By Naini Setalvad October 2011 Replete with anti-oxidants, apricots not only help you stay young and healthy, but also fight cancer, informs Naini Setalvad With the festive season round the corner, everyone wants a bite of something sweet! A dry fruit tray, a must during the festive season, is incomplete without the apricot. Call it jardalu, alu bukhara or khubani – it is a welcome delicacy! On a recent visit to Hyderabad, I noticed that at every corner one could find khubani ka meetha – a healthy dessert made of apricots. When I went to Ladakh, darker versions of the dried apricot were available everywhere, from the street hawkers to higher-end shops. The locals and the tourists alike would pop in these chocolate-coloured, rock-solid dry fruits. Though rock hard, it can be sucked like a sweet. I carried them back to Mumbai, and the temperature difference made them so soft they melted in my mouth! When I went into the study of nutrition, I discovered that the Hunzas – one of the tribes in the North-west of India (Ladakh) – live up to hundred years. And even at age 80, they are able to cycle on the dreaded Himalayan terrains! One of the secrets of their longevity and agelessness is the dried apricot.For the rest of us, dried apricots make an excellent snack. Packed with several nutrients, they make an ideal food to munch on when you feel like eating something, especially if you have a sweet tooth. The health benefits of apricots are aplenty and when dried, these health benefits increase in intensity. To begin with, apricots are rich in beta carotene – a type of Vitamin A. This is great for your hair’s health as well as your skin. It contributes to your hair’s lustre and your skin’s glow. It also contains Vitamin C. This also makes your hair and skin healthier. This is because both, Vitamin A and Vitamin C act as antioxidants, protecting you from free radical damage and have a cleansing effect on your body. Apricots also contain lycopene, which is another anti-oxidant. Since anti-oxidants help fight against cancer, apricots, with as many as three anti-oxidants, are valuable in battling cancer. Apricots are also known to fight acidity. Once digested, they leave an alkaline residue in the body. So, after eating sinfully heavy meals, munch on a few pieces of dried apricots to relieve yourself from all the harmful foods that you have eaten. Apricots, which contain high amounts of fibre, also relieve constipation. The fibre smoothens and helps regulate bowel movements, and keeps the body clean. Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist,specialising in lifestyle and immunitydisorders. Her foundation, HealthFor You, throws light on healthyfood habits. Though dry fruits are considered harmful for diabetics, fresh and dry apricots are low on the glycemic index. This, therefore, makes a brilliant snack for diabetics – helping them to curb their sweet tooth. Others too can avail of it, since it results in sustained energy, over a longer period of time. Rich in iron, apricots are a big help during the menstrual cycle. Iron helps build blood cells, therefore it is recommended for everyone, from babies to menopausal women, to the aged as well. Khubani ka meetha Ingredients 10 dried apricotsWaterMethodDeseed the apricotsChop each into halfSoak overnight in as much water as the apricotsNext morning, cook them in the same waterServe them chilled, or warm as per your taste
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