the free radicals that damage cells in the body. Apricots contain the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin — found in the retina, macula and lens of the eye — and help keep your eyes healthy. The apricot ranks low on the glycemic index, so they’re OK for most folks with sugar imbalances.

The vitamins A and E in the apricot build collagen, keeping your skin healthy, and protecting it against sun damage.

Fresh apricots are seasonal, and the best ones come from California. Dried apricots are easier to find year-round and have all the same benefits as the fresh ones — just make sure to get the ones without sulphur.

While fresh apricots are delicious, you can also make an apricot puree by cooking them in some boiling water for 10-15 minutes, then putting them in the food processor. You can add the puree to oatmeal, yogurt, or eat a few spoonfuls a day.

Before you throw away that pit in the center of the apricot, take a second to remove the seed and eat that, too. The apricot kernel contains a very nutritious substance called amygdalin, commonly known as B17. It’s naturally occurring in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Apricot kernels contain abundant amounts of amygdalin.

The apricot kernels themselves are slightly bitter, but I find them delicious. It is possible to find some sweeter seeds, but the B17 is greatest in the bitter ones. The California variety has the highest potency and are the bitterest.

There is a small endocrine gland, the pineal gland, located in the center of the brain at about eye level. It looks like an eye and even has tissues and fluids much like our eyes. René Descartes believed the pineal gland was the “principal seat of the soul.” It produces melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. While apricots help keep the pineal gland healthy, it calcifies as we age. Some people find that taking a melatonin supplement about an hour before bedtime helps to induce sleep.

Eating apricots and their seeds may also lower blood pressure, reduce pain from inflammation, and aid the immune system. Maybe an apricot a day will keep the doctor away.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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