May 6, 2024/Nutrition

8 Health Benefits of Apricots

Full of antioxidants and nutrients, apricots may boost your eye, skin, digestive and overall health

Person halving apricots and removing pits on cutting board

Bite into a ripe apricot, and your taste buds will enjoy a flavor that’s mainly sweet but also slightly tart. As a stone fruit, fresh apricots (scientific name: Prunus armeniaca) have a hard pit hidden in their center. And they’re mouth-wateringly ripe and ready to eat during the dog days of summer.

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But apricots’ benefits don’t stop there. “Apricots are full of antioxidants, which help stave off chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, LD. “They also have nutrients that boost your eye, skin and gut health.”

Are apricots good for you?

Not only are apricots healthy, but some experts also consider them a superfood. They’re low in calories, high in fiber and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), contain these important nutrients:

Czerwony explains how this list of nutritional MVPs benefits your health.

1. Helps prevent cancer and other chronic diseases

Beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins A, C and E all act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural compounds that shield your cells from damage caused by free radicals.

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“Free radicals are molecules that are unstable because they’re missing an electron. They naturally occur in our bodies, but outside factors like pollution and cigarette smoke also cause them,” explains Czerwony. “Free radicals want an even number of electrons, so they steal electrons from other molecules in your body. From there, it’s a domino effect. More and more molecules become unstable, creating a situation known as oxidative stress.”

Oxidative stress happens when there are too many free radicals, leading to cell and tissue damage. Research has linked this process to chronic diseases, including:

Antioxidants help prevent oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. Instead of stealing electrons from stable molecules, antioxidants take them from free radicals. This everyone-wins approach leaves both antioxidants and free radicals with the right number of electrons — stopping electron thievery, and the havoc it wreaks, in its tracks.

2. Helps vision and eye health

Apricots’ antioxidants protect your eyes as well. Studies show that vitamin A and beta-carotene, the substance your body uses to make vitamin A, are important for eye health. Beta-carotene is also what gives apricots (and carrots, another eye powerhouse) their trademark orange color.

Vitamin A and beta-carotene may help:

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Vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin also work their antioxidant magic directly in your eyes. “They protect against oxidative stress that affects the cells in your eyes,” adds Czerwony.

3. Aids digestive health

A cup of apricots (155 grams) has about 3.1 grams of fiber. That gives you nearly 10% of your recommended daily amount if you’re between the ages of 19 and 30. (More, if you’re older.)

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are gut health superstars, and apricots have both,” says Czerwony. “Insoluble fiber helps keep stool (poop) soft, so you can have more regular, productive bowel movements. Soluble fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria that inhabit your gut. Plus, fiber helps with weight management because it helps you feel fuller longer.”

Studies have also linked good gut health with:

But be sure to eat apricots skin-on. “An apricot’s skin has most of its fiber,” shares Czerwony. “You can also up your fiber intake by eating them dried — dried apricots contain about three times more fiber than fresh ones. But don’t go wild. They also have almost six times more sugar in them.”

4. Helps maintain healthy skin

Not only do vitamins A and C protect skin cells from free radical damage, but vitamin C also helps increase the amount of collagen in your skin. Like the frame of a house, collagen gives your skin the structure it needs to be strong. “You naturally lose collagen as you age. This leads to those telltale signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles,” Czerwony says. “Vitamin C may help slow this process, resulting in firmer, more youthful-looking skin.”

Research also shows that vitamins C and E may work together to protect your skin from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. And in a 2008 review of seven studies, researchers found that taking beta-carotene supplements for at least 10 weeks helped prevent people from getting sunburned.

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Other apricot benefits

Extra credit: Apricots in your diet may also help:

How to add apricots to your diet

Fresh apricots are small, so don’t worry about overdoing it if you can’t stop at one, says Czerwony. “But if you have diabetes, be sure to pair them with a lean protein like nuts to prevent blood sugar spikes. While apricots and other fruits are a healthy source of carbs, too many can be unhealthy.”

Ditto on dried apricots, which tend to be higher in carbs and added sugars than fresh apricots. “Balance is the name of the game. Dried apricots are also higher in fiber and other nutrients than fresh apricots. So, enjoy them, but look for ones that don’t have added sugar. And pay attention to your serving size.”

Apricots are versatile. You can eat them fresh or bake them into desserts, muffins or scones. They taste great in trail mix, oatmeal, yogurt or paired with your favorite charcuterie.

“They even make a great addition to meat and poultry dishes,” suggests Czerwony. “Whether you consider yourself an apricot newbie or fan, you can’t go wrong.”

Learn more about our editorial process.

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