Home Nuts & Seeds Health Benefits of Apricot Kernels

Health Benefits of Apricot Kernels

by Heaui

Apricot kernels are the seeds found inside the pits of apricots. They are known for their bitter taste and are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat respiratory ailments and digestive issues. In recent years, apricot kernels have gained popularity for their potential health benefits.

Apricot kernels contain a chemical called amygdalin, which is also found in bitter almonds. In the body, amygdalin is converted to cyanide, a toxic substance. However, proponents of apricot kernels argue that the amount of amygdalin in the kernels is too small to cause harm and that the substance may actually have health benefits. Some studies have suggested that amygdalin may have anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed to confirm this. Additionally, apricot kernels are a good source of protein and healthy fats, as well as vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.

While apricot kernels may have potential health benefits, it is important to note that consuming too many kernels can be dangerous. The cyanide content in the kernels can build up in the body over time and cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and headaches. It is recommended that adults consume no more than 1-2 kernels per day. Pregnant women, children, and individuals with certain medical conditions should avoid consuming apricot kernels altogether.

Nutritional Profile of Apricot Kernels

Apricot kernels are a great source of nutrition, containing a variety of vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in protein, with protein content ranging from 14.6% to 27.1% [1]. They also contain healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

In addition to protein and healthy fats, apricot kernels are rich in vitamins and minerals. They contain high levels of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Apricot kernels also contain vitamin B17, which is also known as amygdalin. Although there is some controversy surrounding the use of amygdalin, it is believed by some to have anti-cancer properties [2].

Apricot kernels also contain minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Potassium is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function, while magnesium is essential for strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is important for energy production and healthy cell function.

It is important to note that while apricot kernels are a great source of nutrition, they should be consumed in moderation. Consuming too many apricot kernels can lead to cyanide poisoning, as they contain a small amount of cyanide [3]. It is recommended that adults consume no more than 1-2 kernels per day, and children should not consume apricot kernels at all.

Potential Anticancer Properties

Apricot kernels have been studied for their potential anticancer properties. The main compound that is believed to have this effect is amygdalin, also known as vitamin B17 or Laetrile.

Amygdalin Content

Apricot kernels are one of the richest sources of amygdalin, containing up to 6% of this compound by weight. Other foods that contain amygdalin include bitter almonds, apple seeds, and peach pits.

It is important to note that amygdalin is a controversial compound, with some researchers claiming that it has anticancer properties while others argue that it is toxic and can cause cyanide poisoning.

Research Studies

Several studies have investigated the potential anticancer properties of amygdalin. One study found that amygdalin inhibited the growth of human cervical cancer cells in vitro.

Another study found that amygdalin inhibited the growth of human colon cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. However, this study also found that amygdalin was toxic to normal human colon cells, suggesting that it may have a selective toxicity against cancer cells.

Despite these promising results, more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of amygdalin as an anticancer agent.

Heart Health Benefits

Apricot kernels are known to have several heart health benefits. They are a rich source of omega fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Omega fatty acids help in reducing inflammation in the body, which is a major risk factor for heart diseases.

Omega Fatty Acids

Apricot kernels are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids help in reducing the risk of heart diseases by lowering the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. The omega-3 fatty acids present in apricot kernels also help in reducing inflammation in the body, which is a major risk factor for heart diseases.

Antioxidant Effects

Apricot kernels are also rich in antioxidants, which help in protecting the heart from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a condition in which the body produces an excess of free radicals that can damage the cells and tissues in the body, including the heart. Antioxidants help in neutralizing these free radicals and protecting the heart from damage.

Skin Health and Apricot Kernels

Apricot kernels are a rich source of vitamin E, which is known to benefit skin health. Vitamin E helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to premature aging and other skin problems. In addition to vitamin E, apricot kernels also contain other nutrients that are beneficial to skin health, such as fatty acids and antioxidants.

Vitamin E and Skin

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and other health problems. Vitamin E helps neutralize free radicals, protecting the skin from damage and keeping it healthy.

Apricot kernels are a rich source of vitamin E, with one study finding that they contain up to 17.4 mg of vitamin E per 100 g of kernel. This makes apricot kernels an excellent source of this important nutrient, which can help improve skin health and reduce the signs of aging.

Topical Use Benefits

In addition to their nutritional benefits, apricot kernels can also be used topically to improve skin health. Apricot kernel oil is a popular ingredient in many skincare products, thanks to its moisturizing and nourishing properties.

