Fig fruits are one-of-a-kind fruits that resemble the shape of a teardrop. They’re roughly the size of a thumb, with hundreds of tiny seeds and an edible purple or green peel. The fruit’s pink flesh has a mild, sweet flavour.
The fig fruit was one of the first fruits to be planted. Its cultivation extended through ancient times, throughout the Levant and the Aegean Sea region. History says that Caria gave this fruit to the Greeks. Interestingly, the Attic figs were famous in the East, and there were special laws to control its export. Nevertheless, the fig fruit was one of the most significant foods for the Greeks, and it was prevalent during public feasts among the Spartans. In Latin mythology, the fig tree that overshadowed the twin founders of Rome in the wolf’s cave was a sign of the race’s future wealth.
Fig fruits and their leaves are abundant in nutrients and may provide various health benefits. For example, they may aid in the maintenance of a healthy digestive tract, prevent heart diseases, and regulate blood sugar levels.
This article talks about the nutritional properties, benefits, and uses of fig fruits. In addition, it also talks about different ways to include them in your diet.
What are Fig Fruits?
The fig, commonly known as Ficus Carica, is a plant in the mulberry family that produces edible fruit. The common fig grows wild in Turkey and northern India. Most Mediterranean countries have their wild seedlings. Since people worldwide use it in its fresh and dried forms, the fig is regarded as “the poor man’s food” in the Mediterranean.
There are numerous ways to include figs in your diet, each with its own set of benefits. The four most frequent ways to integrate figs into your diet are as follows:
1. Fresh Figs
Fresh figs are low in calories and a tasty snack. They also taste delicious in salads and desserts. In addition, you can also use fresh figs to make fig jams or preserves.
2. Dried Figs
Dried figs are high in sugar and calories. Hence, you should use them in moderation. However, they may be more effective than fresh figs for relieving constipation.
3. Fig Leaves
Fig leaves are nutritious, and you may use them in many ways. However, it is difficult to find them except for specialised grocery stores. Like grape leaves, people often use fig leaves as a wrap for meals with rice, pork, or other ingredients.
4. Fig Leaf Tea
People use dried fig leaves to make fig leaf tea. You may make your version of fig leaf tea or get it ready-made online or from speciality stores.
Although the natural sugar in fresh figs has high calories, a few figs can act as a low-calorie snack. On the other hand, dried figs are high in sugar and calories. That is because the sugar in the fruits concentrates when dried.
Since dried figs are dehydrated, they have lower water content and a more concentrated supply of nutrients than fresh figs. However, depending on the drying method, they may have some nutritional loss depending on the drying method.
Nutritional Properties of Figs
Fresh fig fruits are nutrient-dense and low in calories, making them an excellent supplement to a nutritious diet.
The nutritional value per 100 grams of fresh fig fruits is:
- Energy – 74 Kcal
- Carbohydrates – 19.18 g
- Protein – 0.75 g
- Total Fat – 0.30 g
- Dietary Fibre – 2.9 g
- Folates – 6 µg
- Niacin – 0.400 mg
- Pantothenic acid – 0.300 mg
- Pyridoxine – 0.113 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.050 mg
- Thiamin – 0.060
- Sodium – 1 mg
- Potassium – 232 mg
- Calcium – 35 mg
- Copper – 0.070 mg
- Iron – 0.37 mg
- Magnesium – 17 mg
- Manganese – 0.128 mg
- Selenium – 0.2 µg
- Zinc – 0.15 mg
Health Benefits of Fig Fruits
Fig fruits have several health advantages, including boosting digestive and cardiovascular health and perhaps assisting with blood sugar management.
1. Promotes Weight Loss
Figs are high in fibre and low in calories, thus making them an ideal snack when you are on your weight loss journey. When included in a well-balanced diet, high-fibre foods like figs can help you feel full between meals and reduce overeating. As a result, they may help boost the weight loss process. Multiple studies support the claim that dietary fibres help with weight loss.
