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 savoured 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 fibre-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 fibre, 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
The most important health benefits of dried figs include its ability to strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, optimize digestion, aid in weight loss, and regulate diabetic symptoms, among others.
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.
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.93|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||63.87|
|Fibre, total dietary [g]||9.8|
|Sugars, total including NLEA [g]||47.92|
|Glucose (dextrose) [g]||24.79|
With their honey-like sweetness and unique texture, figs are a delicious choice. This savoury fruit belongs to the mulberry family. Whether you prefer it fresh or dried, you’ll get a lot of fibres, vitamins and antioxidants in one small serving. Younger-looking skin, luscious hair and better digestion are just a few of the many benefits of figs
Fresh vs. Dried Figs
Fresh or dried, figs are a powerhouse of nutrition. These naturally sweet fruits boast large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and fibre. They’re also packed with quercetin, kaempferol, epicatechin gallate and other powerful antioxidants. Despite their high sugar content, they support health and may even aid in weight loss.
This superfood comes in different varieties, colours and sizes. Kadota figs, Sierra figs and black mission figs are among the most popular. Dried figs contain less water, so they’re more concentrated in calories, sugar and nutrients. One cup, which has about 149 grams, provides:
- 371 calories
- 95.2 grams of carbs
- 71.4 grams of sugars
- 14.6 grams of fibre
- 4.9 grams of protein
- 1.4 grams of fat
- 24 percent of the daily value (DV) of calcium
- 38 percent of the DV of manganese
- 29 percent of the DV of potassium
- 25 percent of the DV of magnesium
- 29 percent of the DV of vitamin K
- 3 percent of the DV of vitamin C
The same amount of fresh figs has approximately 111 calories, 1.2 grams of protein, 0.3 gram of fat and 28.8 grams of carbs, including 24.3 grams of sugars and 4.2 grams of fibre. They’re lower in vitamins and minerals than dried figs, but they also boast fewer calories. When it comes to dates vs. figs, the latter are lower in calories and carbs. One cup of dates contains 415 calories and 110.2 grams of carbs, including 93.1 grams of sugars, which is a lot more compared to dried figs.
Discover the Benefits of Figs
These delicious fruits nourish your body from the inside out. Rich in vitamins and minerals, dried figs can help prevent nutrient deficiencies, strengthen your bones and make weight loss easier. They’re chock-full of antioxidants that slow down aging and scavenge free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
If you’re struggling with constipation, look no further. Due to their high fibre content, these fruits will keep you regular and relieve abdominal discomfort.
Read more: Constipation and Figs
Your immune system will become stronger, too. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Fish & Shellfish Immunology, figs contain plant-based compounds that stimulate the immune response and regulate certain genes involved in immune function.
Eat Figs for Bone Health
One cup of dried figs delivers nearly a quarter of the recommended daily calcium intake. This mineral protects against bone loss and osteoporosis when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
A 2018 review published in Sains Malaysian a indicates a strong link between fig consumption and bone health. According to researchers, the mineral content of this fruit closely resembles that of human milk.
Several studies cited in this review suggest that figs may help prevent osteoporosis due to their high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. These nutrients support bone growth and maintenance. Calcium and potassium may help slow down bone thinning and reduce urinary calcium loss. Furthermore, figs exhibit antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic and hepatoprotective effects.
Dried Figs Promote Weight Loss
When consumed in moderation, these fruits may aid in weight loss and make clean eating easier. The fibre in dried figs increases satiety and curbs hunger, which in turn, helps reduce total food intake. As Harvard Health Publishing points out, high-fibre diets not only improve weight control but may also protect against heart disease and diabetes.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism has found a positive association between low fibre intake and a high body mass index. Scientists suggest that eating more fibre may improve overall health and reduce body weight.
Additionally, dried figs are naturally sweet and contain no added sugars. Therefore, they’re a healthier alternative to cookies, milk chocolate, cake and other processed foods. If you’re trying to slim down, add some figs to baked goods, waffles, pancakes and smoothies instead of sugar. Eat these fruits after exercise to replenish your glycogen stores and help your muscles recover from training.
Achieve Healthier Skin and Hair
Beauty starts from the inside out. Your diet has a direct impact on the appearance of your hair, skin and nails. Dried figs are loaded with antioxidants and other micronutrients that promote skin health and strengthen your hair.
Read more: 10 Recipes for Glowing, Healthy Skin
According to the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, these fruits boast antioxidant and antibacterial properties. They are an excellent source of gallic acid, catechins, saponins and other phenolic compounds that protect against oxidative damage, a major contributing factor to aging and chronic diseases.
These findings indicate that figs may protect your skin from oxidative stress and slow the aging process. With their antimicrobial properties, they may help prevent bacterial skin infections and strengthen your natural defences. Zinc and iron, two key nutrients in figs, promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Figs May Improve Your Memory
The health benefits of figs are largely due to their high antioxidant levels. A 2014 study featured in BioMed Research International shows that Omani figs may improve memory and reduce oxidative damage to the brain. The antioxidants in these fruits may delay plaque formation in Alzheimer’s disease and protect against neuronal degeneration.
This study suggests that figs have beneficial effects on the brain and could improve memory-related behavioural deficits. Further research is needed to investigate their role in mental health and the prevention of neurodegenerative ailments. Researchers attribute these benefits to the high levels of flavonoids, quercetin, ferulic acid, anthocyanins and other potent antioxidants in figs.
Fight Diabetes Naturally
Dried figs are quite high in sugar, so they may not seem like the best choice for people with diabetes, and yet the opposite is true. A recent review, which was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2018, indicates that several Ficus species, including the common fig, may reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin response. These fruits are high in vitamin E, sterols, coumarins, tannins and other bioactive compounds with antidiabetic properties.
According to BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, mistletoe fig (Ficus deltoidea) may inhibit drug-induced hyperglycaemia and relieve diabetes complications. Its leaves appear to be particularly beneficial. Also, remember that figs are packed with fibre. This nutrient improves blood sugar control and aids in weight management.
In 2018, the journal Science published a study on the potential benefits of fibre. Scientists found that high-fibre diets promote the growth of gut bacteria responsible for producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These healthy fats regulate inflammation and appetite. A diet rich in fibre can balance the gut flora and increase SCFAs, making diabetes management easier.
Reap the Benefits of Figs
From improved blood sugar control to healthier skin, dried figs have various therapeutic properties. Plus, they taste amazing and can be used in countless recipes. Make your own granola bars, energy bites and other delicious snacks. Swap sugar for figs to boost your nutrient intake.
