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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What is the Fig fruit and its benefits ?



The fig is believed to be indigenous to Western Asia and to have been distributed by man throughout the Mediterranean area. It has been cultivated for thousands of years, remnants of figs having been found in excavations of Neolithic sites traced to at least 5,000 B.C. As time went on, the fig-growing territory stretched from Afghanistan to southern Germany and the Canary Islands. Pliny was aware of 29 types. Figs were introduced into England some time between 1525 and 1548. It is not clear when the common fig entered China but by 1550 it was reliably reported to be in Chinese gardens. European types were taken to China, Japan, India, South Africa and Australia.


Some people peel the skin back from the stem end to expose the flesh for eating out of-hand. The more fastidious eater holds the fruit by the stem end, cuts the fruit into quarters from the apex, spreads the sections apart and lifts the flesh from the skin with a knife blade, discarding the stem and skin. Commercially, figs are peeled by immersion for 1 minute in boiling lye water or a boiling solution of sodium bicarbonate. In warm, humid climates, figs are generally eaten fresh and raw without peeling, and they are often served with cream and sugar. Peeled or unpeeled, the fruits may be merely stewed or cooked in various ways, as in pies, puddings, cakes, bread or other bakery products, or added to ice cream mix.

Home owners preserve the whole fruits in sugar sirup or prepare them as jam, marmalade, or paste. Fig paste (with added wheat and corn flour, whey, sirup, oils and other ingredients) forms the filling for the well known bakery product, "Fig Newton". The fruits are sometimes candied whole commercially. In Europe; western Asia, northern Africa and California, commercial canning and drying of figs are industries of great importance.
Processed figs are made into pies, pudding, cakes, other bakery products, jams, jellies and preserves. Fig paste is a mixture of figs, wheat and corn flour, whey, syrup, oils, and other ingredients

Dried Figs :
Water (%) ........................................ 23
Calories ............................................ 274
Protein (%) ...................................... 4.3
Fat (%) ............................................. 1.3
Carbohydrates (%) ........................ 69
Crude Fiber (%) .............................. 5.8 (high for fruit)

% of US RDA*

Vitamin A ......................................... 1.6
Thiamin, B1 ...................................... 7.1
Riboflavin, B2 .................................. 6.2
Niacin ................................................ 3.9
Vitamic C .......................................... 0
Calcium ............................................. 15.8
Phosphorus ..................................... 9.6
Iron ................................................... 30
Sodium ............................................. 0.8
Potassium ........................................ 14
In internal use, Fig have been used to fight constipation, bronchitis and because of its edible properties. In external use, latex is applied on warts to get rid of them.

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The health benefits of figs or anjeer include treatment of sexual weakness, constipation, indigestion, piles, diabetes, cough, bronchitis, and asthma. It also helps in gaining weight after illness.

Figs are seasonal fruits that are found in the western parts of Asia. However, dried figs are always available. The figs tree is a member of mulberry family.

Health benefits of figs can be attributed to the presence of minerals and vitamins in them. Figs contain vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium and chlorine.

A few of its health benefits include :
  • Prevent constipation: There are 5 grams of fiber per three-fig serving. So, it helps in healthy bowel function and prevents constipation.
  • Helps to reduce weight: The fiber in figs also helps to reduce weight and is recommended for obese people.
  • Lower cholesterol: Figs contain Pectin, a soluble fiber. When fiber goes through the digestive system, it mops up globes of cholesterol and carries them out of body.
  • Prevent coronary heart disease: Dried figs contain phenol, Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fatty acids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Prevent colon cancer: The presence of fiber helps to mop up and usher out cancer causing substances.
  • Protection against post-menopausal breast cancer: Fiber content in figs give protection against breast cancer.
  • Good for diabetic patients: The American Diabetes Association recommends figs for a high fiber treat. Fig leaves reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetic patients who have to take insulin injection. Fig is rich in Potassium. Potassium helps to control blood sugar. Fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties
  • Prevention of hypertension: People used to take more sodium in the form of salt. Low potassium and high sodium level may lead to hypertension. Figs are high in potassium but low in sodium. So, it helps to avoid hypertension.
  • Strengthens bones: Figs are rich in Calcium. Calcium helps to strengthen bones.
  • People having high calcium diet may be affected by increased urinary calcium loss. Potassium content in figs helps to avoid that.
  • Prevent macular degeneration: Vision loss in older people is due to macular degeneration. Fruits and figs generally are good for avoiding this condition.
  • Relief for throat: The high mucilage content in figs, helps to heal and protect sore throats.


Figs are quite useful in various respiratory disorders including whooping cough and asthma. Since they are also good for digestion, they help in treating constipation, indigestion, stomach ache, etc. Fig is also good for fever, earache, boils, abscesses, venereal diseases and is excellent for the liver. Fig is a highly alkaline food, therefore helps to regulate the pH of the body. Figs are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols. These are antioxidants, which prevent the damage caused by free radicals. Fig is known for its soothing and laxative properties. Figs are low in fat and sugar.

Figs are sweet and soft and their paste is used as a replacement for sugar. Processed figs are used to make pies, pudding, cakes, other bakery products, jam, jellies and preserves.

Precaution :

Taking too much fig can cause diarrhea. Dried figs are high in sugar and might cause tooth decay.



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