Soaking dried figs makes them easier to digest and the nutrients more absorbable. According to some claims, rehydrating fig fruits with water makes them more filling, resulting in decreased calorie consumption and weight loss.
Some studies associate fruit intake, especially dried fruits, with weight loss. That is because fruits are abundant in nutrients and can help you maintain a healthy weight and overall health. However, more human studies are required to support this notion.
2. Helps you attain Better Skin
Fig fruits may be beneficial to the skin. However, it is mainly for allergic dermatitis or dry, itchy skin. Nevertheless, research proves the effectiveness of dried fig fruits on the skin. Researchers used a cream made with dried fig fruit extract on 45 children. It was done twice daily for two weeks, and the results we surprising. The dried fig fruit cream was more effective than hydrocortisone cream in treating dermatitis symptoms.
Furthermore, another study suggests that a combination of fruit extracts, including fig extracts, have antioxidant effects on skin cells. As a result, they help prevent collagen breakdown and reduce wrinkles.
3. Helps with Male Infertility and Boosts Sperm Count
Zinc is essential for testosterone synthesis. Therefore, men who are deficient in zinc may have reduced testosterone levels. However, fig fruits are rich in zinc. As a result, figs are a fantastic way to boost your testosterone levels naturally.
Figs include a high level of antioxidants and essential nutrients and minerals. As a result, it can help improve sperm motility and count. Therefore, fig fruits are incredibly beneficial in increasing sperm count. A study proves the efficiency of fig leaf extracts in increasing sperm count.
4. Encourages Good Digestive Health
Constipation is a frequent digestive problem. People have been using fig fruits as a home cure or natural remedy for constipation. Fig fruits are rich in fibre, which can improve digestive health. As per studies, fibre helps soften and thicken stools, decreases constipation, and acts as a prebiotic or food source for the beneficial bacteria in your stomach.
Another study suggests that fig fruit extract or pastes may aid in the passage of food through the digestive tract. As a result, it reduces constipation and eases the symptoms of digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis.
In another research, 150 people with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) consumed roughly four dried figs twice a day. They experienced a dramatic reduction in symptoms like pain, bloating, and constipation. In a similar study, 300 grams of fig fruit paste daily for eight weeks significantly improved constipation.
Thus, it is clear that fig fruits effectively improve your digestive health.
5. Anti-Inflammatory in Nature and Aids with Arthritis
Antioxidants in figs protect cells from free radicals and prevent inflammation. At the same time, figs are abundant in phytochemicals. These phytochemicals also play a crucial role in reducing inflammation.
Many studies showcase the presence of flavonoids and polyphenols in dried figs. These phytochemicals help decrease inflammation and prevent free radicals from creating new inflammation. It, in turn, helps with osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and periodontal bone resorption.
6. Helps with Cardiovascular Health
Figs can help you enhance your vascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease. It is because fig fruits help lower your blood pressure and blood fat levels. As per a study, fig extract reduced blood pressure in normal and high blood pressure mice. In addition, another study suggests that fig leaf extracts may enhance good cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Therefore, it helps improve heart health.
7. Aids in Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels
A 1998 study including ten people with type 1 diabetes says that drinking fig leaf tea with breakfast may lower insulin requirements. During the month of this experiment, these people drank fig leaf tea. As a result, it reduced their insulin doses by about 12%. Hence, it reveals the effect of fig extracts on maintaining blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, a recent study revealed that beverages with high doses of fig fruit extract had a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than other drinks. It means that fig fruits may better affect blood sugar levels.
However, fig fruits, especially dried, are high in sugar and may temporarily elevate blood sugar levels. So, if you have trouble regulating your blood sugar levels, you should avoid eating dried figs.
8. Has Anti-Cancer Properties
As per several studies, fig leaves and natural latex from fig plants have anti-cancer properties. They help suppress human colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer cell growth.
