A Tribute to Two Ancient Fruits With Huge Health Benefits
January is Apple and Apricot Month, and what better way to kick off the year than with a tribute to two fruits with ancient roots. Apples and apricots have served humanity through the ages.
Apples originated in Kazakhstan, whose capital, Alma Ata, means “full of apples.” By 1500 BCE, apples had reached Mesopotamia. The conquering armies of ancient empires brought apples with them to new lands as they expanded, first in Egypt, then in Rome. Today apples are the most cultivated fruit in the world.
Apricots too have been prized by cultures the world round since the Classical period, when they made their way across the Silk Roads from China to Europe around 3000 BCE. Nutrient-rich and easily portable, apricots were a lifeline for those who traveled the vast expanses between the great empires of the time, and a delight for the civilizations in their paths. The Persians described the taste of apricots well enough, calling them “yellow plums.” The Ancient Greeks were more romantic in their descriptions, referring to apricots as “the golden eggs of the sun,” while Ancient Romans simply dubbed the noble apricot praecocum, or “precious one.”
Apples and Apricots: Health Benefits
What we know about nutrition bears out ancient history’s accolades for apples and apricots. Naturally snack-sized, apples and apricots are loaded with antioxidants, which reduce your risk of diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
Apples and Apricots Are Great for Your Skin
An antioxidant-rich diet is a key weapon in your arsenal against the main drivers of skin damage and wrinkles: oxidative damage from environmental causes like pollution, sun damage, and cigarette smoke. Antioxidant-rich apricots help your body fight off the damage, while Vitamin C–rich apples combat UV damage and assist in the process of building collagen, a key factor in your skin’s strength and elasticity.
Apples Boost Brainpower
In addition to their high antioxidant content generally, apples and apricots are both great sources of different kinds of antioxidants, each with particular specialities. Apples contain quercetin, an antioxidant that has been found to reduce cellular death resulting from oxidation and inflammation of neurons, which may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Even apple juice has been correlated to the production of certain neurotransmitters that may lead to improved memory.
Learn more about the wonders apples can do for your health in our previous article, 5 Health Benefits of Apples: Brain and Body!
Apricots Improve Your Vision
The antioxidants in apricots are key to improving vision and reducing eye strain from too much screen time. Apricots have the highest levels and widest variety of carotenoids of any food, and while beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and alpha carotene aren’t exactly household names, they are key to countering the effects that our modern-day reliance on electronic devices can have on our bodies. These carotenoids influence the amount of cortisol your adrenal glands produce, while also fortifying your eyes with antioxidants to fight damage from free radicals.
Eating More Apples and Apricots
The easiest way to eat more apples and apricots is to have them on hand and toss one in your bag to snack on as you go about your day. You can get even more of the nutritional benefits of apples and apricots by working more into your dinner menu. Check out these recipes featuring apricots and apples from the New York Times and cook your way to reaping the health benefits of apples and apricots this January!
For more topics related to nutrition, follow along with our Hospitality Health ER blog! We’ve recently covered other topics on health and wellness in “10 Healthy Vegetables and the Proven Perks of Eating Them” and “Does an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?” For giveaways, updates, and COVID-19 tips, like us on Facebook and Instagram.