Figs are sweet and particular fruits that not everyone likes but, given their therapeutic properties supported by scientific studies, even the undecided may decide to consume them. Let’s see what their health benefits are
The figs, fruits with laxative properties, are the product of the plant Ficus carica, which belongs to the Moraceae family. The plant has very ancient origins which place it in the Middle East.
It can reach a considerable height of 8 meters and is divided into two main types: one produces the fioroni figs which ripen at the beginning of spring or, at most, at the end of summer. The other produces the so-called normal figs which instead ripen at the end of summer.
- Chemical Composition
- Eyes and Skin
- Blood Pressure
- Dried Fig
The figs have many varieties, more than 150 that stand out, as well as the size for the colors. The fruits can be green, brown, purple and black. The most popular and marketed varieties are the green and black ones.
|Chemical composition for 100 gr of figs|
Source: USDA Database
Amino acids are: aspartic and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
100 grams of fresh figs provide 74 kcal unlike dried ones that reach 280 kcal.
They owned antibacterial and anti fungal natural. A 2013 study suggests that the fig’s extract is able to counteract the oral bacteria, some fungi and microbes. ( 1 )
Other animal studies suggest that these fruits have the ability to stimulate the body’s immune response. This would explain why figs are effective in combating the most common diseases that are still caused by bacteria and pathogens. ( 2 )
Bone and Teeth Benefits
The discrete presence of vitamin A, in combination with potassium, iron and calcium, appears to have beneficial and strengthening properties against bones and teeth.
Eyes and Skin
Even eyesight and skin are able to benefit from the aforementioned substances. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology claims that eating 3 servings of fruit a day can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 36%.
The fig leaves contain bioactive compounds that counteract the activity of free radicals. Recent studies confirm that the leaves have photo toxic properties against some skin cancers. The compounds responsible for these benefits are believed to be coumarins, fatty acids and bioactive compounds. ( 3 )
There are several studies that demonstrate the anti-wrinkle properties of the leaf extract. The results of these researches showed that those who use fig leaf extract based products had a reduction in the length and depth of wrinkles. ( 4 )
Leaf extract creams could also be used to treat acne, hyper pigmentation and even freckles. These properties are supported by a 2014 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. ( 5 )
Another known property of figs is laxative. This is mainly due to the presence of fiber and mucilage in figs.
They have a high content of easily assimilated sugars. For this reason they represent a source of energy readily usable by our body. According to a 2011 study, the carbohydrates present in the fruit also contribute to increasing the body’s energy levels. ( 6 )
The decoction of dried figs has a soothing action against coughing attacks. The fig also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is in fact used as a compress on abscesses and boils. It also has beneficial effects on inflammation of the urinary and circulatory systems.
Adjusts the Pressure
The good potassium content makes it a food with properties useful for controlling blood pressure. It counteracts the effects of the large amount of salt that we eat daily by eating processed food on an industrial level. Remember that a high consumption of sodium, combined with a low potassium intake, can lead to hypertension.
Several studies suggest that regular consumption of these fruits is helpful in lowering blood pressure. The fiber present in the pulp helps to reduce the pressure while the potassium keeps it regular. This is what emerged from research by the California Department of Public Health’s. ( 7, 8 )
In addition to potassium, according to other studies, also the omega-3 and omega-6 are useful to adjust the blood pressure.
In Italy we are not used to thinking of fig leaves as something edible. In some parts of the world, however, the leaves are regularly consumed. In fact, it has been repeatedly shown that fig leaves have useful properties for people suffering from diabetes. The leaves have a particular property. They are able to reduce the amount of insulin required in people who need injections of this substance.
Preliminary studies on rats show that the leaf extract of figs reduces glucose levels in the blood of rats. Further studies show that leaf extract can reduce LDL cholesterol and combat oxidative stress caused by diabetes. ( 9, 10 )
Other studies suggest that figs have properties useful in treating the side effects of diabetes. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these fruits normalize many bodily functions damaged by diabetes. ( 11 )
They also have useful properties to treat acne. In this regard, a puree obtained with fresh figs can be applied to the face and left to dry for about 20 minutes.