Apricot kernel oil is rich in fatty acids, which help moisturize and soften the skin. It also contains antioxidants, which help protect the skin from damage and reduce the signs of aging. Additionally, apricot kernel oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe irritated skin and reduce redness.

Immune System Support

Apricot kernels are believed to have immune system boosting properties due to their high vitamin and mineral content.

Vitamin B17

Apricot kernels are a rich source of Vitamin B17, also known as amygdalin. This vitamin is believed to have immune-boosting properties. According to a source, Vitamin B17 is believed to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are the body’s natural defense against infections and diseases. However, it is important to note that while Vitamin B17 is believed to have health benefits, it is also a controversial nutrient due to its potential toxicity.

Mineral Content

Apricot kernels are also rich in minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. These minerals are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. According to a source, magnesium is essential for the production of white blood cells, while potassium and phosphorus help to regulate the body’s immune response.

While apricot kernels may have immune-boosting properties, it is important to note that they should be consumed in moderation. Excessive consumption of apricot kernels can lead to cyanide poisoning, which can cause serious health problems. It is recommended to consume no more than 1-2 kernels per day. It is also important to consult a healthcare professional before adding apricot kernels to your diet, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking medication.

Risks and Considerations

Cyanide Toxicity

Apricot kernels contain a chemical called amygdalin, which the body turns into cyanide. Cyanide is a highly toxic substance that can cause serious harm if ingested in large amounts. According to a WebMD article, consuming more than three small raw apricot kernels per day can lead to cyanide poisoning. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, and in severe cases, coma and death.

It is important to note that the cyanide content in apricot kernels can vary greatly depending on the variety of apricot, how the kernels are processed, and other factors. Some sources suggest that bitter apricot kernels may contain higher levels of amygdalin and thus more cyanide than sweet apricot kernels.

Safe Consumption Guidelines

While apricot kernels do have potential health benefits, it is important to consume them safely and in moderation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against consuming more than three small raw apricot kernels per day. It is also recommended to avoid consuming apricot kernels during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as by children and individuals with liver or kidney disease.

To minimize the risk of cyanide toxicity, it is recommended to consume apricot kernels that have been processed to remove the amygdalin. This can include blanching, roasting, or boiling the kernels. It is also important to purchase apricot kernels from a reputable source and to store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Culinary Uses of Apricot Kernels

Apricot kernels are not only known for their health benefits but also for their culinary uses. They can be used in various dishes and recipes to enhance their flavor and nutritional value.

Apricot Kernel Oil

Apricot kernel oil is a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. It is extracted from the kernels and has a light, nutty flavor. This oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, making it a healthier alternative to other cooking oils. It is also high in vitamin E, which is essential for maintaining healthy skin and eyes.

Apricot kernel oil can be used for sautéing, frying, and baking. It is a great addition to salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. It can also be used as a base for homemade mayonnaise or as a substitute for butter in baking recipes.

Baking and Cooking

Apricot kernels can be used in baking and cooking to add a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. They can be ground into a fine powder and used as a substitute for almond flour in gluten-free baking. They can also be added to bread, muffin, and cookie recipes to add a unique flavor.

In addition, apricot kernels can be used to make a delicious and healthy snack. They can be roasted and salted to create a crunchy and flavorful snack. They can also be added to trail mixes or used as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt.

Comparative Analysis

Apricot Kernels vs Almonds

Apricot kernels and almonds are both nutritious nuts that have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. A comparative analysis of the two nuts shows that apricot kernels are a good source of protein, with a protein content ranging from 14.6 to 27.1%. In contrast, almonds have a slightly lower protein content, ranging from 12 to 21%. However, almonds are a good source of healthy fats, with a higher content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats compared to apricot kernels.

Both apricot kernels and almonds are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Apricot kernels have a higher content of vitamin B17, also known as amygdalin, compared to almonds. Vitamin B17 has been studied for its potential health benefits, although more research is needed to confirm its efficacy.

Traditional Medicine Perspectives

Apricot kernels have been used in traditional medicine for their potential health benefits. In Chinese medicine, apricot kernels are believed to have a cooling effect on the body and are used to treat coughs and asthma. They are also used to improve digestion and relieve constipation.

In traditional Persian medicine, apricot kernels are used to treat respiratory infections and skin conditions. They are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and are used to relieve pain and swelling.

Almonds have also been used in traditional medicine for their potential health benefits. In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are believed to improve brain function and memory. They are also used to treat skin conditions and improve digestion.

Related Posts