Not only are the health benefits of figs a fabulous source of fibre and a significant source of potassium but they also have some great healing powers that can help lower high blood pressure, relieve constipation, control cholesterol and prevent colon cancer. Figs also have some hard-to-come-by vitamin B6
Fibre is so good for many things because fibre builds heavier stools. It helps eliminate waste quickly and efficiently, which studies show helps prevent constipation and colon cancer. Getting more fibre in your diet also helps lower cholesterol and thus the risk of heart disease. Figs are an excellent source of fibre.
Three figs, dried or fresh, provide about 5 grams of fibre, 20 per cent of the Daily Value. That 5 grams can go a long way. As we get older (men that is), those of us who eat the most fibre have half the risk of having a heart attack as other guys who get the least. Plus if we who add just 10 grams of fibre a day to our diets we could potentially drop our risk of heart disease by almost 30 per cent. That in itself is something to think about.
And if you are a little overweight, which is another risk for heart disease, figs are particularly good for you. Because figs are so high in fibre, they stay in the stomach longer, helping you to eat less. And they are sweet, so they satisfy those sweet cravings too. A double plus.
Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that's crucial for controlling blood pressure. Studies have shown that if you eat plenty of potassium-rich foods, not only will you have lower blood pressures but you'll also have less risk of related conditions like stroke.
Potassium helps pull down high blood pressure in so many ways. For one thing, it helps prevent dangerous low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from building up on artery walls. Plus it helps remove excess sodium from inside cells, keeping your body's fluid levels in balance and blood pressure in check. Three fresh figs contain about 350 milligrams of potassium, 10 per cent of the D.V. Dried figs are even better, with three figs providing about 400 milligrams, 11 per cent of the D.V.
Finally, figs can also add some vitamin B6 to your diet. While most of us get plenty of vitamin B6, if you are an older person, you might not absorb it as efficiently as you once did. And since taking certain medications can also interfere with getting enough, so getting extra amounts can be essential. Three fresh figs contain 0.18 milligrams of B6, 9 per cent of the Daily Value. On a lighter note, don't concern yourself too much about all this milligram data, just eat a few figs whenever you can and reap the benefits. After all, there's only so much fruit you can eat on a daily balance to get all the right nutrients we need.
Dealing with the whole fruit, which is squat, bulbous, and thoroughly wrinkled can be a bit confusing. But figs, both fresh and dried, are extremely easy to work with and here's how:
Shop for texture. Figs, whether fresh or dried should be firm but still, yield slightly to the touch. If dried figs are rock hard, don't buy them. If fresh figs seem mushy, they probably too old and you should pass them by. Conversely, hard fresh figs aren't ripe enough and won't deliver full flavour.
Eat them fast. Fresh figs go bad very quickly, usually within a week after leaving the tree. So don't buy more than you plan to eat within a few days. They'll stay fresh for about three days when stored in the refrigerator. Dried figs, by contrast, will keep for months when stored in the refrigerator in an airtight bag.
Control the stickiness. Because figs are extremely sticky, they can be difficult to cut. Chilling the figs for an hour before cutting will help prevent them from sticking to your knife or scissors. Or you can run the blade under some hot water when it starts getting sticky.
Did you know that figs were Cleopatra's favourite fruit?
Did you also know that Assyrians used figs as sweeteners as far back as 3000 B.C.?
Some historians believe that figs, not apples, were the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden, a debate that may never be resolved. Seems that there's still a lot more we can learn from this humble fruit.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.