Further studies suggest that Fig Fruit latex (FFL) contains significant polyphenolic compounds. Therefore, FFL consumption can serve as a source of antioxidants. In addition, these studies indicate that FFL exhibit potent cytotoxicity in some human cancer cells with little effect in normal cells. It inhibits DNA synthesis, induction of apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest of cancer cells.
Uses of Figs
1. For Atopic Dermatitis:
Applying a lotion containing fig fruit extract can help children with eczema feel less itchy. Therefore, you can use fig fruit lotions to prevent skin issues like dermatitis.
2. For Constipation:
Consuming a fig fruit paste softens stools and does not increase stool frequency. Therefore, you can use fig fruit paste to relieve constipation.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you can benefit from a tea made from fig leaves. It also lowers blood sugar levels after a meal. So, you can have fig fruit leaves tea to improve blood sugar levels and control diabetes.
You can put the milky sap of the fig tree on warts. It helps heal them without causing any irritation.
Healthy Recipes using Figs
1. Ricotta and Fig Toasties
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
- Multigrain bread (preferably with crust): 2 slices
- Ricotta cheese: ¼ cup
- Fresh figs (sliced): 2
- Sliced almonds (toasted): 1 tsp
- Honey: 1 tsp
- A pinch of salt
- Toast both the slices of bread.
- Spread ricotta cheese on each bread slice
- Top it with the sliced figs (one fig per slice of bread).
- Drizzle the toasted almond slices.
- Top it up with a drizzle of honey (to taste)
- Sprinkle the salt on top to finish it off.
2. Apple and Fig Salad
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
- Balsamic vinegar: 2 tbsp
- Mustard: 2 tsp
- Green onion (minced): 1 tbsp
- Salt: ¼ tsp
- Pepper (to taste)
- Extra virgin olive oil: ¼ cup
- Green leafy veggie of your choice (kale, rocket, spinach etc.): 8 cups
- Apple (thinly sliced): 1
- Walnuts (toasted): ¼ cup
- Fresh figs (sliced): 4
- Pomegranate seeds: ¼ cup
- Dried cranberries: 2 tbsp
- Combine the vinegar, mustard, green onion, salt, and pepper. in a small bowl
- Next, add in the olive oil and whisk it all together.
- Combine in a large mixing bowl the green leafy vegetables, apple, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
- Drizzle on the dressing and toss it up.
- Add ground pepper and additional salt (if required)
- Add the finishing touches by topping it with figs, pomegranate seeds and dried cranberries.
3. Grilled Figs with Goat Cheese
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
- Goat cheese: ⅓ cup
- Milk: 1 tbsp
- Honey: 2 tsp
- Thyme (chopped): ½ tsp
- Small fresh figs (halved): 12
- Salt: ¼ tsp
- Preheat grill to 400-450 degrees.
- Mix milk, goat cheese, honey and thyme
- Spoon in the mix into a zip lock bag to keep it mess-free.
- Brush a bit of cooking oil (of your choice) on both sides of the halved figs.
- Grill the figs with the cut side down and grill them till they are lightly charred.
- Take them off the grill after they are slightly softened.
- Transfer the grilled figs to a serving tray.
- Sprinkle salt on the figs. Try to spread the salt as evenly as possible.
- Pipe out the mixture you previously made onto the figs’ cut sides.
- Garnish with a generous sprinkle of thyme on top.
- Top it with a drizzle of honey if you want to make it sweeter.
Figs: Things to Remember
- You should not eat more than 2-3 figs each day. Being highly fibrous, they can cause stomach problems if you consume more than recommended.
- There is no specified time for eating figs. However, the morning is the best time to consume dried fruits. So, if you are eating dried figs, morning is the best time to do so.
- Applying fig leaves to the skin may be hazardous. It might make your skin more sun-sensitive. Avoid prolonged sun exposure when applying fig leaves to the skin.
- Individuals with sensitive skin may get a rash after contact with fig fruit or leaves.
- Most people consume fresh figs in their raw form. The whole fig is delicious, from the thin skin to the scarlet or purple meat and the countless tiny seeds.
