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Apricot (Khubani): Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction:

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.), also known as stone fruit, belongs to the Prunus genus and is widely consumed throughout the world.[1] The apricot tree is grown in temperate regions and requires a cold winter and moderately high temperatures in early summer and spring. The apricot tree cannot be grown in places with a subtropical climate. Apricots are drupes (fruit that contains a single seed) like mangoes, plums, cherries, and peaches. Their outer fleshy portion covers a hard stone with a seed inside it. The colour of the fruit varies from orange to orange-red, with some varieties being greenish-white to cream white. Apricot is rich in carbohydrates and is a great source of minerals, fibres, and vitamins. Apricot kernels are also being used in Chinese medicine for cough, constipation, and asthma.[2]

apricot benefits

Nutritional Value of Apricot:

Apricot (Khubani) has a high nutritional content in terms of proteins (8%), sugars (greater than 60%), crude fat (2%), vitamins- A, C, K, and B-complex, total minerals (4%), crude fibre (11.50%), and a fair percentage of organic acids (malic and citric acid).2 In 100 grams, the following nutrients are found in apricot:[1],[2]

Nutrient  Value
  Water  86.4 g
  Energy  48 Kcal
  Protein  1.4 g
  Carbohydrate  11.1 g
  Sugars  9.24 g
  Calcium  13 mg
  Fibre    2 g
  Magnesium  10 mg
  Potassium  259 mg
  Zinc  0.2 mg
  Phosphorus  23 mg
  Copper  0.078 mg
  Manganese  0.077 mg
  Vitamin C  10 mg
  Riboflavin  0.04 mg
  Thiamin  0.03 mg
  Vitamin B-6  0.054 mg
  Vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid)  0.24 mg
  Vitamin B-3 (niacin)  0.6 mg
  Vitamin E  0.89 mg
  Vitamin A  96  µg
  Vitamin K  3.3  µg
  Sodium  1 mg
Table depicting the nutritional value of apricot3,4

Properties of Apricot:

The ripened apricots have a better antioxidant action due to the accumulation of vitamin C and phenolic compounds through the ripening process.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Apricot and its kernel might have properties like:

  • It may have an antiparasitic activity
  • It may have an antiaging potential
  • It may have an anticancer potential
  • It may have hepatoprotective (liver-protecting) action
  • It may be an antioxidant
  • It may have renoprotective (kidney-protecting) activity
  • It may have antiatherosclerating (cholesterol-lowering) property
  • It may be an antianginal (relieving chest pain) agent
  • It may be a cardioprotective (heart-protecting) agent
  • It might act as a sedative
  • It might have an antimicrobial potential
  • It may have antitussive (cough suppressant) activity
  • It may have an anti-inflammatory potential
  • It may be an antinociceptive (blocking painful stimuli) agent
  • It might have antimutagenic (counteracting the impact of mutagens) potential5

Also Read: Papaya: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

Potential uses of Apricot:

Apricots are a powerhouse of nutrition and they contain zinc, which is believed to sharpen your thinking process. They can be a great snack for students to sharpen their mental acuity.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS 

Apricot might have the following potential uses for human health.

Potential use of apricot for cancer:

Do you know that the nutritional content of frozen apricots is more than that of fresh apricots? Freezing and storing apricots positively affects their nutritional content. There is a rise in their antioxidant levels after about 3 months of storage.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Today, cancer is the most common degenerative condition and the second leading cause of mortality in the United States, following cardiovascular disorders. Apricots have been reported to have anti-cancer potential. A compound isolated from MK615, a Japanese variety of apricot, showed potential anti-tumour activity against colon cancer cells, liver cancer cells, and human pancreatic cells in laboratory trials.2 However, more research is required to prove such effects on apricot on cancer. Moreover, cancer is a serious condition and must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

Potential use of apricot as an antioxidant:

Oxidative stress is a phenomenon that occurs due to an imbalance between the production and gathering of reactive oxygen species in cells and tissues and the inability of the body to detoxify these reactive compounds.6 Oxidative stresses produce reactive oxygen species and free radicals that can lead to damage of macromolecules (lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins) and cause tissue injuries. These processes might lead to chronic diseases like cancer, ulcers, diabetes, heart-related diseases, and inflammations. Due to its rich phytochemical composition, apricot might exhibit antioxidant properties.2 However, more research is required to prove such effects.

Potential use of apricot for the heart:

Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Risk factors for heart diseases include atherosclerosis (accumulation of fats, cholesterol and other substances in the artery walls), high cholesterol levels, and other conditions. Phenolic compounds present in apricots like lycopene, chlorogenic acid, and β-carotene might help with the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and might help improve the antioxidative status of the human body. Apricot is also a rich source of fibre. Soluble dietary fibre is known to be efficient in decreasing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).2 However, more studies are required to prove the potential use of apricot against heart diseases. Moreover, serious conditions like those related to the heart, must be diagnosed and treated by a professional. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor.