Read more: 5 Ways to Make Your Own Energy Bars
Have you ever tried figs on toast, fig cheese puffs, roasted figs with walnuts or apple and fig custard? If not, it’s time to add some variety to your diet. These fruits can turn any meal into a gourmet treat and take your recipes to the next level.
Common figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the mulberry family. Originally from Western Asia and the Middle East, they’re now grown in temperate climates around the world.
Figs can be consumed either raw or dried, which affects the nutritional value. Thus, 100 grams of raw figs nutrition contains about: (1) fresh figs
- 74 calories
- 19 grams carbohydrates
- 0.7-gram protein
- 0.3-gram fat
- 3 grams fibre
- 232 milligrams potassium (7 percent DV)
- o.1 milligram manganese (6 percent DV)
- 4.7 micrograms vitamin K (6 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
- 17 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
- 35 milligrams calcium (4 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (4 percent DV)
- 142 IU vitamin A (3 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams vitamin C (3 percent DV)
When dried, the health benefits of figs increase — thus, 100 grams of dried figs nutrition contains about: (2) dried figs
- 249 calories
- 63.9 grams carbohydrates
- 3.3 grams protein
- 0.9-gram fat
- 9.8 grams fibre
- 0.5 milligram manganese (26 percent DV)
- 15.6 micrograms vitamin K (19 percent DV)
- 680 milligrams potassium (19 percent DV)
- 68 milligrams magnesium (17 percent DV)
- 162 milligrams calcium (16 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams copper (14 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams iron (11 percent DV)
- 67 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams thiamine (6 percent DV)
- 0.1 mg riboflavin (5 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligram zinc (4 percent DV)
Health Benefits of Figs Nutrition
Figs nutrition contains many vitamins and minerals that provide health benefits to a number of bodily systems. They’re an easy, healthy snack and can be added to many meals to for another boost of nutrients.
Some of the biggest health benefits of figs nutrition include:
1. Powerful Antioxidant
Figs provide a huge service to the human body with their antioxidant capabilities. Because oxidation affects almost all body systems, the damage it causes has been linked to many major diseases, aging and cancer — as high-antioxidant foods, figs help stave off these conditions. (3)
Some types of figs have more than others, but most are rich in polyphenols, which help combat oxidative stress. (4, 5) These natural health boosters are located in the fruit, leaves, pulp and skin. (6) Studies also show that properly dried figs can be an even better source of phenolic compounds and have increased levels of antioxidant activity than their raw or improperly dried counterparts. (7) This is probably why figs were revered throughout history; easily stored, dried figs could provide incredible health benefits for long voyages and dry climates that prevented access to fresh fruit.
2. Anticancer Properties
Figs have a reputation in traditional medicine as a remedy for many health problems, including as a natural cancer treatment. For instance, a study by the Department of Natural Medicinal Chemistry at China Pharmaceutical University shows that some elements contained in figs are toxic to various human cancer cell lines. (8)
Although there is more research needed, there are recommendations encouraging researchers to find out more about how figs’ bioactive compounds can combat illness because of the success of numerous findings thus far. (9)
3. Treat Common Illnesses
Because of the fig’s long history, it has been used to treat a wide range of common ailments for thousands of years. More than 40 illnesses connected to the digestive, endocrine, reproductive and respiratory systems have been treated with fig fruit, extracts and components of the fig tree.
Studies have shown figs to be a good source of treatment for anaemia, cancer, diabetes, leprosy, liver disease, paralysis, skin diseases, ulcers, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract infections, and more. (10) Figs and the fig tree are considered promising candidates for helping develop new drugs as well, and researchers hope to continue finding new medicinal uses for the plant.
4. Antibacterial and Antifungal Effects
Figs can act as a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent. A review by the Drug and Herbal Research Centre at the University Kebangsaan in Malaysia cited two studies that showed fig extract’s ability to combat a strand of oral bacteria, as well as various fungi and microbes. (11)
There are also studies conducted in grass carp that shows effectiveness in figs’ ability to stimulate immune system response, thus making figs tremendous immune system boosters. (12) This may explain why figs are such great common illness fighters, which are typically the work of bacteria and other invaders.
5. Great Source of Potassium, Fibre and Other Depleted Nutrients
Potassium and fibre are two vital components to a healthy diet that many Westerners simply don’t get enough of. Figs are a high-fibre food whether raw or dried, while they also provide anywhere from 7 percent to 19 percent of your daily potassium intake depending on how they’re prepared — thus, eating figs helps overcome low potassium levels.
Fibre helps aid the digestive system, reduces the risk of heart disease and helps with weight loss by helping you feel full. Potassium is found in every cell in the body and is essential to maintain normal body functions. Dried figs nutrition is also great sources of manganese, magnesium and calcium, all of which also don’t appear in our diets as much as they should. Snacking on figs is a low-calorie way to up your intake of these essential nutrients.
Health Benefits of Fig Leaves
If you are lucky enough to have access to a fig tree, the leaves of the trees are also incredibly valuable to your health, mostly due to their antioxidant abilities. The leaves can be dried and made into teas or extracts, which is very common in areas of the world with substantial fig tree growth.
1. Antidiabetic Effects
Preliminary studies show reduction of glucose in the blood of rats when given an extract made from fig tree leaves. Further results from the the studies show there was also a decline in the levels of cholesterol, as well as help normalizing antioxidant activity to help combat oxidative stress caused by diabetes. (13, 14)
Fig fruit has also been proven as a powerful treatment for the side effects of diabetes. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, figs are able to normalize many bodily functions sometimes damaged by diabetes, making them a potential diabetes natural remedy. (15)
2. Help Treat Skin Cancer
Fig leaves are great providers of bioactive compounds that are great at fighting free radical damage. (16) As a result, some studies have used information about the makeup of the fig leaf to develop better forms of photodynamic therapy to treat certain types of skin cancer. (17)
3. Anti-Wrinkle Capabilities
There have been multiple studies using fig tree leaf extract (combined with other fruits and alone) that have shown successful examples of anti-wrinkle capabilities. Individuals using creams including fig leaf and fig fruit extracts showed significant decrease in length and depth of facial wrinkles, thanks to antioxidant and anti-collagenase activity. (18)
Another study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences even concluded that creams containing fig extract could also be used to help hyper pigmentation, acne and even freckles. (19)
Interesting Facts About Figs
Figs are actually developed from inverted flowers called a syconium. The fig flesh is made from the matured flowers, which bloom inside the skin and are therefore never seen. Wild fig trees can survive up to 100 years and can grow as high as 100 feet.
