The fig is the fig tree we know from the New Testament, but it is also called the fig tree and the wine berry. Its fruit tastes like a mixed mix of strawberries and peaches, and its benefits are due to its rich biochemical composition. Ancient Greeks worshipped figs as a symbol of love and fertility and gave young people a basket of figs as a wish for a future rich life together with lots of children, and the country also issued a law banning the export of fruits of certain varieties of fig tree.
In the troops of Alexander the Great figs were given to soldiers to quickly restore physical and moral strength after a hard battle. And the ancient Romans, in fact, revered figs as a sacred tree. According to legend, the shade cast by the crown of the fig tree was a favorite resting place of the Capitoline she-wolf, who nurtured the twins who later founded Rome.
Figs are a subtropical tree, over ten meters high (in unfavorable soils they develop like shrubs), with a well-developed root system that goes very far into the ground. Figs can be picked with gloves on, as their leaves give off a stinging sap when exposed to the sun. Depending on the species, the fruit, which resemble a pear, has a yellow to dark purple skin and amber to purple flesh. The flowers on fig branches are not visible, they are hidden inside the fruit itself and are later transformed into small-sized seeds.
It is believed that figs came from Caria, one of the Asia Minor provinces. Later merchants and travelers, bringing saplings with them, propagated them to the Mediterranean and further on to England, Australia, Africa and China. Nowadays, figs grow in countries with warm climates, such as South America, Portugal, Italy, Iran, Greece, India etc. In Russia, they are mainly found in the coastal areas of the Black Sea, in the Krasnodar region, on the Kavaz, etc.
Composition, calories, nutritional value
Figs refer to low-calorie products, as they contain only 74 kcal/100 g, their biochemical composition includes:
- Vitamins of group A, B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9), C, E, K;
- Sodium, calcium, potassium, copper. iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium.
Figs in their fresh form are included in many diets for weight loss due to the low caloric content and a large number of useful substances, but in dried form its use should be limited to a small amount (no more than 30 g per day), as in the dried fruit increases significantly the sugar content (up to 70%) and calories (up to 250 kcal/100 g), but the expected benefits will not be achieved by exceeding the recommended doses.
Benefits for the body
Figs are a treasure trove of beneficial biologically active substances, minerals and vitamins, especially noted for their usefulness in the treatment of cancer.
Figs are also recommended for the following health disorders:
- To those who have suffered a serious illness or surgery, figs restore strength and supply the body with the energy it needs to function fully;
- Thanks to their immunomodulatory qualities, figs are effective in treating colds, respiratory and viral diseases;
- Figs help restore heart rhythms, their benefit also lies in the preventive action against diseases of the cardiovascular system. Consumption of leaf extract reduces triglyceride concentrations, and pectin (soluble fiber) removes excess bad cholesterol from the body, which is very important for cardiac health. Fatty acids (phenols, Omega 3 and Omega 6) reduce the risk of ischemia;
- Figs relieve intestinal disorders and digestive disorders;
- For women, the benefits of figs in the treatment of varicose veins are very important. It is enough to regularly consume four to five figs a day, and cramps, heaviness in the legs, edema will be cured;
- For men, the benefit of fig berries is to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack due to the high content of magnesium and potassium. Also, figs help restore normal physical and psychological condition after hard physical labor and high-intensity workouts;
- Figs ease the condition of patients with diabetes. You can eat not only its fruit, but also its leaves, the extract from which, thanks to its active anti-diabetic effect, allows you to reduce insulin doses;
- Figs help those suffering from asthma, bronchitis (here the healing benefits come from the use of tea leaves), in disorders of the stomach and diseases of the genitourinary system;
- Figs effectively reduce high blood pressure due to the presence of potassium in the composition. With a lack of dietary vegetables, fruits and addiction to salty foods, there is a lack of potassium in the body and an overabundance of sodium, hence the direct route to hypertension. And according to the results of laboratory studies, it was concluded that figs, when introduced into the diet and consumed regularly, restore the necessary amount of potassium and stabilize blood pressure;
- Figs help to get rid of excess weight: the fresh fruit is rich in dietary fiber, the benefits of which lie in the rapid provision of a sense of satiety, activation of metabolism and removal from the body of decay products, toxins and waste;
- In digestive disorders it is recommended to eat figs every day in an amount of three pieces, its benefit lies in the fact that the dietary fiber normalizes the peristalsis of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in the establishment of its work, disappear such unpleasant phenomena as constipation and diarrhea;
- Figs are a strong antioxidant, stopping the pathological oxidative phenomena in the body. In this case, the benefit of dried fruits will be greater, because they have a greater amount of antioxidant substances than fresh ones;
- Figs make up for the lack of calcium, increasing its reserves in the body. It also contains phosphorus. Thanks to these elements there are effective benefits to the body, so they activate the growth of bone connective tissue, reduce the risk of osteoporosis;
- Figs have a unique antifungal and antibacterial effect;
- The use of figs provides effective benefits in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, infertility and other diseases of the reproductive organs. This is a strong aphrodisiac, to increase libido is recommended to use two fruits daily, pre-moistened in milk;
- Figs are effective in smoothing wrinkles that have already appeared and in preventing the formation of new ones. Also with regular use of pomace of the leaves of the plant lightens too dark pigmented skin areas, acne scars, freckles;
- Fig pulp has an antipyretic and diaphoretic effect. Coumarin, contained in the leaves of the plant, increases the human body’s sensitivity to the radioactive effects of the sun.
