Apricots are a close relative of plums and peaches with their taste often described as a hybrid of the two. The general belief is that apricot cultivation originated in China, but opposing theories also provide evidence that cultivation may have begun in India. Either way, ancient Armenia is where real mass scale apricot cultivation thrived. From there it was introduced into Europe via the traveling armies of the Roman Empire, eventually making its way to the Americas by Spanish colonization. The Californian climate was found to be ideal for growing apricots and now produces most of the apricots in the USA.
Apricot Juice Benefits
Apricot nutrition benefits a variety of health problems. First of all, fresh ripe apricots and apricot juice are an amazing source of beta-carotene and other carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect us from heart disease and eye problems. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also potent antioxidants that contribute significantly to eye health. Apricot juice is also a good source of vitamin C and the mineral potassium, while the apricot fruit is an exceptionally good source of fiber.
Apricot Juice for Heart Health
As a powerful antioxidant, beta-carotene has been shown to help improve cholesterol levels and help counter the development of atherosclerosis by disarming free radicals. Atherosclerosis develops when LDL “bad” cholesterol becomes oxidized by free radicals. This oxidizing of the cholesterol cells damages them, causing them to harden into artery walls. This decreases the natural elasticity of the artery, which in turn decreases blood flow creating atherosclerosis, a major risk factor in heart disease. Apricot juice and especially homemade apricot juice are exceptionally high sources of beta-carotene, blessing us with these heart healthy apricot benefits. However, there is more to apricot juice benefits for the heart and that is its vitamin C content. Research shows that vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant for protecting LDL cholesterol from free radical damage and combined with beta-carotene the abilities of both nutrients are greatly enhanced. Additionally, vitamin C is also an important player in the development of collagen, a substance that creates the elasticity in skin and arteries. Without vitamin C, collagen cannot be made and cholesterol is used instead to create artery walls – another factor with contributes to the development of atherosclerosis.
Anti-Cancer Properties of Apricot Juice
Apricots contain lycopene, although not found in great quantities like it is in tomatoes. Lycopene is nonetheless still a constituent of apricots. To read more about the cancer preventative benefits of lycopene visit lycopene for cancer prevention
It is also good to know that lycopene becomes more available for digestion when a food is processed by cooking or juicing. So tomato juice is actually a better source of lycopene than eating raw tomatoes – the same applies for apricots.
Apricot Juice Eye Health Benefits
Helping to prevent the development of eye diseases is another one of the health benefits of apricots. Lutein and zeaxanthin are members of the carotenoid family along with beta-carotene. They are the only carotenoids found in the retina of the eye. They act as antioxidants protecting the retina from the free radicals in UV light. Research shows that this protection significantly reduces the risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma, eye disease that have the potential to cause permanent blindness. It is important to note that lutein and zeaxanthin are found most abundantly in the skins of the apricot, so when making homemade apricot juice, be sure to juice them with the skins on. Many commercial fruit juices are created from peeled fruits, which can greatly deplete the final nutrition left available in the juice. A reason why I always recommend juicing at home whenever possible.
Choosing A Good Quality Apricot Juice
As I have already mentioned, the juicing benefits of fresh apricot juice made at home is by far the most nutritious way to drink apricot juice. You can juice the whole apricot except for the stone, be sure to leave on the skins to ensure more fiber and antioxidants make it to the apricot juice.
Finding a high quality apricot juice is not as easy as with other more popular fruits. I recommend finding an organic juice, as apricots can be heavily treated with pesticides. Also check to see what other ingredients may be in the juice. Often fruit juices contain unnecessary added sugar or unhealthy sweeteners, for this reason I always go with 100% fruit juice and not from concentrate. You will notice that apricot juice is often found mixed with other fruit juices, which is fine if it is all 100% organic fruit juice!