Fig tree leaves release a pleasant, woodsy-green fragrance. Some people dry the leaves and use them in perfume or in potpourri for their homes. Fig trees produce a natural latex sap that is also used for a number of practical and medicinal purposes.
Figs were so popular among the Greeks that there were even laws made to prevent exportation, and they’re an essential element in the Mediterranean diet, which is one of the healthiest diets in the world. Aside from being an incredible source of dietary fibre, this curious fruit is delicious and filled with a number of essential vitamins and minerals.
Figs have a history as rich as their taste. Dating back as far as 5,000 B.C., the fig is said to be one of the first plants ever cultivated by humans. Archaeological findings in Neolithic villages revealed fossils of figs, predating other known forms of agriculture like wheat and barley. Figs are mentioned often in the Bible, as they were cultivated in many areas of the world where biblical events took place. In fact, some believe that in the story of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit may in fact be a fig instead of an apple. They’re sometimes represented as a sign of peace, abundance and prosperity.
Figs are known for their sweet and juicy flesh, tender skin and crunchy seeds. They’re highly perishable and are commonly dried to preserve them. And unlike many other fruits and vegetables, studies have shown that the health benefits of figs actually increase after drying. They can be prepared in a number of ways and make a great pairing with meats and cheeses.
How to Purchase and Prepare Figs
Figs can be found at most major grocery stores. Prime harvesting is mid-June to mid-October, with ripe figs only lasting seven to 10 days from when they’re picked.
Choose figs that have a rich colour and are tender but not mushy. Once you bring the fruit home, Whole Foods Markets recommends storing figs outside of the container you purchased them in and in a small bowl in the refrigerator. (20) They will only store for a few days before going bad, similar to an avocado.
Drying figs can extend their shelf life and provide healthy snacks on the go. When properly stored, dried figs can last 18 to 24 months.
You can oven-dry figs following these steps: (21)
- Preheat oven to 140 degrees F (or lowest setting with the oven door open).
- Wash figs thoroughly with water. Dry.
- Cut the figs in half from stem to tip.
- Lay figs cut side up on a well-ventilated rack.
- Place figs in the oven, turning occasionally through drying process.
- Let figs dry for 8–24 hours, until the outsides are leathery and no juice can be seen on the inside.
Figs are commonly made into jams and preserves to allow them to keep longer. You can also freeze figs within 12 hours of harvesting to extend their freshness.
There are many fig recipes you can try. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Orange, Fig & Gorgonzola Salad
- Fig and Ricotta Pizza with Thyme and Honey
- Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Blue Cheese and Pecans
Potential Side Effects of Figs
People with skin and allergies to mulberry, natural rubber latex or weeping fig could have potential reactions to fig tree components, such as the fruit and leaves. If you’re harvesting the fruit directly from the tree, it’s best to wear long sleeves and gloves.
People with diabetes should be cautious when consuming or using figs medicinally, as they have effects on glucose levels in the blood. This also goes for those on diabetes medication and insulin, as figs can alter their effectiveness. As always, speak with a doctor before using figs medicinally or as a supplement.
Final Thoughts on Figs Nutrition
- Figs nutrition can be boosted by drying the figs.
- Figs provide powerful antioxidants, help fight cancer, treat common illnesses, contain antibacterial and antifungal properties, and provide potassium, fibre and other depleted nutrients.
- Fig leaves are antidiabetic, help treat skin cancer and have anti-wrinkle capabilities.
- Figs only last seven to 10 days after they’re picked, but you can dry figs to extend their shelf life and boost some of their nutrients.
- Figs make a great addition to many recipes and are also a tremendous, healthy snack.
Figs were first cultivated in Egypt thousands of years ago and have a long culinary history that can be traced back too many ancient populations. In fact, nutrition-rich figs were even mentioned in the Bible and in some other ancient writings too, with many people referring to them as a “holy” food. Fig recipes became more popular across ancient Greece and Rome around the 9th Century B.C. when their uses began spreading. Figs were introduced to the Western Hemisphere during the 16th century, when conquering Spaniards brought them overseas during the voyages.
Figs are a fruit native to the European and Middle Eastern regions that have been a part of traditional diets for thousands of years. Today they are widely available and popular around the world, making an appearance in a wide variety of international cuisines. While they are often found dried, due to their short harvesting season, figs are completely edible when fresh (and delicious too!). On top of this, figs contain some impressive health benefits. This is what makes fig recipes so easy and smart to make!
Note: I recommend using natural sweeteners like raw honey, real maple syrup or organic coconut sugar to get the most nutrients out of these recipes. Also eliminate conventional cow’s milk and use coconut milk, almond milk or organic grass-fed goat milk or cheese, replace table salt with sea salt, and replace canola and vegetable oil with coconut oil, olive oil or ghee. Replace olive oil with avocado oil when cooking at a high temperature.
25 Fantastic Fig Recipes
Figs are often described as having a “velvety”, unique taste. When found fresh, their “flesh” is soft, seedy and sweet, although not overwhelming. What really makes figs so great is their ability to be versatile in many different types of recipes — everything from homemade low-sugar jams to grass-fed beef entrees. Because they last a long time in dried form without spoiling, they are a great kitchen staple to keep on hand that you can use in many ways. Fig recipes are the perfect thing to start experimenting with to spruce up your breakfast, lunch or dinner rotation.
Keep in mind that any recipe calling for peaches, pears, prunes or dates can be substituted successfully with figs. So, don’t hesitate to switch up some of your favourite salad or meat dishes by adding in figs where you normally wouldn’t think to. If you are still unsure of what to do with figs that you’ve recently purchased, take inspiration from the array of fig recipes below.
FIG RECIPES: Breakfast
Oatmeal is a breakfast staple for many reasons: it keeps you full, contains no gluten and is a great vehicle for any topping you like, including figs! Add extra nuts or even organic yogurt to bring some healthy protein and fat to this easy recipe.
This is not your average overly-sugary granola. Quinoa and oats make this breakfast gluten-free and high in protein, especially with the addition of organic Greek yogurt and some nuts.
Photo: Happy Healthy Mama
Oatmeal on the go is just what you get with these oatmeal fig bars. They’re sweet and hearty, which makes them a great option for breakfast … or even as a filling dessert. Don’t worry! There’s no gluten in this crust. These fig bars are completely vegan andgluten-free.
All the nutrition benefits of chia seeds plus potassium-rich figs make this a powerful yet yummy breakfast. Add some sautéed plums or drizzle with Manuka honey for an added boost for your immune system.