Potential use of apricot for liver:

Fatty liver disease, also called hepatic steatosis, is fat accumulation in the liver. Hepatic steatosis might further lead to steatohepatitis (inflammation of the liver with fat accumulation), cirrhosis (healthy liver tissue replaced with scar tissue leading to permanent liver damage) and advanced fibrosis. Apricot might have an effect on hepatic steatosis, as seen in animal models.2 However, more research is required to prove these effects. Please note that diseases of the liver are serious and must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

Potential use of apricot for infections:

The Japanese variety of apricot might help against the colonisation of H. pylori in the digestive system, hence it might be helpful against gastritis. The ethanolic extract of apricot might exhibit great antimicrobial activity against gram-positive bacteria. It may also exhibits antibacterial activity against organisms like Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis.5  

Though there are studies that show the potential use of apricot in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of apricot on human health. 

Also Read: Calcium Rich Fruits: Unveiling the Top Sources for Your Diet

How to Use Apricot?

Apricots can be consumed as:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Dried fruits
  • Jams
  • Juices
  • Processed/canned apricots1

Apricot kernels can be used in the production of medicines or bakery products or can be directly consumed as appetisers.1

The kernel oil obtained from apricots is used very often in the preparation of many medicines by Ayurvedic physicians and in cosmetics. Apricot oil might have a positive effect on the hair, skin, and health.1

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Also Read: Onion: Uses, Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

Side Effects of Apricot:

Normal intake of apricot fruit is not harmful to consumers. However, eating an excess of raw apricot kernels might pose risks. A compound called amygdalin is present in apricot kernels. This compound converts into cyanide after consumption. Cyanide poisoning can lead to nausea, headaches, thirst, lethargy, nervousness, fever, joint pain, muscle pain, and reduced blood pressure. It can be fatal in severe cases.7 Therefore, kindly consult a doctor before consuming it for its potential uses.

Precautions to Take With Apricot:

It is essential to take precautions while consuming apricot kernels, as taking excess apricot kernels poses a risk of cyanide poisoning.8 Therefore, consult a doctor beforehand.

Also Read: Vitamin B Complex Benefits: Exploring Research-Based Health Perks

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is an apricot?

Apricots (Prunus armeniaca L) are small stone fruits that range in colour from yellow to orange and are mostly tinged red on their sides due to sun exposure. The surface of apricots can be either smooth or velvety with minute hair. The flesh of apricots is mostly firm, and their taste can be either sweet or sour.8

What is the meaning of apricot?

Apricot was named by Romans. It is a combination of two words: ‘praecocia’ from Latin, which means early matured and ‘albarquq’ from Arabic, which means short ripening period.2

What are the phytochemicals present in apricot?

Apricot contains various phytochemicals like aspolyphenols (flavonoids and phenolic acids) and carotenoids that add to their colour, taste, and nutritional value.2

What are the uses of apricots in Chinese medicine?

According to Chinese medicine, the apricot is thought to be helpful in detoxification, relieving thirst, and regenerating body fluids. Its kernels, as per Chinese medicine, might be helpful for suppressing cough and strengthening the respiratory system.2

What are the contents of an apricot kernel?

Apricot kernel is rich in oil and mainly contains fatty acids, particularly unsaturated fatty acids. This oil also contains high amounts of carotenoids, phytosterols, triterpenoids, vitamin E active compounds, and polyphenols. Apricot kernels are also a good source of essential oil, proteins, and peptides.8

Also Read: Karela: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

References:

  1. Estefania Gonzalez-Garcia, Maria Luisa Marina, Maria Concepcion Garcia; Chapter 3-Apricot. Valorization of fruit processing by-products. 2020:43-65. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128171066000034
  2. Omar Bashir, Gousia Gani, Tashooq Ahmad Bhat. Nutritional and health benefits of apricots. International Journal of Unani and integrative medicine. 2018;2(2):05-09. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328274247_Nutritional_and_health_benefits_of_apricots/link/5bc2de1a92851c88fd69ac38/download
  3. U.S Department of agriculture. Apricots, raw. [Internet]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171697/nutrients
  4. Khaled Moustafa and Joanna Cross. Production, pomological and nutraceutical properties of apricot; Journal of food science and technology. 2019 Jan;56(1):12-23. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6342773/
  5. S. Gupta, M. Chhajed, S. Arora, Gujreet Thakur, and Renu Gupta; Medicinal value of Apricot: A review. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2018;80(5):790-794. Available from: https://www.ijpsonline.com/articles/medicinal-value-of-apricot-a-review-3531.html
  6. Gabriele Pizzino, Natasha Irrera, Mariapaola Cucinotta, Giovanni Pallio, Federica Mannino, Vincenzo Arcoraci, Francesco Squadrito, Dormenica Altavilla and Alessandra Bitto; Oxidative stress: Harms and benefits for human health. Oxidative Medicine and cellular longetivity. 2017 Jul 27. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/#:~:text=Oxidative%20stress%20is%20a%20phenomenon,to%20detoxify%20these%20reactive%20products.
  7. European food safety authority. Apricot kernels pose risk of cyanide poisoning. [Internet] Available from: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/160427
  8. Apricots. A complete course in canning and related processes (fourteenth edition) 2016. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/prunus-armeniaca#:~:text=242%2D2003).-,Apricots%20(Prunus%20armeniaca%20L.),ranges%20from%20sweet%20to%20tart.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128171066000034

[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328274247_Nutritional_and_health_benefits_of_apricots

[3] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171697/nutrients

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6342773/

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation

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