Figs are a great source of fiber that may help in controlling constipation, managing diabetes, & regulating cholesterol. Its calcium rich content may help improve bone health. Figs or anjeer may have many other health benefits such as reducing blood pressure and improving skin health among others.
What are Figs (Anjeer)?
Figs are a sweet fruit with multiple seeds and soft skin, which can be eaten ripe or dried. Figs are also called nature’s candy because they are high in natural sugar. It is the fruit of the fig tree (Ficus), which is a member of the mulberry family, usually found in Asia. In India, the fruit is called anjeer. Dried figs, like several other dried fruits, are a rich source of phenol antioxidants and nutrients, especially fiber. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that adding dried figs to your regular diet may also help overcome the oxidative stress of consuming high fructose corn syrup in a carbonated soft drink.
Watch Video: 8 Reasons To Eat Figs
Types of Figs
Different varieties of the fruit can have different colors from purple, red, green, and golden yellow. The most popular types of figs include:
- Black mission figs
- Sierra figs
- Calimyrna figs
- Kadota figs
When are Figs in Season?
Fresh figs usually come in late June and last till the start of fall. On the other hand, the dried form of fig is easily available almost everywhere, all year round.
How to Eat Figs?
Figs or anjeer are sweet and soft and their paste is often used as a replacement for sugar. Fig paste is used as a healthier option instead of corn syrup and sucrose. Fig spread can also be incorporated into pies, pudding, cakes, assorted baked goods, and preserves. Organic Turkish figs are considered a healthy snack. It is also made into jams, parfait, sauce, and energy bars.
Serving Size : Nutrient Value Water [g] 79.11 Energy 74 Energy [kJ] 310 Protein [g] 0.75 Total lipid (fat) [g] 0.3 Ash [g] 0.66 Carbohydrate, by difference [g] 19.18 Fiber, total dietary [g] 2.9 Sugars, total including NLEA [g] 16.26 Calcium, Ca [mg] 35 Iron, Fe [mg] 0.37 Magnesium, Mg [mg] 17 Phosphorus, P [mg] 14 Potassium, K [mg] 232 Sodium, Na [mg] 1 Zinc, Zn [mg] 0.15 Copper, Cu [mg] 0.07 Manganese, Mn [mg] 0.13 Selenium, Se [µg] 0.2 Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg] 2 Thiamin [mg] 0.06 Riboflavin [mg] 0.05 Niacin [mg] 0.4 Pantothenic acid [mg] 0.3 Vitamin B-6 [mg] 0.11 Folate, total [µg] 6 Folate, food [µg] 6 Folate, DFE [µg] 6 Choline, total [mg] 4.7 Vitamin A, RAE [µg] 7 Carotene, beta [µg] 85 Vitamin A, IU [IU] 142 Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg] 9 Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg] 0.11 Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg] 4.7 Fatty acids, total saturated [g] 0.06 14:0 [g] 0 16:0 [g] 0.05 18:0 [g] 0.01 Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g] 0.07 18:1 [g] 0.07 Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g] 0.14 18:2 [g] 0.14 Phytosterols [mg] 31 Tryptophan [g] 0.01 Threonine [g] 0.02 Isoleucine [g] 0.02 Leucine [g] 0.03 Lysine [g] 0.03 Methionine [g] 0.01 Cystine [g] 0.01 Phenylalanine [g] 0.02 Tyrosine [g] 0.03 Valine [g] 0.03 Arginine [g] 0.02 Histidine [g] 0.01 Alanine [g] 0.05 Aspartic acid [g] 0.18 Glutamic acid [g] 0.07 Glycine [g] 0.03 Proline [g] 0.05 Serine [g] 0.04 Sources include : USDA
As per USDA data, figs may be a good source of water, energy, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and sugar. They also may contain a high content of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and potassium. They have a good supply of vitamins A, E, and K. Figs might also be a rich source of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect the human body against oxidative stress.