Photo: Savoury Lotus
If you’re looking for a way to reduce your sugar intake and up the number of veggies you’re eating in a day, this creamy cashew cardamom fig smoothie offers up a fun and unique way to thicken your sweet drink without using the traditional banana. Aside from the unique thickening agent, this creamy cashew cardamom fig smoothie is sure to be a hit if you’re craving something thick and creamy.
FIG RECIPES: Salads/Sides
Traditional olive tapenade is absolutely delicious, but the addition of fig? It really takes this recipe up a notch and gives it a unique edge. You can serve this spread with crackers or bread for the perfect appetizer — or just eat it as a snack.
Photo: Nirvana Bakery
If you didn’t get enough fig from the fig and olive tapenade mentioned above, you can spread the mixture on these homemade fig walnut rosemary crackers. Otherwise, I enjoy these crackers with goat cheese on top — and even by themselves. Since they last up to a week, you can grab these any time you’re craving a healthy crunch.
Talk about a flavour explosion … This fig and watermelon salad has the distinct flavours of figs, watermelon, feta, mint, basil, balsamic and more. Your taste buds won’t be bored with this recipe — and it’s oh so refreshing.
These goat cheese figs would make a perfect savoury appetizer when you’re having guests over. They appear to be very impressive, yet come together quickly and require only a few basic ingredients. Look for high-quality organic cheese to get the most out of this simple recipe.
If you’re sick of almond butter and are avoiding peanut butter like many people are, this may be the perfect answer to your “butter” question. Making fig apple butter in a slow cooker is a super time saver and allows the recipe to cook itself while you’re out. Use it on top of ancient grain sprouted toast, in a salad dressing or to drizzle on top of plain, organic yogurt.
Photo: The Roasted Root
This seasonal salad would be a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, or with any home-cooked meal on a fall night. The deep colours of both the beets and figs make this salad pretty in presentation, while the earthy taste of the beets balances the sweetness of the figs.
Arugula’s sharp, peppery taste makes a great base for salad dressed with a classic combo of cheese (use goat or sheep’s milk), figs and walnuts. You can even make your own fig vinaigrette from scratch by blending figs after they’ve been soaked overnight, which softens them up so they don’t get stuck in your food processor or blender.
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love roasted Brussels sprouts, even those who say they won’t like them. Figs balance the unique taste of Brussels sprouts in this healthy side dish and give them a pop of sweetness in place of commonly used cranberries.
You know you should be eating your kale, but maybe you haven’t found a way to make a kale salad yet that you really enjoy? Figs come together with avocado and sesame dressing to create a strong-flavoured salad that helps to balance the taste of kale if you aren’t the biggest fan of its slightly bitter flavour.
FIG RECIPES: Main Dishes
The combination of figs, olives and thyme in this recipe give regular roasted chicken an incredible sweet, salty and savoury flavour. Using bone broth in this Paleo meal also gives an extra boost to the nutrient profile.
Making this stuffed turkey entree would be one clever way to use up some Thanksgiving or holiday turkey leftovers. It’s also a good recipe to put into your weeknight dinner rotation because it could easily be doubled in size and the leftovers saved to make great lunch sandwiches the next day.
No one likes to clean up a bunch of dishes after cooking dinner. Luckily, this meal only requires one pan and takes under 30 minutes to cook. What more could you ask for? Just because this dinner option is incredibly easy does not mean it skimps on flavour (because it definitely doesn’t).
Photo: Cotter Crunch
Raw, this nourishing bowl fuels your body with the purest nutrients these fruits and vegetables have to offer. Consuming the maximum amount of nutrients from uncooked foods is one of the biggest reasons people turn to the raw food diet. Tossed in a delicious “green goddess” dressing, this is a tasty way to get your fill of vegetables.
Photo: The Healthy Foodie
Everyone loves pizza, but not everyone likes to have all that wheat, cheese and grease. Change up your usual pizza and try something much more upscale, like this fruity pizza, which balances creamy, slightly-sour goat cheese with tasty figs, berries and pears. Just substitute sprouted grain flour and goat or cow kefir for the buttermilk (unless you have raw or grass-fed buttermilk).
Photo: Panning the Globe
The next time you fire up your grill, give these grilled lamb and fig skewers a try. They’re brushed with a mint pepper glaze that gives the meat a unique and refreshing flavour. Paired with the figs, you’re in for a sweet and refreshing meal.
FIG RECIPES: Desserts
You’ll first be drawn to this fig cheesecake because of how beautiful it looks. Then, you’ll be impressed with the flavour. The best part: If you avoid dairy, you can still indulge in this decadent cheesecake because it’s dairy-free. Skip the honey drizzle on top if you want this recipe to be completely vegan.
This easy dessert recipe is the perfect way to get a double-dose of antioxidants in each tasty bite. Use a high percentage cocoa (75 percent and up is great) to get the most from this recipe.
Photo: paleo MG
23. Fig Fudge Balls
If you’ve got kids that love “munchkin” donuts, then this is the dessert for you! These little “energy balls” are filled with much healthier ingredients than the processed, overly sugary kinds you’ll find in coffee shops, so you can feel a lot better about giving them to your children (and having some yourself, too). These would make a great snack to pack with school lunch, or to bring along on car rides when you need some healthy snacks.
Photo: Jay’s Baking Me Crazy
Craving a sweet treat? You can’t get much healthier than this recipe. These Paleo fig bars are sweetened exclusively by figs and unsweetened applesauce. These bars are delicious fresh out of the oven or after cooling. I bet they’re even kid-approved.
While cake is generally something you want to save for special occasions, why not make the best kind of cake that you can when it’s time to celebrate? Chocolate and figs make a great combination, and the figs allow you to use less sugar overall, making this a great alternative to any processed, boxed cake mix.
Description of a FIG
Ficus carica is a gynodioecious, deciduous tree or large shrub that grows up to 7–10 metres (23–33 ft) tall, with smooth white bark. Its fragrant leaves are 12–25 centimetres (4.7–9.8 in) long and 10–18 centimetres (3.9–7.1 in) wide, and are deeply lobed (three or five lobes).
The fig fruit develops as a hollow, fleshy structure called the syconium that is lined internally with numerous unisexual flowers. The tiny flowers bloom inside this cup-like structure. Although commonly called a fruit, the syconium is botanically an infructescence, a type of multiple fruit. The small fig flowers and later small single-seeded (true) fruits line its interior surface. A small opening or ostiole, visible on the middle of the fruit, is a narrow passage that allows the specialized fig wasp, Autophagia pens to enter the inflorescence and pollinate the flowers, after which each fertilized ovule (one per flower, in its ovary) develops into a seed. At maturity, these ‘seeds’ (actually single-seeded fruits) line the inside of each fig. See Ficus: Fig fruit and reproduction system.
