The fig is believed to be as old as human kind. The fig tree is native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Fig fruit has been a typical component in the health-benefiting Mediterranean diet for millennia. The legend of Cleopatra, mentioned figs as her most desired and chesired fruit and Spartan athletes in ancient Greece were said to eat figs in order to improve their performance. Read on to learn about of the figs health and nutrition benefits.
What's in a Fig?
Health benefits of figs can be attributed to the presence of minerals and vitamins in them. Figs have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruits. Figs contain vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium, chlorine, flavonoids and a digestive enzyme called ficin. A 100 gram serving of dried figs supplies sixteen percent of the recommended daily iron requirement – a mineral that’s important for building healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Forty grams of figs contains 244 mg of potassium (7% of the daily requirement), 53 mg of calcium (6% of the daily requirement) and 1.2 mg of iron (6% of the daily requirement). The calcium level in figs is very high: A crate of dried figs provides the same level of calcium as a crate of milk.
One of the active agents in figs is benzaldehyde. The Japanese identified this ingredient after giving it to cancer patients and seeing dramatic results. The patients generally lived longer.
The fig can constitute a part of just about any special diet. Since figs do not naturally contain fat, sodium or cholesterol but have high levels of fiber, they are an ideal food for those trying to lose weight.
A study showed that dried fruits such as figs contain high levels of phenol antioxidants that fight free radical damage. Of the fruits that were tested, dried figs and plums proved superior to all of the other dried fruits in terms of antioxidant content.
Figs have a higher fiber level than any other fruit or vegetable. One single dried fig provides two grams of fiber: 20% of the daily recommended intake.
Health Benefits From The Fig
Figs are amongst the most highly alkaline foods, making them useful in balancing the pH of the body. Figs are thought of as a medicine which gives strength and energy. They eliminate physical and mental difficulties. Figs are also recommended in the treatment of asthma, coughs and chills, constipation and digestive problems.
Figs fight aging. According to the California Fig Advisory Board, it is believed that the antioxidants in foods such as figs protect against aging and a number of diseases. Antioxidants neutralise harmful substances (free radicals) that arise as a result of chemical reactions in the body or else are taken in from the outside and thus prevent the destruction of cells. In one study performed by the University of Scranton, it was determined that dried figs had a much higher level of the phenol makeup, which is rich in antioxidants, than other fruits. Phenol is used as an antiseptic to kill micro-organisms.
Increase digestive health. Research over the last fifteen years or so has revealed that the fiber in plant foods is very important for the regular functioning of the digestive system. It is known that fiber in foods assists the digestive system and also helps reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. Nutritionists describe eating figs, which are rich in fiber, as an ideal way of increasing one's fiber intake.
Lower cholesterol levels. Pectin which is a soluble fiber is present in figs and is very effective in lowering the cholesterol levels of the body. Dried figs are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and phenol which lower the risk of developing coronary heart disease and cholesterol according to a study, by Rutgers University in New Jersey. The fiber contained in figs also help to prevent colon cancer. Many studies have shown figs to play an important role in restricting the possibility of breast cancer in post menopausal women.
Figs are a bone density promoter. They contain calcium (79 milligrams in an 8 oz-wt serving), a mineral that has many functions including promoting bone density. Additionally, figs’ potassium may also counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets, thus helping to further prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate. A species native to China, Indonesia, and Australia, (F. retusa) is used in Chinese medicine to treat toothache and tooth decay. But beware, dried figs are high in sugar. They can be soaked overnight to remove much of the sugar.
Figs prevent macular degeneration. Vision loss in older people is due to macular degeneration. Fruits and figs generally are good for avoiding this condition.
Proper functioning of heart, brain & nervous system. It is known that omega-3 and omega-6 cannot be manufactured in the body and need to be absorbed with food. Furthermore, these fatty acids are indispensable to the proper functioning of the heart, brain and nervous system. Phytosterol permits the cholesterol in animal products, which has the potential to harden the heart's arteries, to be expelled from the body without entering the blood stream.
Helpful for diabetes. Figs are known to control insulin levels in the body and as such are helpful for those with diabetes. Potassium is also contained in figs which regulate blood sugar levels, thereby decreasing the risk of diabetes.
Prevents high blood pressure. Figs are high in potassium and low in sodium.
Fever and respiratory conditions. Being mildly expectorant, figs prevent asthma, bronchitis, coughs and whooping cough. Fever are also alleviated by consuming figs.
Help prevent cancer. The figs major health benefit is possibly its anti-cancer activities. Wang ZB and Ma HL from Jiangsu University, China, extracted the active components from Fig using supper Critical carbon dioxide. The extracted compounds showed anti-cancer activities on U937, 95D and AGS cancer cells in vitro.
Promote the health of the liver.
Prevent venereal diseases.
Relieve pain and inflammations.
Works as a disinfectant if used externally.
Help shed pounds.
Differences in figs. Solomon A and co-workers from The Volcani Center, Israel, analyzed the contents of six commercial fig varieties. They found that color appearance of fig extract correlated well with total polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and antioxidant capacity. Extracts of darker varieties showed higher contents of phytochemicals compared to lighter colored varieties. In addition, fruit skins contributed most of the above phytochemicals and antioxidant activity compared to the fruit pulp.
DID YOU KNOW?
-Technically, the fig is not really a fruit. It's actually an inverted flower, or multiple fruit, enclosed in stem tissue instead of ovary tissue. Botanically this is called a syc
Fresh Fig Nutritional Value
Dried Fig Nutritional Value
|Calories (kcal)||74||Calories (kcal)||249|
|Fibre (g)||3||Fibre (g)||10|
|Fat (g)||0||Fat (g)||1|
|Protein (g)||1||Protein (g)||3|
|Sugar (g)||16||Sugar (g)||48|
|Vitamin A (IU)||142||Vitamin A (IU)||10|
|Vitamin C (mg)||2||Vitamin C (mg)||1.2|
|Vitamin B1||0.1||Vitamin B1||0.1|
|Vitamin B2||0.1||Vitamin B2||0.1|
|Vitamin B6||0.1||Vitamin B6||0.1|