A Look Into the Health Benefits of Figs
What is a fig? Is it a flower or a fruit? No matter how people define what it is, the fascinating facts and the health benefits of figs are as interesting as how it looks. It is usually referred to as a fruit. But to set the records straight, according to the California Fig Advisory Board, the fig is actually an inverted flower and its many seeds are its fruits.
Figs mature into a bulb-shaped fruit with wrinkled and leathery skin, which usually ripens toward purple or brown in color. But, there are actually varieties with green, red and black skin in color. What makes it distinct is its sweet and deep red flesh inside the fruit filled with seeds that are crunchy and edible, which can be eaten either fresh or dried. However, it is usually commercially sold dried or as jams, as fresh figs do not store well after picking.
Inside the Fig
But more than its luscious and sweet flavor, its nutritional benefits are among nature’s finest. Once you learn how healthy a dried, uncooked fig is, you will definitely keep it as a healthy addition to your diet. According to the USDA, the dark purple Mission fig variety is richest in fiber, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and Vitamin K relative to human needs.
A large fig only contains about 47 calories, 0.2 g fats, 0.1 g of polyunsaturated fats and no saturated fats. It also contains only about 1 mg of sodium, 2.3 g of total carbs, 1.9 g of dietary fiber, 0.5 g of protein and no cholesterol. To maximize its nutritional benefits, you can even add dried figs to your favorite cereals, salads or oatmeal.
Best for Dieters
If you are in search for a low calorie treat to satisfy your sweet cravings, then the figs are the best choice for dieters. It is a guilt-free sweet treat for those who are in search for the excellent diet food. It is the richest plant source for fiber that helps you to feel fuller for longer periods of time. The calcium, iron and potassium in fig help replenish electrolytes, which energizes your cells needed during workouts.
Rarely do you find a fruit that has this health benefit. Traditionally, it is recommended to correct sexual dysfunctions, such as sexual weakness, endurance and erectile dysfunction. Its high content of essential vitamins and minerals helps to provide sudden boost of energy and stamina.
Figs contain high potassium and low sodium levels, which is a perfect combination against the development of hypertension and can help settle the nerves. In fact, a serving of dried figs can help you meet 10 percent of your recommended daily value for potassium.
Prevents Constipation and Promotes Healthy Tummy
Every 100g serving of figs contains 9.8 g of dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber helps add bulk to your stool, improve bowel function and eliminate diarrhea. Consuming 2 to 3 dried figs soaked with a tablespoon of honey can help relieve constipation. It also has a laxative effect and contains pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps stimulate healthy bowel movement. Because of this, it prevents certain types of abdominal cancer and colon cancer.
Good Source of Iron
A one-cup serving of dried figs contains 2.03 mg of iron that meets 16% of the recommended daily value. This essential trace mineral helps transport oxygen to the blood, which helps you fight off infections and feel more energized.
A soluble fiber called pectin found in figs helps clean excess cholesterol from the digestive system and carrying them to the excretory system for elimination from the body.
It also contains phenols, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It also helps manage and decrease the triglycerides in the system, which reduces the risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
It is high in calcium, which is essential for strengthening the bones. The phosphorus in figs also encourages bone formation and spur regrowth for any damage or degradation of the bones. The combination of these two minerals helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Figs are a good sweet treat alternative for diabetic patients. Its high fiber content helps to control diabetes, while its leaves can help in reducing the amount of insulin. Its potassium content, on the other hand, helps in regulating the absorption of sugar into the body after meals and in monitoring and maintaining blood spike and fall.
Healthy Skin Benefits
If there is one thing great about figs is that it contains numerous skin health benefits. The Vitamin B, Vitamin C and high Omega fatty acids help boost and rejuvenate the skin and keep it moisturized and conditioned. It also helps to reduce skin inflammation and treat skin conditions, like acne, pimples and psoriasis. The Vitamin C in figs helps to lighten and even out the skin tone and it also contains enzymes that act as an exfoliator, which helps clear out dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.
Healthy Luscious Hair
And its healthy benefits does not stop on the skin, it also works well in giving you a healthy head of hair. The essential nutrients in the fruit help promote hair growth and stimulate blood circulation in the scalp. In fact, fig oil and extract are commonly used in hair care products to help condition, moisturize and even maintain a healthy color to your hair.
Cure For Sore Throat
It also contains high mucilage that can help relieve sore throat and alleviate the pain and stress on the vocal chords.
However, as with anything else, too much of a good thing can also be harmful. Ironically, while it can help in promoting healthy digestive functioning, eating too much of figs can also cause diarrhea. In the same manner, its high sugar content can potentially result in tooth decay. And figs contain certain chemicals that can result in allergic reactions. It is always suggested that you take figs, or any food item for that matter, in moderation despite its healthy benefits.
So the next time that you stop by the fruit market or grocery aisle, why not pick a bag of fresh figs. Its interesting appearance and the many health benefits will be worth your penny. Just remember to store them in a bag in the coldest part of the fridge to retain its freshness and its healthy offering.