Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) are members of the Rosaceae (Rose) Family, making them a relative of apple, peach and plum. They are believed to have originated in China, and that Alexander the Great brought them to Greece around the fourth century B.C. The word apricot is believed to originate from the Latin praecoquum, meaning "early ripening" or "precocious. In the East, apricot is referred to as "Moon of the faithful."
Apricots are laxative, due to their fiber and pectin content, nutritive and considered alkaline. Apricots are neutral, sweet and sour. They make an excellent midsummer fruit, moistening the lungs, and providing the body with yin fluids. Apricots are antioxidant. They have been used to treat acne, anemia, asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, constipation, hypertension, toxemia, and tuberculosis. Apricots are rich in fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, silicon, and cobalt. They contain a trace amount of lycopene, which is being researched as a cancer preventative.
Avoid dried apricots treated with sulfur dioxide as a preservative, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. Excess use of apricots may cause diarrhea and should be used in moderation during pregnancy.
Apricots are most delicious when orange in color, without green; otherwise they will be sour and immature. Enjoy them plain, breakfast, a lunchbox snack, or added to smoothies and fruit juices. Soak dried apricots overnight and reserve the water and enjoy for breakfast as "Stewed fruit." Apricot seed contains laetrile and has been used in alternative cancer therapies, however large amounts may be toxic. Apricot seed is also pressed into oil, excellent for skin. Apricot pulp is used as a facial to soften and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.