- When you soak dried figs in water, they give additional health benefits. Soaking breaks down the soluble fibre content of figs. It also helps to slow down the absorption of glucose in the body.
- Although fig fruits are a plant-based food, there is a debate on their inclusion in a vegan diet. It is primarily due to their developmental process. In addition, figs rely on pollination wasps for reproduction. A theory is that the fig fruit results from a wasp’s death. Therefore, it should not be a part of vegan foods. However, figs rely on wasps for reproduction in the same way that wasps rely on figs.
Probable Side Effects of Figs
Figs may provide a lot of health benefits. In addition to the fruit, fig leaves and fig leaf tea are also beneficial to our health. At the same time, dried figs may help relieve constipation. However, there are some drawbacks to using fig fruits and extracts. For example, consuming it as a home remedy for constipation may cause diarrhoea or other digestive problems. In addition, vitamin K, abundant in figs, can interact with blood-thinning medications, reducing their effectiveness.
Certain people may have allergic responses to figs. For example, you’re more likely to be allergic to figs if you’re sensitive to birch pollen. In addition, natural latex may also be present in fig-trees, which can cause allergic responses in certain people.
Therefore, it is always recommended to understand your body and the possible allergies before consuming the fig fruit. However, if your body is not allergic to fig fruits, it has plenty of benefits to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the benefits of eating figs?
A. Eating figs helps with weight loss and improves our skin’s appearance. For men, it also helps with infertility and increases sperm count. In addition, it has other health benefits as it helps with blood pressure, heart health and digestion.
Q. How many figs should I eat a day?
A. You should consume 2-3 figs per day.
Q. What happens if you eat figs every day?
A. Eating figs every day can promote weight loss. It may aid with infertility in men. In addition, it also provides relief from pain due to arthritis and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Q. Why figs are not vegan?
A. Figs are not considered vegan by some as the fruit is a result of a wasp’s death. However, the fig plant and the wasp have symbiotic nature and depend on each other to further their species.
Q. What is the best time to eat figs?
A. Since the best time to consume dried fruits is in the morning, the best time to eat dried fig fruits is in the morning. As for the fresh fruit, there is no specified time.
Q. What are the side effects of fig?
A. Figs may cause diarrhoea if consumed in excess. It can also have an adverse reaction if consumed alongside blood-thinning medicines.
Q. Does fig increase sperm count?
A. Yes, studies have shown that fig increases sperm count.
Q. Are figs a superfood?
A. Because of their rich nutritional value, figs are considered a superfood.
Q. Is it OK to eat figs at night?
A. It is okay to eat figs at night. Studies have also shown that having figs at night could result in better sleep. But if you are consuming it in dried form, it is recommended to eat it in the morning.
Q. Are figs good for males?
A. Figs are suitable for men. Studies show that they not only help with infertility but also help in increasing the sperm count.
Q. Do figs help fertility?
A. Yes, Figs help with fertility in men.
Q. Do figs have vitamin C?
A. Figs do have vitamin C. For example, a serving of 100g figs has 2mg of Vitamin C.
Q. Are figs anti-inflammatory?
A. Figs are anti-inflammatory and help relieve inflammation-related pains caused by osteoporosis and arthritis.
Q. Can you eat a fig raw?
A. You can eat them raw. However, ensure you are eating fresh.
Q. Can figs increase weight?
A. No. Instead, figs aid with weight loss. Being highly fibrous fruits, they fill you up, thus preventing you from over-eating.
Q. Why should you soak figs?
A. Soaking dried figs help break down the soluble fibres and delay glucose absorption by the body.
Q. Are figs good for lungs?
A. Figs are good for the lungs as they help clear any obstructions.
Q. Is figs good for arthritis?
A. Figs are anti-inflammatory and thus, bring relief from arthritis-related pains.
Q. What is the nutritional value of figs?
A. Calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, as well as vitamins A, B6, C, and K, are all found in figs. Like most fruits, they are high in fibre.