Figs - Facts, Nutritional And Health Benefits
Latin Name : Ficus carica
In India, fig is called Anjeer.
Fig is also called 'common fig'.
The fig tree is native to Egypt and Western Asia from where it spread to Greece and Rome and the to the Mediterranean and then over to the other parts of the world. It is an important commercial crop that is now widely grown worldwide.
The fig tree is about 20 to 30 feet tall with big deeply lobed fragrant leaves having 3 to 5 lobes. The tree bears fruit twice a year.
The flowers are borne as an inflorescence but within a common fleshy structure called syconium, which is hollow. Thus the blooms are not visible externally. The syconium is a ballooned hollow ended stem that contains the flowers.
At the other end of the syconium is a small orifice through which wasps enter, primarily to lay their eggs as they find this a safe place which also has nutrition for the growing larvae. Pollination is incidental.
This is the reason one frequently finds wasps or their larvae in figs.
Raw fig is green in color and matures to a brown or purple color. The fig plant exudes a milky sap that is irritating to our skin.
The fig plant can grow in any type of well drained soil. The roots are aggressive and go deep down to locate underground water, even searching for water in cracks in the rocks.
The fig tree offers a cool environment in hot ares and provides a cool shelter in times of extreme heat.
Uses Of Fig
The fig tree is grown for its edible fruit as well as for its ornamental value. Figs are eaten fresh and dried. They are also processed in various ways in the form of jams, marmalades, fig newtons etc. They are used in the making of many bakery products. The fruits are also candied.
Dried cull figs are roasted and ground to use as a coffee substitute. Low grade figs are used to make alcohol in Mediterranean countries.
An oil can is produced from its seed that is edible. The leaves are used as a fodder and in France the extract of the leaves is used as a material used to make perfumes.
Nutritional Benefits Of Figs
- Figs are low in calories providing about 74 calories/100 grams of fruit. Dried figs provide 249 calories per 100 grams.
- They contain good levels of dietary fiber, abuot 7% of the daily requirement per 100 grams.
- Figs are excellent source of the minerals calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium and iron.
- 100 grams of dried figs contain 640 mg copper, 162 mg calcium, 2.03 mg iron and 232 mg of potassium.
- They contain rich amounts of polyphenolic phytonutrients like carotene, lutein, tannin, chlorogenic acid etc
- Figs contain good levels of various Bcomplex vitamins and Vitamin A (5%), Vitamin K (4%) and Vitamin C (3%) of the daily value per 100 grams.
- Figs are sodium and cholesterol free.
Nutrition Facts - Fig
Fig fruit (Ficus carica)
Nutrition Value per 100 grams
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Health Benefits Of Fig
- Cancer Protection
The fiber in fig is cancer protective especially colon and breast cancer as studies indicate. The fig leaves also prevent growth of certain cancers.
- Benefits In Diabetes
Consumption of fig leaves reduces the requirement of insulin. This is especially useful for those who have high insulin requirement and need to take insulin injections.
The American diabetes Association recommends figs as a high fiber food to counter diabetes. The potassium content also controls sugar levels.
- Cardiovascular Benefits
Figs contain phenols, omega-3 and omega-6 which reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
The leaves lower triglyceride levels while the fiber lowers cholesterol levels, prevents atheroscelerosis and hardening of arteries. Potassium lowers blood pressure.
- Improves Bone Health
The calcium in figs promotes the density and health of bones while potassium prevents excretion of calcium by way of urine which diets high in salt cause.
- Aphrodisiac Value
Fig consumption aids in reducing sexual inadequacies. eating 2-3 figs morning and night with milk gives this benefit.
- Protects Vision
Figs contain antioxidant polyphenols lutein and zeaxanthin which help prevent age related vision disorder like macular degeneration.
- Reduces Weight
The dietary fiber and the low calories in figs make it an ideal addition to one's diet to obtain benefits of reducing weight while obtaining the various vitamins and minerals.
However if consumed with milk they increase weight.
- Prevents Digestive Problems
With almost 5 grams of dietary fiber in 3 figs keeping the digestive system functioning well. Issues like constipation, indigestion ,stomach ache etc are taken care of.
Some More Health Benefits Of Fig
- Apart from these benefits, some other heath benefits of figs are:
- It is useful in a variety of respiratory disorders like whooping cough, asthma etc.
- It is alkaline and helps to regulate body pH making it less prone to disease.
- It improves liver function.
- Baked figs applied on inflammations relieve boils and abscesses.
- Mashed figs applied on the face cleanse the skin and prevent and cure acne and pimples.
- Figs make an excellent substitute food to obtain calcium especially for those who are allergic to dairy products.
- Figs contain tryptophan and help to get good sleep, their iron content prevents anemia.
- Juice of green figs helps to soften corns.
Some Amazing Fig Facts
- Fig fruit bears the flowers inside it.
- Fig puree can be used instead of fat in making baked goods.
- Olympic athletes in early days used fig as a training food and figs the first to be handed out as Olympic medals.
- The fig tree is a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness.
- 1/2 cup of figs has as much calcium as 1/2 cup of milk.
- Fig is the most talked about fruit in the bible.
- Fig leaves were the first to be used as a clothing as per the Bible.
- Figs contain a chemical that prolongs the freshness and moistness of baked goods.
- California produces 100% of the country's dried figs and 98% of fresh figs.
- The fig tree was held sacred in all countries of Southwestern Asia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):403-12.
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Home-made Fig Newtons
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© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly