Often mentioned in the Holy Bible as a sign of peace and prosperity, the fig tree which is a member of the mulberry family usually found in Asia is an ancient heritage. Lots of people might be wondering ‘what is wild fig’? I can bet you that you might have seen the tree countless times but didn’t know that it is the wild fig tree; and it is edible. Most of the tress are small at 10-30 feet and thrive in warm, dry climates pollinated by a tiny wasp. Fig trees never blossom because the flowers are on the inside, producing dozens and sometimes hundreds of miniscule seeds that give figs their unique, crunchy texture. The dried form of fig is available almost everywhere, all year round.
The health benefits of figs come from the presence of minerals, vitamins, and fiber contained in the fruits. They contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium, and chlorine. Figs are high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium (which promotes bone density), copper, and potassium (which helps lower blood pressure), as well as vitamins K and B6. Besides being ideal for long storage, the nutritional values of figs increase when they are dried. A half-cup of fresh figs, for instance, provides as much calcium as one-half cup of milk, but a single dried fig contains almost as much calcium as an egg. Whether fresh or dried, figs contain powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in your body and fight disease.
In some cultures, fig leaves are nearly as important as the fruit, not just because of what they add to Mediterranean-style cuisine, but because of the unique health-related benefits they offer. This includes their ability to regulate blood sugar levels, since research has shown they contain properties that can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetics.
Health Benefits of Figs
Figs have many amazing health benefits. Below are the health benefits.
There are 5 grams of fiber in every three-fig serving. That high concentration of fiber helps to promote healthy, regular bowel function and prevents constipation. Fiber works to add bulk and mass to the bowel movements, so it not only prevents constipation but also eliminates diarrhea and unhealthy or irregular bowel movements.
Being fat or obese can serve as a detriment to one’s health that is why it is always advised to eat lots of fruits and vegetable. The fiber in figs helps to reduce weight and is often recommended for obese people. However, their high-calorie count can also result in weight gain, especially when consumed with milk. A few figs are enough to get the recommended amount of nutrients, so don’t overeat it.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Figs contain pectin, which is a soluble fiber. When fiber moves through the digestive tract, it mops up excess clumps of cholesterol and carries them to the excretory system to be eliminated from the body. As a soluble fiber, pectin from figs also stimulates healthy bowel movements. They can have a laxative effect, as they are one of the most fiber-dense foods available. High amounts of fiber in your diet can benefit your overall health by preventing certain types of abdominal as well as colon cancer.
Prevent Coronary Heart Diseases
Dried figs contain phenol, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases. Furthermore, fig leaves have an inhibitory effect on triglycerides, making their overall number drop. Triglycerides are another major factor behind various heart diseases.
Prevent Breast Cancer
The fiber content in figs has been known to protect against cancer. After menopause, the hormonal balance in women can often fluctuate. The body’s systems are so interconnected that these hormones affect the immune system, which in turn affect the ability of antioxidants to
fight free radicals. Free radicals are prime factors behind the development of cancer, so figs take care of one extra line of defense by providing fiber to the body.
The American Diabetes Association recommends figs as a high-fiber treat that helps to promote functional control of diabetes. Fig leaves reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetic patients who have to regularly take insulin injections. They are rich in potassium, which helps to regulate the amount of sugar absorbed by the body after meals. Large amounts of potassium can ensure that blood sugar spikes and falls are less frequent, so figs can help diabetics live a normal life.
People usually consume sodium in the form of salt, but low potassium and high sodium level may lead to hypertension. Figs are high in potassium and low in sodium, so they are a perfect defense against the effects of hypertension. This makes them a relaxing food as well, one that can settle the nerves and bring some calmness to your day.
The natural chemicals in fig leaves make them an ideal component for a tea base. Fig leaf tea has been popularly prescribed for various respiratory conditions like bronchitis and is also used as a way to prevent and lessen the symptoms of asthma.
Treat Sexual Dysfunction
For centuries, figs have been recommended as a way to reduce sexual dysfunction like sterility, endurance or erectile dysfunction. They have been a major part of mythology and culture, and most of the times are referred as a powerful fertility or sexual supplement. Their actual success as an aphrodisiac is questionable, but the huge amount of valuable vitamins and minerals is probably the reason in the sudden boost in energy and stamina that people mistake for a sexual surge. Soak 2-3 figs in milk overnight and eat them in the morning to enhance your sexual abilities.
Figs are rich in calcium, which is one of the most important components in strengthening bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. They are also rich in phosphorus, which encourages the bone formation and spurs regrowth if there is any damage or degradation to bones.
Relieve Throat Pain
The high mucilage content in figs helps to heal and protect sore throats. The soothing nature of figs and their natural juices can relieve pain and stress on the vocal chords.
Word of Caution: Eating too many figs can cause diarrhea. Furthermore, dried figs are high in sugar and can potentially cause tooth decay. Also, there are those who 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. Finally, it is best not to consume too many figs in the first few weeks leading up to a surgery, because they can occasionally cause bleeding in the digestive tract in sensitive people.
By Pupwaya Timothy Dibal