You can enjoy dried figs all year round, and also enjoy their many health benefits, thanks to their uniquely dense nutritional composition.
What are Dried Figs?
Dried figs are the dried forms of the fig fruit, which grows on the fig tree, scientifically known as Ficus carica. While fresh figs are quite popular for their juicy, luscious texture, they are rather delicate fruits and are only available for a short time each year. Fresh figs are only good for 1-2 weeks after they are harvested, and are best consumed within a few days.
Dried figs, on the other hand, can be savored throughout the year. They are also readily available in many parts of the world and have a much longer shelf life than fresh figs. This is a Middle Eastern fruit but is now widely exported to the rest of the world. Dried figs are made by either drying in the sun, or through a dehydration process to remove excess water, leaving behind a fiber-rich, nutrient-dense snack.
Dried Figs Nutrition
Dried figs contain an impressive nutritional range, including high levels of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin K, potassium, iron, and magnesium. In terms of dietary fiber, dried figs have a higher content than any other fruit. A 1/2 cup of these figs, which is about 9 dried fruits, contains just under 200 calories and has almost no fat content. These dried fruits also offer various antioxidants and active ingredients to further boost your health. There are also trace amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, glutamic acid, and linoleic acid.
Dried Figs Benefits
With a good amount of vitamin E, vitamin C, and calcium, these dried fruits can give your skin a much-needed boost. These active ingredients can work as antioxidants to clear out free radicals and prevent them from causing oxidative stress, which leads to wrinkles, age spots, and other blemishes. It can also improve skin elasticity, to keep you looking younger for longer.
There is a diverse range of minerals found in these dried fruits, which can be good news for those looking to protect their bone density. As you age, your body pulls minerals from the bones, resulting in weak joints and increasing your risk of osteoporosis; fruits like this can slow down that process.
With a significant amount of potassium, these dried fruits are excellent for lowering blood pressure. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can reduce the strain on blood vessels and arteries, thus protecting your cardiovascular system from heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis, while also lowering your risk for coronary heart disease.
Vitamin C is a key component of any immune system, as it can stimulate the production of white blood cells and strengthen your defenses against various infections and foreign pathogens. The other antioxidants in these fruits can further reduce the workload on your immune system.
Chronic disease and inflammation are serious issues that many people face, but by increasing the number of minerals and vitamins, particularly antioxidants, you can reduce oxidative stress in your system and prevent things like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
The significant level of fiber in these dried fruits help to increase feelings of fullness, thus preventing overeating or unnecessary snacking; that being said, the high calorie and sugar level should be noted, and this fruit should only be eaten in moderation.
While the fiber content of these fruits is able to regulate the release of glucose and insulin in the body, the high concentration of natural sugars must be considered, particularly if you are diabetic.
Dietary fiber has been proven to scrape excess cholesterol from the cardiovascular system, thus protecting against heart disease and the buildup of plaque.