The edible mature syconium stem develops into a fleshy false fruit bearing the numerous one-seeded fruits, which are technically droplets. The whole fig fruit is 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin that sometimes ripens toward purple or brown. Ficus carica has milky sap, produced by laticifer cells. The sap of the green parts is an irritant to human skin.[
The common fig tree has been cultivated since ancient times and grows wild in dry and sunny locations with deep and fresh soil, and in rocky locations that are at sea level to 1,700 metres in elevation. It prefers relatively porous and freely draining soil, and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Unlike other fig species, Ficus carica does not always require pollination by a wasp or from another tree, because the fig wasp, Autophagia pens can pollinate it so as to produce seeds. Fig wasps are not present to pollinate in colder nations, e. g. the United Kingdom.
Leaves and immature fruit
Figs in various stages of ripening
The plant tolerates seasonal drought, and the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climates are especially suitable to it. Situated in a favourable habitat, mature specimens can grow to considerable size as large, dense, shade trees. Its aggressive root system precludes its cultivation in many urban locations, yet in nature this characteristic helps the plant to root in the most inhospitable locations. Having a great need of water, it is mostly a phreatophyte that extracts the needed water from sources in or on the ground. Consequently, it frequently grows in locations with standing or running water, e. g. in valleys of rivers and in ravines that collect water. The deeply rooted plant searches for groundwater in aquifers, ravines, or cracks in rocks. With access to this water, the tree cools the hot environments in which it grows, thus producing fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that shelter in its shade during periods of intense heat.
The mountain or rock fig (“Anjeer Kohi”, انجیر کوهی, in Persian) is a wild variety, tolerant of cold dry climates, of the semi-arid rocky montane regions of Iran, especially in the Kohestan Mountains of Khorasan.
From ancient times
“Schiocca”: Calabrese dried figs
Further information: Domestication of Ficus carica
The edible fig is one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans. Nine subfossil figs of a parthenocarpy (and therefore sterile) type dating to about 9400–9200 BCE were found in the early Neolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). The find precedes the domestication of wheat, barley, and legumes, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. It is proposed that this sterile but desirable type was planted and cultivated intentionally, one thousand years before the next crops were domesticated (wheat and rye).
Figs were widespread in ancient Greece, and their cultivation was described by both Aristotle and Theophrastus. Aristotle noted that as in animal sexes, figs have individuals of two kinds, one (the cultivated fig) that bears fruit, and one (the wild caprifig) that assists the other to bear fruit. Further, Aristotle recorded that the fruits of the wild fig contain psenes (fig wasps); these begin life as larvae, and the adult psen splits its “skin” (pupa) and flies out of the fig to find and enter a cultivated fig, saving it from dropping. Theophrastus observed that just as date palms have male and female flowers, and that farmers (from the East) help by scattering “dust” from the male on to the female, and as a male fish releases his milt over the female’s eggs, so Greek farmers tie wild figs to cultivated trees. They do not say directly that figs reproduce sexually, however.
Figs were also a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his c. 160 BCEDe Agri Culture, lists several strains of figs grown at the time he wrote his handbook: the Mariscan, African, Herculaneum, Saguntine, and the black Tellanian (De Agri culture, Ch. 8). The fruits were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras. Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, was reputed to have been poisoned with figs from his garden smeared with poison by his wife Livia. For this reason, or perhaps because of her horticultural expertise, a variety of fig known as the Livian a was cultivated in Roman gardens.
It was cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal, also grown in Pithoragarh in the Kumaon hills of India. From the 15th century onwards, it was grown in areas including Northern Europe and the New World. In the 16th century, Cardinal Reginald Pole introduced fig trees to Lambeth Palace in London.
In 1769, Spanish missionaries led by Junipero Serra brought the first figs to California. The Mission variety, which they cultivated, is still popular. The fact that it is parthenocarpy (self-pollinating) made it an ideal cultivar for introduction.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||310 kJ (74 kcal)|
|Dietary fibre||2.9 g|
|Thiamine (B1)||5% 0.060 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||4% 0.050 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||3% 0.400 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||6% 0.300 mg|
|Vitamin B6||9% 0.113 mg|
|Folate (B9)||2% 6 mg|
|Choline||1% 4.7 mg|
|Vitamin C||2% 2.0 mg|
|Vitamin K||4% 4.7 mg|
|Calcium||4% 35 mg|
|Iron||3% 0.37 mg|
|Magnesium||5% 17 mg|
|Manganese||6% 0.128 mg|
|Phosphorus||2% 14 mg|
|Potassium||5% 242 mg|
|Sodium||0% 1 mg|
|Zinc||2% 0.15 mg|
|Link to USDA Database entry|
|Unitsmg = micrograms • mg = milligramsIU = International units|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The common fig is grown for its edible fruit throughout the temperate world. It is also grown as an ornamental tree, and in the UK the cultivars ‘Brown Turkey’ and ‘Ice Crystal’ (mainly grown for its unusual foliage) have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.
Figs are also grown in Germany, mainly in private gardens inside built up areas. There is no commercial fig growing. The Palatine region in the German South West has an estimated 80,000 fig trees. The variety Brown Turkey is the most widespread in the region. There are about a dozen quite widespread varieties hardy enough to survive winter outdoors mostly without special protection. There are even two local varieties, “Martinsfeige” and “Lussheim”, which may be the hardiest varieties in the region.
Figs can be found in continental climates with hot summers as far north as Hungary and Moravia. Thousands of cultivars, most named, have been developed as human migration brought the fig to many places outside its natural range. Fig plants can be propagated by seed or by vegetative methods. Vegetative propagation is quicker and more reliable, as it does not yield the inedible caprifigs. Seeds germinate readily in moist conditions and grow rapidly once established. For vegetative propagation, shoots with buds can be planted in well-watered soil in the spring or summer, or a branch can be scratched to expose the baste (inner bark) and pinned to the ground to allow roots to develop.
Two crops of figs can be produced each year. The first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year’s shoot growth. The main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in quantity and quality, but some cultivars such as ‘Black Mission’, ‘Croisic’, and ‘Ventura’ produce good breba crops.
There are three types of edible figs:
- Persistent (or common) figs have all female flowers that do not need pollination for fruiting; the fruit can develop through parthenocarpy means. This is a popular horticulture fig for home gardeners. Dottato (Kadota), Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Brunswick, and Celeste are some representative cultivars.
