When it comes to alkalizing bone-healthy nutritional power, the humble apricot has much to offer. This smooth-skinned cousin of the peach contains several hard-to-come-by minerals to nourish and build your bones.
Unfortunately, this delicious fruit has a short growing season – here in North America, they’re in season from May until early August. So fresh apricots, while delicious, are not available for long.
Dried apricots, however, are available year-round, and offer the same nutritious, alkalizing benefits as fresh. In fact, except for water-soluble Vitamin C, dried apricots are more nutrient-dense due to their lack of water content.
In addition to exploring all the bone health benefits of apricots, today I’m thrilled to share with you a no-bake scrumptious energy bar recipe that’s chock-full of Foundation Foods. I know your bones (and taste buds) will love it!
Interesting Facts About Apricots
Like peaches and nectarines, apricots are originally from Asia. As they made their way from China to the Persian Empire and up to the Mediterranean, these small golden fruits found favor with everyone who tasted them. The first apricots in North America were brought by the Spanish explorers, who planted them in their California gardens. Today, California is the top producer of U.S. apricots.
The pits of apricots contain a “kernel” that yields a flavorful cooking oil. Actually eating the kernels as a snack remains controversial due to their cyanide content.
The name apricot means “precious” in Latin, probably due to their early ripening. These fruits are indeed precious when you consider their nutritional profile.
Apricots: A Foundation Food For Its Exceptional Boron Content
Apricots contain excellent levels of the Foundation Supplement boron, and are therefore listed as a Foundation Food in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
The trace mineral boron actually works to decrease the amount of calcium and magnesium excreted in the urine. It does this in part by being involved in bone metabolism and activating Vitamin D, which “carries” calcium and magnesium into your bones. To facilitate this process, boron helps your cells maintain healthy membranes.
Interestingly, boron also balances your natural estrogen levels by slightly increasing a form of estrogen called 17 beta-estradiol.
More Foundation Supplements Found In Apricots
- Vitamin C is an important vitamin for overall health and vital for building bone. It works synergistically with Vitamin D to nourish and build bone. In fact, research has shown that Vitamin C deficiency is directly involved in Vitamin D deficiency and decreased bone density. 1
- Vitamin K plays a role in a process that chemically alters osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein that works with Vitamin D to regulate osteoclasts (bone-building cells). Without this Vitamin K-dependent process, osteocalcin can’t do its job of building bone.
- Copper is not often considered with regard to bone health, but it’s actually a crucial trace mineral that is involved in connective tissue production. Copper actually facilitates a tissue-building enzyme that helps maintain bones and joints.
Apricots also contain high levels of potassium, an electrolyte and powerfully alkalizing mineral that aids muscle and nerve function and synthesizes protein.
More Bone Health Benefits From Apricots: Antioxidants And The Glycemic Index
Apricots contain the multi-tasking antioxidant lycopene. This phytochemical not only prevents oxidative damage to your bones by neutralizing free radicals. It also facilitates communication between cells which is essential to proper functioning of all body systems – especially the endocrine system.
And speaking of the endocrine system, Savers, and particularly diabetics, are concerned about the glycemic index of foods. Many alkalizing fruits are high on the glycemic index, raising concern among those for whom blood sugar is an issue.
Dried apricots, however, are among those fruits that are actually low on the glycemic index, so they won’t cause spikes in blood sugar.
Choosing And Storing Apricots
Fresh, ripe apricots should be golden orange-yellow, sometimes tinged with orange, and they should give slightly when gently pressed. Hard, light-yellow apricots or those tinged with green are not ripe. The riper the apricot, the higher the antioxidant content – as the green chlorophyll in the unripe fruit breaks down, it is replaced by antioxidants.2
When you buy dried apricots, look for fruit that is not treated with sulfites. The package may say “unsulphured,” but chances are you’ll need to check the ingredients list. Sulfites can cause allergic reactions in some people.
As always, choose organic whenever possible.
These fruits are quite versatile. Here are some delicious ideas: dried apricots are a flavorful addition to your favorite granola, and they are equally good chopped and mixed with quinoa or rice. Fresh or dried apricots also add tang and nutrients to green salads.
The recipe below takes advantage of dried apricots’ chewy texture, sweet-tart flavor, and bone-healthy nutrients to make a pH-balanced power bar. And no baking is required!
pH Balanced Snack Recipe:
No-Bake Nutty Fruit
Servings: 20 Bars
- 2 Cups puffed quinoa (see puffed quinoa recipe below)
- 1 Cup dried apricots, cut in quarters
- 1 Cup dried tart cherries (or your favorite alkalizing dried fruit)
- 1 1/2 Cups roasted almonds (you can use raw almonds if you prefer, but the bar will be less crunchy)
- 1/4 Cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- Stevia equivalent to 2 Tablespoons of sugar
- 1/4 Cup honey (adjust to desired sweetness)
- 1/4 Cup almond or peanut butter*
- Sea Salt to taste (optional)
*Recipe is also pH balanced if you use peanut butter
- Line an 8″x8″ pan with parchment or wax paper and lightly oil paper.
- In a large bowl combine puffed quinoa, dried fruits, almonds, and chocolate. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan melt coconut oil, stevia, honey, and almond butter over medium heat until oil melts, whisking until mixture is smooth. Pour over quinoa mixture and stir until completely coated.
- Spread into prepared 8″x8″ pan and press firmly down. Lightly sprinkle sea salt on top of bars, if desired. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
- Lift the mixture out of pan. Cut in half, then cut into preferred bar width.
How To Make Puffed Quinoa:
Puffed quinoa is not only delicious in these Nutty Fruit Bars; it also adds alkalizing crunch to salads, yogurt, and baked goods. Sprinkle it on your favorite granola recipe or simply eat puffed quinoa as a breakfast cereal. Given its versatility, you might want to make a bit extra!
Here’s how to do it…
- If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, place 2 cups in a fine sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear.
- Spread quinoa onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheet and allow to dry overnight, or bake in an oven on the lowest setting for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally for even drying.
- Heat a heavy saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. If you like, you can add about 2 teaspoons of oil.
- Pour in half a cup of quinoa, and cover.
- Shake the saucepan or skillet vigorously to prevent sticking. The quinoa will begin to “pop” as it puffs.
- When popping stops, pour quinoa out onto parchment paper-covered baking sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining quinoa.
- When the puffed quinoa is cool, it’s ready to use.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you’ll want to check out Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Bone Appétit contains over 200 recipes, all designed to build your bones! And for a limited time, you’ll get the bonus 30 Day Meal Planner and Blender Magic so that you’ll have everything you need to prepare delicious bone-healthy meals!
If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch this short video about Bone Appétit:
1 Segeev I N, Arkhapchev Y P, Spirichev V B. “Ascorbic Acid Effects on Vitamin D Hormone Metabolism and Binding in Guinea Pigs.” The Journal of Nutrition. 120:1185-1190, 1990.
2 Muller, Dr. Thomas, et al. “Colorless Tetrapyrrolic Chlorophyll Catabolites Found in Ripening Fruit Are Effective Antioxidants.” Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2007; 46(45): 8699-8702. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2912502/