Fresh apricots are in season from May through August in North America, and for many their bright color and flavor call to mind the sunny days of summer.

Apricots are stone fruits in the same family as peaches, though they’re more fleshy than juicy when compared to their orange-gold cousins. They also have a slightly more tart, less-sweet taste, similar to nectarines or plums.

Apricots are an abundant source of vitamins A and C, antioxidants that combat cell-damaging free radicals. They also contain phytochemicals, including polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins, as well as lycopene and quercetin, among others. These compounds have been linked to benefits like reducing inflammation, protecting vision, boosting immunity and enhancing skin health. In addition, apricots’ substantial dietary fiber is great for digestive health and may improve cholesterol levels.

This fruit’s many beneficial vitamins and minerals, including potassium and calcium, are a nutritional bargain when you consider that apricots are very low in fat, cholesterol free and have virtually no sodium. And with only about 20 calories in a medium-sized fresh apricot, it’s easy to fit them into your daily diet.

Look for fresh fruits that are fairly plump, with a deep, rich orange color — if they are hard or very pale they are underripe. For the best flavor, try to choose them when they are ripe and slightly soft but not mushy. Like peaches, apricots that aren’t quite ready to eat yet can be ripened in a day or two by keeping them in a paper bag at room temperature. Once they’re ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Take advantage of fresh and delicious summer apricots while they’re at their peak to add flavor and nourishment to your diet — and by utilizing dried, canned and frozen versions, you can continue to include this nutritious superfood in your diet all year long.

Creative ways to enjoy nutritious apricots:

+ Chop and sprinkle on yogurt, cottage cheese, cereal or oatmeal

+ Add to salads (especially great paired with nuts like almonds, pecans or walnuts)

+ Dice and add to cakes, muffins and nut breads

+ Grill to caramelize and bring out natural sweetness

+ Poach and sprinkle with cinnamon or drizzle with a little honey or maple syrup

+ Incorporate into a sweet and savory fruit salsa to top fish or pork

+ Puree and swirl into yogurt or add to pancake batter

+ Use apricot spread as a toast topping or in a sandwich

+ Add diced dried apricots to soups or stews

 

Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:

Apricot-orange muffins

Grilled apricots

Apricot-banana breakfast smoothie