The fragile, delicately flavored, velvet-skinned apricot, a relative of the peach, originated thousands of years ago in China. The fruit gradually worked its way westward on camel caravans to the Mediterranean, where it flourished. Greek mythology experts believe apricots are the "golden apples" of Hesperides — the fruit Hercules was ordered to pick in the eleventh of his twelve labors. Spanish explorers introduced apricots to California in the 18th century. California produces 95% of the apricots grown in the United States, producing over 69,000 tons which are harvested in May and June.
Fresh, dried or canned, apricots are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, with just one fresh apricot providing about the daily recommendation of vitamin A. Canned apricots provide three times more because heat processing breaks down cell walls, releasing additional beta-carotene.
Apricots provide carbohydrates and dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, plus the minerals, calcium and iron.
Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body. This nutrient helps protect the eyes and keep the skin, hair, gums and various glands healthy. It also helps build bones and teeth. Plus, research shows that Vitamin A helps to fight infection by maintaining strong immunity. For this reason, researchers are looking to apricots as a valuable source of beta-carotene's healing power.
Apricots also provide Vitamin C and are rich in fiber to help keep dieters on the go - in all directions. Apricots contain a good dose of potassium, one of the electrolytes in the body. The potassium balance may help ward off strokes.