A Bounty of Beta-carotene
Protect the eyes.
Prevent heart disease.
At one time, Chinese brides nibbled on these delicate super fruits.
To increase fertility.
It sounds odd today.
Until you realize that these fruits are in fact, high in a mineral needed for the production of our sex hormones.
These days, of course, few of us are likely to rely on a fruit to influence our family size.
Yet this sweet, velvety, super fruit, contains a variety of compounds.
That research shows can fight infections, blindness, and heart disease.
Most of apricots' health benefits are due to their copious.
And exceptionally diverse carotenoid content.
Carotenoids are the pigments in plants.
That color many of our favorite fruits and vegetables.
Red, orange, yellow as well as carotenoids.
In humans have a wide range of health-protecting properties.
Researchers have identified at least 600 different carotenoids.
With some of the most powerful, including beta-carotene.
Found in these super fruits.
These are one of the best foods to look to for carotenoids.
Fruit for the Heart
This super fruits unique mix of healing compounds.
Makes this food a powerful ally in fighting heart disease.
Along with beta-carotene, these super fruits contain lycopene.
And both compounds have shown in studies.
To fight the process.
By which the dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) form of cholesterol. turns rancid in the bloodstream.
This is important because when LDL goes bad, it's more likely to stick to artery walls.
Lycopene is currently considered one of the strongest antioxidants we know about.
A 13-year study found that those with the highest intakes of carotenoids.
Had a one-third lower risk of heart disease than those with the lowest intakes.
In an 8 year study of 90,000 nurses, those with diets richest in carotenoids had a one-quarter lower risk.
Apricots are a good source of beta-carotene.
Three fruits contain 2 milligrams, about 30 percent of the recommended daily amount.
In the Kitchen
Although most of us eat apricots straight from the fruit bin.
There are many other ways to prepare and enjoy these little golden gems.
Grilled apricots take on a smoky, sweet flavor as the sugars caramelize.
Thread whole or halved of these super fruits on skewers.
Brush with honey and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, turning often.
To cook these super fruits indoors, cut it in half, brush with honey and broil in the oven, cut side up.
Poached apricots are a great way to warm up a cool evening.
Put fruit juice and whole cloves or a cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add whole or halved fruits and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove them and continue cooking the sauce until it thickens.
Then use it as topping for these delectable super fruits.
The Eyes Have It
Even if you don't have the spinach loving personality of Popeye.
You can get lots of vitamin-A by eating these fruits.
(The beta-carotene in these super fruits is converted to vitamin-A in the body.)
This nutrient helps protect the eyes, and as it turns out, the eyes need all the help they can get.
Every time light passes through the eyes.
It triggers the release of tissue damaging free radicals.
Left unchecked, these destructive oxygen molecules attack.
And damage the lenses of the eyes, setting the stage for cataracts.
Free radicals can also attack blood vessels supplying the central portions of retinas.
Called the maculas.
If the blood supply gets cut off, the result can be macular degeneration.
The leading cause of vision loss in older adults.
Vitamin-A has been shown in studies to be a powerful antioxidant.
As it helps block the effects of free radicals.
The idea that apricot pits could be used as medicine dates back to the 1920s.
When a Dr. Ernst T. Krebs put forth a theory that amygdalin.
A compound found in apricot pits that is converted to cyanide in the body, could destroy cancer cells.
Some 30 years later, his son re-formulated the extract and named it Laetrile.
By the 1970s, people with cancer who felt that they couldn't be helped by modern medicine.
Were traveling to obscure clinics.
And paying exorbitant prices for this new "miracle" cure.
So popular was Laetrile that at one time it was available in health food stores in 27 states.
Today, Laetrile cannot legally be sold in the United States.
Although it's available in Mexico and other countries.
Does Laetrile work?
According to most experts, the answer is an emphatic no.
"Laetrile is not only useless but also potentially fatal."
Says Maurie Markman, M.D., director of the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center.
Indeed, a study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Found that Laetrile frequently caused nausea, vomiting and headaches
As well as other symptoms of cyanide poisoning.
Laetrile is dangerous for another reason, Dr. Markman adds.
Some people depend on it instead of turning to a safer and more effective cancer therapy.
Eat them firm
Even if you enjoy your fruit nice and soft.
It's best to eat these super fruits while they're still slightly firm.
Because they contain the most nutrients when they're at their peak of ripeness.
Once they start getting soft, these compounds begin to break down.
Shop for color
Unlike most fruits, apricots can be yellow or orange and still be ripe.
Both colors are acceptable when you're trying to get the most healing benefits.
Yet, those that have green in them were picked early and may never ripen.
Which means that you lose out on much of their healing goodness.
It's important to keep apricots cool to prevent them from getting overripe.
Unless you're going to eat them within a day or two.
It's best to store them in the fruit bin in the refrigerator, where they'll keep for about a week.
Here's another storage tip.
Because these are such a soft, delicate super fruit.
They absorb flavors from other fruits they're stored with.
Or even from refrigerator smells.
So, it's a good idea to store them in a paper or plastic bag.
Honey Baked Apricots with Mascarpone
This Italian dessert, with just a hint of spice.
Makes the most of this fruits short season.
Fresh, they're in season in the late spring through early summer.
For the Italian twist.
Bake them with honey, almonds, a dusting of ginger and a dollop of mascarpone on the side.
Prep: 10 min Total:
Makes: 4 Servings
4 ripe, juicy apricots, halved and pitted
pinch of ground ginger or cinnamon
3 Tbs. honey
2/3 c. mascarpone cheese, for serving
3 Tbs. sliced almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Lightly butter a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the apricots.
2. Arrange the fruit in the dish, cut sides up.
Brush with the honey, then sprinkle with the almonds and a dusting of the ginger.
3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the apricots are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the almonds are toasted.
Serve hot or cooled in dessert glasses, with a dollop of the mascarpone.
We hope you and your family enjoy this recipe!Tweet
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