Apricots are also abundant in good-for-your-heart soluble fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. But the real heart-healthy news about apricots is that they are brimming with beta-carotene, an important antioxidant that's a member of the vitamin A family. Researchers have linked beta-carotene-rich foods to the prevention of certain cancers, cataracts, and heart disease.
Since this fruit's season is short and sweet, canned and dried apricots offer a delicious alternative to fresh. Canned apricots, unfortunately, are not nutritionally equivalent to the fresh variety; sugar is often added during the canning process, and the high heat used in the process cuts the amount of beta-carotene and vitamin C in half.
The drying process concentrates the carbohydrates, so a single serving contains a hefty amount of calories. In fact, a half-cup serving of dried apricots yields three times the calories of a single serving of fresh. So read the labels and pay attention to serving sizes to make sure your portions don't play a role in a calorie overload.
Selection and Storage
Apricots are delicate and must be handled with care. One of the easiest ways to preserve these fragile gems is for growers to pick them before they are ripe. So you'll need to ripen the fruit for a day or two at room temperature before you can enjoy them. But don't pile them up or the pressure will cause them to bruise as they ripen. Once they are ripe, store them in the refrigerator. For the best flavor and nutrition, look for plump, golden-orange apricots that are fairly firm or yield slightly to thumb pressure. Avoid those that are tinged with green or have a pale yellow color; they were picked too soon.