- Caducous (or Smyrna) figs require cross pollination by the fig wasp with pollen from caprifigs for the fruit to mature. If not pollinated the immature fruits drop. Some cultivars are Marabout, Inchàrio, and Zidi.
- Intermediate (or San Pedro) figs set an unpollinated breba crop but need pollination for the later main crop. Examples are Lampeira, King, and San Pedro.
While the fig contains more naturally occurring varieties than any other tree crop, a formal breeding program was not developed until the beginning of the 20th century. Ira Condit, “High Priest of the Fig,” and William Storey tested some thousands of fig seedlings in the early 20th century based at University of California, Riverside. It was then continued at the University of California, Davis. However, the fig breeding program was ultimately closed in the 1980s.
Due to insect and fungal disease pressure in both dried and fresh figs, the breeding program was revived in 1989 by James Doyle and Louise Ferguson using the germplasm established at UC Riverside by Ira Condit and William Storey. Crosses were made and two new varieties are now in production in California: the public variety “Sierra”, and the patented variety “Sequoia”.
|Fig production – 2017|
|Source: United Nations FAOSTAT|
In 2017, world production of raw figs was 1.15 million tonnes, led by Turkey with 26% of the world total, Egypt, and Morocco, as the three largest producers which collectively accounted for 54% of global production.
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well. The widely produced fig roll is a biscuit (cookie) with a filling made from figs.
Fresh figs are in season[where?] from August through to early October. Fresh figs used in cooking should be plump and soft, and without bruising or splits. If they smell sour, the figs have become over-ripe. Slightly under-ripe figs can be kept at room temperature for 1–2 days to ripen before serving. Figs are most flavourful at room temperature.
|Figs, dried, uncooked|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,041 kJ (249 kcal)|
|Dietary fibre||9.8 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||0% 0 mg|
|Thiamine (B1)||7% 0.085 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||7% 0.082 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||4% 0.62 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||9% 0.43 mg|
|Vitamin B6||8% 0.11 mg|
|Folate (B9)||2% 9 mg|
|Vitamin C||1% 1 mg|
|Vitamin E||2% 0.35 mg|
|Vitamin K||15% 15.6 mg|
|Calcium||16% 162 mg|
|Iron||15% 2 mg|
|Magnesium||19% 68 mg|
|Manganese||24% 0.51 mg|
|Phosphorus||10% 67 mg|
|Potassium||14% 680 mg|
|Sodium||1% 10 mg|
|Zinc||6% 0.55 mg|
|Full Link to USDA Database entry|
|Unitsmg = micrograms • mg = milligramsIU = International units|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
In a 100-gram serving providing 229 calories, dried figs are a rich source (more than 20% DV) of dietary fibre and the essential mineral manganese (26% DV), while several other dietary minerals are in moderate-to-low content.
Research and folk medicine
Figs contain diverse phytochemicals under basic research for their potential biological properties, including polyphenols, such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin and rut in. Fig colour may vary between cultivars due to various concentrations of anthocyanins, with cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside having particularly high content.
Like other plant species in the family Morceau, contact with the milky sap of Ficus carica followed by exposure to ultraviolet light can cause Phyto photodermatitis, a potentially serious skin inflammation. Although the plant is not poisonous per se, F. carica is listed in the FDA Database of Poisonous Plants.
Organic chemical compounds called furanocoumarins are known to cause Phyto photodermatitis in humans. The common fig contains significant quantities of two furanocoumarins, psoralen and bergapten. The essential oil of fig leaves contains more than 10% psoralen, the highest concentration of any organic compound isolated from fig leaves. Psoralen appears to be the primary furanocoumarin compound responsible for fig leaf-induced Phyto photodermatitis.
Psoralen and bergapten are found chiefly in the milky sap of the leaves and shoots of F. carica but not the fruits. Neither psoralen nor bergapten were detected in the essential oil of fig fruits. Thus there is no conclusive evidence that fig fruits cause Phyto photodermatitis.
In religion and mythology
In the Biblical Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve clad themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7) after eating the “forbidden fruit” from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Likewise, fig leaves, or depictions of fig leaves, have long been used to cover the genitals of nude figures in painting and sculpture, for example in Masaccio‘s The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Moreover, according to Haggadah (Jewish text), the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was not an apple, but a fig.
The Book of Deuteronomy specifies the fig as one of the Seven Species (Deuteronomy 8:7-8), describing the fertility of the land of Canaan. This is a set of seven plants indigenous to the Middle East that together can provide food all year round. The list is organized by date of harvest, with the fig being fourth due to its main crop ripening during summer.
Babylonian Ishtar for example took the form of the divine fig tree Xikum, the “primeval mother at the central place of the earth”, protectress of the saviour Tammuz. Moreover, fig and the fig tree were closely linked with female sexuality. In Barbara Walker’s encyclopaedia on Goddess symbols we learn that the fig leaf is the conventional form of the yoni. “This may account for the common use of the fig tree as a symbol of man’s enlightenment, which was formerly supposed to come through his connection with the female principle.” The enlightenment that came after eating the forbidden fruit, i.e. fig, may also imply that the knowledge forbidden by the Judeo-Christian God was knowledge of specifically female sexuality, which patriarchal societies have always tried to suppress. The fig tree Ruminalis was worshiped as a symbol of the Goddess herself in the Palatine temple in Rome.
In the Bible (Matthew 21:18–22 and Mark 11:12–14, 19–21) is the account of Jesus finding a fig tree when he was hungry; the tree had leaves on it, but no fruit. Jesus then curses the fig tree, which withers.
The biblical quote “each man under his own vine and fig tree” (Micah 4:4) has been used to denote peace and prosperity. It was commonly quoted to refer to the life that would be led by settlers in the American West, and was used by Theodor Herzl in his depiction of the future Jewish Homeland: “We are a commonwealth. In form it is new, but in purpose very ancient. Our aim is mentioned in the First Book of Kings: ‘Judah and Israel shall dwell securely, each man under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba”. United States President George Washington, writing in 1790 to the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island, extended the metaphor to denote the equality of all Americans regardless of faith.
Sura 95 of the Qur’an is named al-Tin (Arabic for “The Fig”), as it opens with the oath “By the fig and the olive.” The fruit is also mentioned elsewhere in the Qur’an. Within the Hadith, Sahih al-Bukhari records Muhammad stating: “If I had to mention a fruit that descended from paradise, I would say this is it because the paradisiacal fruits do not have pits…eat from these fruits for they prevent haemorrhoids, prevent piles and help gout.”