Figs, additional health benefits
The medicinal benefits of figs do not end with the above list. Many years of laboratory research have determined the positive restorative and healing effects of figs in more than forty cases of respiratory, endocrine, digestive and reproductive system diseases. Figs are used as an effective component in the treatment of whooping cough, sore throat, uncontrolled abdominal muscle contractions, indigestion and other gastrointestinal pathologies, fevers, anemia, liver diseases, paralysis, dermatological diseases, earaches, poor vision, abscesses, furuncles, venereal diseases, high or low acidity.
How figs are used in cosmetology
One of the most effective therapeutic masks to help get rid of chronic acne, it is enough to apply daily for 15-20 minutes crushed into a puree of fig pulp, and the positive effect will not keep you waiting. For cosmetic purposes are used not only the fruit, but also the leaves and trunk, for example, the juice from the trunk of the plant softens corns and warts. If figs are baked, then crushed into a pulp and applied to problem areas, you can cure abscesses, various inflammations and boils.
Thanks to the antioxidant qualities of fig juice, the skin will become radiant and smooth. In making scrubs from fig pulp should be mixed with sugar and add olive oil, apply to the skin for about 10-15 minutes and rinse with water. Also effective mask of fig pulp, ginger and oat flakes, milled to powdered state, a few drops of bergamot oil. Its usefulness lies in evening out the skin tone and making it firm and elastic.
Wiping the face with the peel of the fresh fig tree fruit will make your skin smooth and fresh. Figs are also good for hair: masks of fruit pulp will make them smooth, manageable and shiny, will have a moisturizing effect, prevent the appearance of early gray hair.
Cautions and recommendations
Figs are very useful, but in order that the benefits do not turn into harm, you must follow some recommendations for its use. Do not exceed the recommended amount and overeat figs, otherwise there is a high probability of diarrhea. They can also spoil your teeth, because figs contain a lot of sugar. Allergic reactions can occur if you overindulge in figs.
Especially careful should give figs to children, in order to avoid allergies, you should start with a small amount, in the absence of adverse reactions, you can slightly increase the amount of fruit consumed. Those suffering from diabetes should be aware that the concentration of sugar in dried fruits is increased in comparison with fresh fruits, and this can be dangerous to health. Alkalic acid, which is part of the figs, can provoke urolithiasis if too much, so again we repeat that figs should not be overeaten. Suffering from a chronic form of hypotension, figs are contraindicated because they sharply lower blood pressure.
Choosing and storing figs correctly
Since fresh figs spoil quickly, you should eat them one or two days after purchase. And after harvesting, the fruit is stored for about 10 days. A good quality fruit can be defined as follows: the color of the fruit is rich, the texture is tender, not loose, the stem is firm, the aroma is sweet and delicate. Sour notes indicate that the fruit has already gone bad, and bitter – that it is not ripe. It is better to eat ripe fruits, because they are the most delicious and contain the most antioxidants and other nutrients.
When buying dried fruit, you should also pay attention to the following: a quality product is soft, it has no mold and damage, the smell is pleasant, without sourness and bitterness.
The best way to store ripe fruit is in the refrigerator, wrapped in wax paper or put in a closed container so they do not crumple and do not dry out. Unripe fruit should be stored in a dark place so that it is not exposed to the sun, at normal room temperature. Dried fruit can be stored for several months if placed in the refrigerator, or any other dark and cool place. Since figs tend to absorb odors, they should be kept away from other foods.
Frozen figs can be stored for up to a year and a half. Dried figs can be kept for up to a year if kept in a cool, dark place in a covered container.
How to eat it
Before eating, you should rinse the fruit well under cold running water (this applies to both fresh and dried fruits). Then cut off the stem and blot with a towel. Dried fruit for juiciness can be soaked in either pure water or juice.
Both fresh and dried fruit make a delicious addition to oatmeal. Fig pieces are also added to ice cream, yogurt, and a variety of desserts. A delicious salad of arugula, parmesan and fennel is prepared with figs. Also fresh figs are stuffed with almonds, chopped in a blender and cheese (preferably take goat cheese). Very tasty dish of dried figs with venison, lamb or meat of any bird.
- Medical News Today – Can figs be beneficial to our health?
- The scientific world journal “Hindawi.” – Ficus carica L. (Moraceae): phytochemistry, traditional uses and biological activities.
- American Diabetes Association. – Effect of a fig fruit extract standardized in abscisic acid on the glycemic and insulinemic responses in healthy human subjects.
- U.S. National library of medicine. – Antitumoral activity of Ficus carica L. on colorectal cancer cell lines.
- U.S. National library of medicine. – Effects of Ficus carica paste on constipation induced by a high-protein feed and movement restriction in beagles.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. – A guide to calcium-rich foods.
- U.S. National library of medicine. – Effects of cream containing Ficus carica L. fruit extract on skin parameters.
- Health website Healthline. – All you need to know about figs.