Health Benefits of Figs
Figs have many amazing health benefits. Let us discuss them in detail below.
May Lower Blood Pressure
People usually consume sodium in the form of a salt, but low potassium and high sodium level may lead to hypertension. Figs are high in potassium and low in sodium, so they may become a perfect defense against the effects of hypertension. Reducing your blood pressure can help with relaxation, settle the nerves, and bring some calmness to your day.
May Manage Diabetes
Figs may be a rich source of abscisic acid, which is a phytohormone that can help increase glucose toleration and have several other positive effects on one’s health. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Diabetes, extracts of abscisic acid from figs may have the potential to be developed as an effective solution to reduce postprandial glucose and insulin responses.
May Relieve Constipation
Figs are a good source of fiber and several other nutrients. One of the most helpful benefits of nutritionally-rich figs is its potential to help relieve constipation. A 2011 study published in the Laboratory Animal Research journal tested the effects of fig paste on diet-induced constipation in beagles. The paper concluded that fig paste can be an effective treatment for constipation in these animals, and it may also be used as complementary medicine in humans suffering from chronic constipation. Fig bars may also be recommended when dealing with constipation.
May Treat Piles
If you are suffering from piles, a popular home remedy may be to soak dried figs in water overnight, and have the fruit along with the water in the morning. This has a laxative effect and can help reduce the pressure on the anus, thus helping to soothe the hemorrhoids. According to a report published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal in 2013, they might have been traditionally used for their laxative, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
May Lower Cholesterol Levels
As per a research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, figs may improve the lipid profile and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
Figs contain pectin, a soluble fiber that can stimulate healthy bowel movements. They may have a laxative effect, as mentioned since they are one of the most fiber-dense foods available. When fiber moves through the digestive tract, it can mop up excess clumps of cholesterol and may carry them to the excretory system to be eliminated from the body. According to studies on pectin, it might also be associated with lowering cholesterol levels.
May Reduce the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
An animal study shows evidence that anjeer may reduce inflammatory cytokines during aging. In other words, it may have a beneficial effect on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s for humans.
According to another research published in the Biomed Research International journal, figs may help improve memory-related behavioral declines, thereby might have the potential to reduce Alzheimer’s and oxidative damage due to its powerful antioxidant system. However, further research on this is still undergoing.
May Be Rich in Calcium & Potassium
People that maintain a high-sodium diet may be affected by an increased urinary calcium loss. The high potassium content in figs may help avoid that condition and regulate the content of waste in your urine, according to a study published in the Public Health Nutrition. It might minimize the calcium loss while increasingly eliminating the amount of uric acid and other harmful toxins out of your body.
May Improve Skin Health
According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, figs extract may prove to be effective for skin melanin and transepidermal water loss from the skin. It might also increase skin hydration and sebum content. Figs are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may prevent the damage caused by free radicals. They have a high level of alkanes and therefore, may help regulate the pH of the body. The fruits are also used to treat several skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
May Provide Relief from Venereal Diseases
Figs may have been traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and some other parts of the world as a calming salve for venereal diseases. Ingestion or topical application of these fruits may work towards providing relief from sexually transmitted diseases, although further research needs to be done on the exact range of symptoms and diseases that these fruits positively affect.
Where to Buy?
Almost all fresh figs/anjeer in the United States come from California and they are seasonal. You can buy these sweet and delicious fruits from your local grocer or farmer’s market. Golden California variants are also available online. But you don’t have to wait for the season to enjoy it. The dried variety such as organic Turkish figs and dried black mission figs are available all year long.
Word of Caution: Eating too many of these can cause diarrhea. Furthermore, dried anjeer is high in sugar and can potentially cause tooth decay. Also, some are allergic to figs or certain chemical components within them, and the resulting allergic reactions can be mild to severe. As always, before making a major change in your diet, speak with your doctor.
It is best not to consume this fruit in excess in the first few weeks leading up to surgery because they can occasionally cause bleeding in the digestive tract in sensitive people.