In Greek mythology, the god Apollo sends a crow to collect water from a stream for him. The crow sees a fig tree and waits for the figs to ripen, tempted by the fruit. He knows that he is late and that his tardiness will be punished, so he gets a snake from the stream and collects the water. He presents Apollo with the water and uses the snake as an excuse. Apollo sees through the crow’s lie and throws the crow, goblet, and snake into the sky where they form the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Corves.
In art and literature
In Aristophanes‘ Lysistrata one of the women boasts about the “curriculum” of initiation rites she went through to become an adult woman (Lys. 641–7). As her final accomplishment before marriage, when she was already a fair girl, she bore the basket as a canephors, wearing a necklace of dried figs.
In the course of his campaign to persuade the Roman Republic to pursue a third Punic War, Cato the Elder produced before the Senate a handful of fresh figs, said to be from Carthage. This showed its proximity to Rome (and hence the threat), and also accused the Senate of weakness and effeminacy: figs were associated with femininity, owing to the appearance of the inside of the fruit.
Since the flower is invisible, there are various idioms related to it in languages around the world. In a Bengali idiom as used in Tumi yēna ḍumurēr phul hay.ē gēlē (তুমি যেন ডুমুরের ফুল হয়ে গেলে), i.e., ‘you have become (invisible like) the fig flower (doomurer phool)’. There is a Hindi idiom related to flower of fig tree, गूलर का फूल (gūlar kā phūl i.e. flower of fig) means something that just would not ever see i.e. rare of the rarest In Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh state of India apart from standard Hindi idiom a variant is also used; in the region it is assumed that if something or work or job contains flower of fig it will not get finished.
Gular ka phool (flower of fig) is a collection of poetry in written in Hindi by Rajiv Kumar Trigarti.
A poem in Telugu written by Yogi Vemana, says “Medi pandu chuda melimayyi undunu, potta vippi chuda purugulundunu”, “The fig fruit looks harmless but once you open you find tiny insects [fig wasps] in there”. The phrase is comparable with the English phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”
Figs are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre with many health benefits. Fresh and dried figs have been traditionally used as a natural medicine to treat many ailments, and scientific research backs up many of the health benefits of figs. You can also make a healthy fig tea from infusing fig leaves in hot water. You can use figs to help relieve constipation, improve digestive health, lower blood pressure, and even manage the symptoms of diabetes.
Fresh figs are a delicious snack that is low in calories and high in nutritional value. The fig skin is also edible but make sure to wash it well if your fig is not organic.
Dried figs are also very healthy and may even have more nutrients than the fresh varieties. It’s not just figs that are very good for men and women. Fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties and fig milk (the sap from the fig plant) has antiviral properties that can help remove warts.
In this article, you will learn about scientific research that proves the many health benefits of eating figs. You will also find out how to use figs to treat and prevent many health conditions.
What are Figs?
The botanical name for figs is Ficus carioca L. and they are also called Anjeer. Figs traditionally grow in the Mediterranean and southwest Asia and have been cultivated for thousands of years. (1)
Figs are sold dried and fresh and both have great nutritional value. People describe the taste of fresh figs as fruity with a melon or honey-like taste. Mature fresh figs are very juicy and may become very sticky. (2)
The benefits of figs are due to their high content of polyphenols – plant-based, naturally occurring antioxidants. Fresh and dried figs are also an important source of phenolic compounds which can help to prevent many chronic diseases. (1)
You just need to be aware, that figs (especially dried figs) are rich in sugar and have a high glycaemic index. Therefore, to enjoy the benefits of figs, it is recommended to eat them along with foods that have low glycaemic index, such as walnuts, almonds or vegetables. Eating them together allows the fig (and the sugar) to be absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream.
Fresh figs are usually available between July and September and you can buy dried figs all year round. (3)
Figs: Nutritional Value
Figs are an important source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
According to nutritionist and dietician Kathleen M. Zelman, figs contain more dietary fibre than any other fresh or dried fruit. One serving of figs (about 3 or 4 figs) can provide you with 20% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of fibre. (3)
Dried figs are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals but have a higher sugar content, more carbohydrates and have much more calories. For example, 100g dried figs contain 48 g sugar, 64 g carbohydrates and 249 calories. The same weight of fresh figs (100 g) has 16 g sugar, 19 g carbs and 74 calories. (4, 5)
Gram for gram, dried figs also contain more vitamins and minerals than fresh figs.
The many health benefits of fresh and dried figs are due to their high levels of antioxidants. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports that “dried fruits have superior quality antioxidants, with figs and dried plums being the best”. The report adds that figs are a good source of phenol antioxidants and nutrients, most notably fibre. (6)
Research has also shown that fig syrup (fig fruit concentrate) contains phenolic compounds and flavonoids. These antioxidants have scavenging properties against free radicals and can protect cells against DNA damage. (7)
Health Benefits of Figs
Let’s look in more detail at the important ways that consuming fresh figs, dried figs, fig milk, or fig leaf tea can benefit your health.
Figs Can Treat Constipation
One of the most common benefits of consuming figs is to improve your digestion and relieve constipation.
The high fibre content of figs makes them a great remedy for digestive problems such as constipation. One randomized, double-blind trial found that fig paste was effective in treating constipation. Patients using fig paste had less abdominal discomfort when passing stool. (8)
Other trials on using figs to treat constipation have found that figs can help increase water content and bulk up stool. This had the effect of shortening the time that stool takes to pass through the digestive system. (9)
Research into the content of dried figs has shown that they are a great source of dietary fibre and also provide good nutritional value. (10)
One excellent way to improve your digestive health is to soak dried figs overnight in some water. In the morning, eat the fruit and drink the fig water to help get rid of constipation and improve your digestion.
Figs Help Regulate Blood Pressure
Regular consumption of fresh or dried figs can help relieve some symptoms of hypertension.
Compounds in figs have an effect on the cardiovascular system that helps to lower blood pressure. One study found that extracts from fig leaves can have an anti-hypertensive effect. Scientists observed that a liquid extract of fig leaves significantly reduces blood pressure in rats. (11) At the end of the article, you will find a recipe for fig leaf tea.
Another reason why figs could help lower blood pressure is that they contain a large amount of potassium. 5 small fresh figs (40 g each) contain about 460 mg potassium. Researchers from Harvard Medical School say that potassium is an essential mineral that lowers blood pressure. (12)
Learn about other natural remedies that help reduce high blood pressure.