A study also found that fig latex has anti wart activity. ( 12)
In popular tradition these fruits are known as a remedy for many health problems, including tumors. ( 13 )
A 2015 study suggests that some compounds found in the fruit are toxic to cells from different types of human cancer. ( 14 )
A study involving more than 50.000 post-menopausal women showed that those who had a diet higher in dietary fiber reduced the chance of developing breast cancer by 34%. Some fruits rich in dietary fiber besides fig are dates, plums and pears.
The presence of dietary fiber helps the body to counteract the activity of free radicals and other carcinogenic substances. In practice, by binding in the intestine to harmful substances, the fiber facilitates their expulsion.
Authoritative sources claim that regular consumption of these summer fruits is useful for preventing colon cancer. In addition to the fiber there are also the numerous seeds present in the pulp that collect the harmful substances in the colon and promote their expulsion. ( 15 )
Their regular consumption helps to reduce the levels of triglycerides in the blood, fat particles that are often the cause of heart disease. You can deepen this topic by consulting this study in English. ( 16 )
They contain Omega 3 and Omega 6. These fatty acids are able to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Its leaves also contain compounds capable of reducing triglycerides for the benefit of heart health.
Thanks to the content of pectin, a type of soluble fiber, figs help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. According to the studies, in fact, the fiber binds to excess cholesterol from the digestive system and facilitates its expulsion through the feces. ( 17 )
Their consumption brings benefits to the liver by purifying it. A 2011 study in mice showed the protective properties that leaf extract has on the liver. This result paved the way for future application on humans. ( 18 )
They are rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids. Their properties contrast with those of free radicals.
For many years they have been recommended for the treatment of sexual dysfunctions such as infertility and erectile dysfunction. To obtain these benefits, popular tradition reports that some figs should be soaked in milk for one night and consumed the following morning.
Iron deficiency in the body is known to cause anemia. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin. A study found that consuming dried figs improves hemoglobin levels in the blood. ( 19 )
The dried figs are obtained from harvesting of the fruit when it reaches full maturity and its consequent drying in the sun. This is followed by a chemical treatment of disinfestation from possible parasites. In order for the fig to reach an optimal degree of drying, it is necessary that it lose about 35% of the water contained in it.
In Italy the varieties of figs most used to obtain dried figs are: Brogiotto, Dottato, Will make.
The fig is a fruit particularly sensitive so you need to be careful when, not wanting to eat right away, you want to keep it. In the refrigerator they can be stored for a maximum of 3 days.
However, it is good to put them in some closed container to avoid the absorption of odors from other foods in the refrigerator.
The dried figs instead can be stored longer. The only attention is to keep them in a place not accessible to insects. In fact, these could be attracted by the presence of sugars.
The figs are one of the few fruits contain oxalates , substances found in plants. When these compounds become too concentrated in body fluids they can give rise to kidney stones or gallbladder problems. For this reason, those who are already affected by these diseases should refrain from consuming figs.
Even those who have to undergo surgery are better off not consuming too many figs in the two weeks preceding the operation. In sensitive people they can cause bleeding from the digestive tract. However, it is better to always consult a doctor in these cases.
To underline that the fig is not a real fruit but a receptacle of the plant. The grains contained inside represent the real fruits.
According to popular medicine, the latex contained in the leaves is an excellent remedy for the treatment and elimination of warts.
In its long history this fruit has been used to treat a wide range of ailments. Scientific research has shown that these fruits are useful for treating anemia, cancer, diabetes, for liver diseases, ulcers and infections of the urinary tract. ( 20 )
In the Bible it is reported that Adam and Eve, to cover their nakedness because of the shame of sin, detached some leaves from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The tree is that of the fig tree.
It is said that Plato, being a great admirer of the fruits , was given the name of ” fig eater “. In addition, he argued that eating figs helped increase intelligence.
Even Pliny had shown sensitivity to the virtues of these fruits. In fact, he used to say that eating them increased the strength of young people and maintained the health of the elderly.
Maybe Not Everyone Knows That
Research carried out at the University of Innsbruck in Austria has shown that figs reach the highest amount of antioxidants when fully ripe.
The vegetable fiber contained in figs is called lignin. It is very useful for fighting intestinal problems.
The trees of the wild variety can live up to 100 years and can reach 30 meters in height.
In the past, the latex present in fig leaves was used to curdle milk and for the production of various cheeses.
According to an ancient legend, the wolf that fed Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, rested under a fig tree. In the following centuries the fig tree in ancient Rome was considered a sacred fruit.
Figs: Properties and Benefits
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