Benefits of Figs
Figs are the fruit of the ficus tree, which is part of the mulberry family (Moraceae). Figs have a unique, sweet taste, soft and chewy texture andare littered with slightly crunchy, edible seeds. Fresh figs are delicate and perishable, so are often dried to preserve. This produces a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed all year round. There are multiple different varieties of fig, all of which vary widely in colour and texture. Their unique feature is a little budlike opening called an ostiole at the top that helps the fruit develop. Their natural sweetness meant that, before the days of refined sugars, they were often used as a sweetener.
Figs are not only the main ingredient in a very popular cookie, the fig bar, but are a culinary delicacy par excellence. Part of the wonder of the fig comes from its unique taste and texture. Figs are lusciously sweet and feature a complex texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. In addition, since fresh figs are so delicate and perishable, some of their mystique comes from their relative rarity. Because of this, the majority of figs are dried, either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process, creating a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit.
4. What Is a Fig
A fig is the fruit of a species of ficus tree. There are over 600 different types of figs, bred for different colors, flavors and uses. Figs mayhave beenone of the first plants to be cultivated and were raised in orchards in the middle east. They are still a traditional part of meals around that area.Figs can be eaten whole and raw, including the seeds and the skin, and have a sweet, mild flavor. Some cultivars have a brilliant coloring and are used decoratively in desserts.
5. Help Lower High Blood Pressure
Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Since many people not only do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but do consume high amounts of sodium as salt is frequently added to processed foods, they may be deficient in potassium. Low intake of potassiumrich foods, especially when coupled with a high intake of sodium, can lead to hypertension. In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study, one group ate servings of fruits and vegetables in place of snacks and sweets, and also ate lowfat dairy food. This diet delivered more potassium, magnesium and calcium.
6. A Sweet Way to Lose Weight
Figs are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber and fiberrich foods may have a positive effect on weight management. In one study, women who increased their fiber intake with supplements significantly decreased their energy intake, yet their hunger and satiety scores did not change. Figs, like other high fiber foods, may be helpful in a weight management program.
7. Fruit and Cereal Fiber Protective against Postmenopausal Breast Cancer
Results of a prospective study involving 51,823 postmenopausal women for an average of 8.3 years showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk for those consuming the most fruit fiber compared to those consuming the least. In addition, in the subgroup of women who had ever used hormone replacement, those consuming the most fiber, especially cereal fiber, had a 50% reduction in their risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming the least. Fruits richest in fiber include apples, dates, figs, pears and prunes. When choosing a high fiber cereal, look for whole grain cereals as they supply the most bran (a mere 1/3rd cup of bran contains about 14 grams of fiber).
8. An InsulinLowering Leaf in Diabetes
The leaves of the fig tree as one of figs edible parts. But in some cultures, fig leaves are a common part of the menu, and for good reason. The leaves of the fig have repeatedly been shown to have antidiabetic properties and can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by persons with diabetes who require insulin injections. In one study, a liquid extract made from fig leaves was simply added to the breakfast of insulindependent diabetic subjects in order to produce this insulinlowering effect.
9. Cardiovascular Effects
Fig leaves have been shown to lower levels of triglycerides (a form in which fats circulate in the bloodstream), while in in vitro studies, fig leaves inhibited the growth of certain types of cancer cells. Researchers have not yet determined exactly which substances in fig leaves are responsible for these remarkable healing effects.
10. Dried Figs and Sulfites
Commercially grown dried figs may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing. They may also be treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life. Sulfurcontaining compounds are often added to dried foods like figs as preservatives to help prevent oxidation and bleaching of colors. The sulfites used to help preserve dried figs cause adverse reactions in an estimated one out of every 100 people, who turn out to be sulfite sensitive.
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