Figs are an edible fruit from the Ficus carica tree. It is believed that figs originated in Egypt. Because of their flavor and nutritional benefits they were valued. They dried easily in the sun so it was easy to take them on journeys. As a result the trees were taken to other parts of the world and planted.
There are several varieties of figs but they are all similar. The colors are different denoting slight differences. Figs have a sweet pulp filled with crunchy little seeds.
Figs can be eaten fresh from the tree, dried, or in jellies. The best nutritional results are from fresh figs but they do not keep well so the most often way we see them is dried.
Figs are actually a false fruit. They are an infructescence which carries both the flowers and fruit of the ficus tree. The ostiole is the small orifice that allows fig wasps to enter to pollinate the flower. Then the seeds grow.
The health benefits of figs are many. As always you should discuss any medical conditions you have with your doctor. The use of figs for treatment could interfere with treatment or alter the way medication you are taking might work.
Figs are a good source of potassium. With all the salt added to processed foods potassium is necessary to keep your heart healthy. Low intake of foods rich in potassium can contribute to high blood pressure. In a study group people who added figs to their diets lowered their blood pressure significantly.
Potassium helps the blood vessels to relax which drops the blood pressure. The potassium in figs also increases urinary elimination of sodium chloride making the salt lelvels in the blood drop.
Figs are high in dietary fiber. One of the benefits of fiber is in weight control.
Fiber is a help in elimination regularity. Figs are one of those foods that have laxative effects if taken in large amounts so they are useful in treating constipation
Sometimes figs are used to rid the body of parasites such as worms. Care must be taken if trying this method. Often the large amounts of figs necessary can cause severe diarrhea.
Postmenopausal breast cancer seems to be prevented in a large number of women who ate high fiber diets rich in figs. Results were especially encouraging for women who received hormone therapy.
Those prebiotics you have been hearing about support the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract. They help in the digestion of food and general body health. Figs contain those prebiotics.
Figs contain coumarin that may help prevent prostate cancer.
The antioxidants in figs are good for prevention of many cancers. Luteolin is a flavonoid found in figs. It has been the most effective flavonoid in blocking the growth of tumors. Applied topically luteolin is used to treat skin cancer.
The pectin in figs helps control cholesterol.
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in figs that helps prevent lung and colon cancer.
Even the leaves of the tree are good for you. An extract made from the leaves has been shown to lower sugar levels in insulin dependent diabetics. Leaves are also used as a wrap for foods.
Macular degeneration is the primary cause of vision loss as one ages. Three servings of fruit including figs each day lowers the risk of macular degeneration.
Eating figs can reduce fatigue, improve memory, and prevent anemia.
Daily consumption of figs can ease the problems related to hemorrhoids.
Baked figs applied to the skin can treat ulcers of the skin and warts.
Mashed figs are an excellent skin cleanser and help prevent and cure acne.
The amount of calcium in figs makes a good addition to the diet of people who are lactose intolerant or those who choose to stay away from dairy products.
The calcium and potassium in figs prevents osteoporosis and helps increase bone density.
The tryptopan in figs relaxes you for a good night's sleep and fights insomnia.
Some people claim that figs increase their sexual prowess.
A decoction of figs can be gargled to relieve a sore throat.
Figs boiled in milk are placed against gums to ease swollen gums
It is important to mention that those who have kidney, liver, or gall bladder problems should be careful while eating figs.
Also there is a latex covering occurring naturally on both the tree and the figs. It is slightly toxic and you might be affected. Workers who harvest figs consider it an occupational hazard.
Fresh figs are the ideal way to eat them but dried figs are much easier to find for most of us. You can eat them raw. You can pop a dried fig into your mouth in the same way you would a prune.
Prunes are used in soups, salads, as a fruit sauce for meats, and in dessert. Use your imagination as you would with any food.