Fig Leaf Tea Can Help Manage Diabetes
Regularly drinking tea made from fig leaves can benefit you if you suffer from diabetes. To make fig leaf tea, simply boil fig leaves in water for at least 15 minutes.
Research into fig leaf extracts has found that they contain compounds that help to regulate blood glucose levels. Scientists found that fig extract exerts a hypoglycaemic effect and have a similar effect to insulin. However, the scientists couldn’t identify the reasons why fig leaf extract helps to lower blood glucose levels. (13)
Other studies into the benefit of fig leaf extracts for diabetes have revealed that they can help manage other symptoms of diabetes. For example, fig leaf extracts can help to suppress inflammation and work similar to the drug diclofenac – a popular anti-inflammatory. The study found that fig leaf extracts could prevent vascular complications in diabetes. (14)
The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fresh fruits like figs, blueberries, dates, and apples to lower risks of type 2 diabetes. (15)
You can find out about other foods that help to manage the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Figs Have Antibacterial and Anti-Fungal Activity
The health benefits of figs also extend to having antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
For example, one study found that extracts from fig leaves were powerful enough to kill off certain strains of bacteria. Researchers suggested that fig leaf extract could be used as a natural antibacterial remedy against oral bacteria. (1)
Another benefit of figs is found in therapeutic compounds found in fig milk (fig latex) which is the milky sap from the fig tree. Scientific research has revealed that fig milk (fig latex) has antimicrobial activity against fungal strains like Candida albicans. (16)
Figs Can Help Get Rid of Parasites
One of the benefits of fig extracts is to create antiparasitic remedies from fig latex.
Research published into natural ways of treating parasite infections has found that fig latex (fig milk) can help kill off intestinal parasites. Scientists discovered that compounds in fig milk have an anthelmintic (antiparasitic) effect. Fresh latex from fig plants helped to kill off intestinal whipworms (Trichuris), roundworms (nematodes), and cestodes. (17)
Fig Extracts Can Help Boost Your Liver Health
Figs contain medicinal compounds that can help keep your liver in good health.
The reason that figs are good for your liver is that they contain antioxidants like phenolic compounds. Research has shown that these chemicals have a protective effect on the liver and can protect against oxidative stress. (19)
Other studies have revealed that preparations containing fig leaf extracts help to reduce inflammation and protect cells in the liver from damage. (20)
Figs Help Strengthen Bones
Consuming fresh figs regularly is a great way to help promote bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.
Figs of the dried and fresh varieties contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for bone health. Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, and vitamin A are in figs and are all necessary for healthy bones. (21)
Research published in 2014 reported that dried figs contain many of the necessary micronutrients that can help prevent osteoporosis. For example, figs also contain a compound called Strontium which promotes good bone health and increases bone formation. (22)
In fact, Strontium supplements are sometimes used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis. (22)
Extracts from figs also inhibit certain types of bone cells that can break down bone tissue. Researchers suggest that these types of fig extracts can help prevent conditions affecting bone health like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. (23)
Fig Milk Can Help Get Rid of Warts
The milky sap (latex) of figs contain anti-viral properties, so applying it on warts helps to cure them.
People in the Middle East and Asia have traditionally used the sap from fig trees to remove warts. But can fig milk actually get rid of warts? The journal Case Reports in Internal Medicine reports that fig sap (fig milk) can help eradicate flat warts. Fresh fig tree sap was applied to multiple flat warts. After about 6 weeks, the warts were successfully treated. (24)
Other studies into using fig milk for getting rid of warts say that it is an effective cure with no reports of any side effects. One trial involved 25 patients. Fig tree sap helped to resolve warts in 11 of the patients and 14 patients had their warts frozen (cryotherapy). The study concluded that cryotherapy is only slightly better than fig milk to treat warts. (25)
Some people apply the milky sap of figs directly to the skin to treat cuts and irritated skin.
You can also remove warts using apple cider vinegar (ACV).
Dried Figs Can Help Prevent Anaemia
Dried figs can help to increase haemoglobin levels.
A study concluded that dried figs are useful for improving haemoglobin level in blood and thus preventing a person from having anaemia. (31)
It is recommended for people who suffer from iron deficiency anaemia to add figs to their diet, as figs are good source of iron. Get familiar with these iron deficiency symptoms and how to increase iron levels in your blood.
Fig Extracts May Have Anticancer Properties
Research has shown that certain extracts from the fig plant have anticancer properties.
The Journal of Natural Products reports that extracts from fig resin have inhibitory effects on cancer cells to prevent them from spreading. (27)
Other studies have revealed that fig tree latex (fig milk) can help to inhibit the spread of cancer cells in humans without affecting healthy cells. (28)
Of course, more research has to be carried out on using fig extracts on the treatment of cancer. Doctors recommend enjoying a well-balanced, healthy diet to help reduce your risk of cancer. This includes eating whole grains and plenty of “fruit and vegetables that have cancer-fighting potential.” (29)
Figs for Improving Heart Health
In animal studies, fig leaves have been shown to lower levels of triglycerides. (1)
Figs Can Help Relieve Respiratory Infections
Cook two figs (preferably organic) with half a cup of water for a few minutes, and drink the liquid several times a day.
Side Effects of Figs
Figs are a delicious juicy fruit that can be part of a healthy diet. There are generally no side effects when eating figs in normal food amounts. Doctors say that some people may have a skin allergy to latex from the fig tree sap. (30)
How to Make Fig Leaf Tea
Apart from getting the benefits of figs by eating them fresh or dried, you can create your own fig leaf tea.
If you have access to fresh fig leaves, you can make your own delicious tea from fig leaves this way:
- Wash and chop up one large fig leaf.
- Place a heaped teaspoon of fresh leaves in a cup.
- Pour boiling water over the leaves, cover, and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Strain the fig tea into another cup and add a teaspoon of raw honey to taste.
- Relax and enjoy the benefits of fig leaf tea.
Fig fruit nutrition facts
Delicious, sweet fig fruit is one of the popular fruits enjoyed since ancient times. Fig is rich in natural health benefiting phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. Entirely developed and ripe fig features bell or pear shape with succulent, juicy flesh inside. Dried figs, indeed, are a highly concentrated source of minerals and vitamins.
Botanically figs belong to the mulberry family (Moraceae), in the genus: Ficus. Scientific name: Ficus carica.
The fig tree is native to temperate regions of Asia Minor or Turkey, and today, grown as an important fruit of commerce in the eastern Mediterranean climates, USA, and Spain. It also cultivated as a fruit tree in the home gardens in many other regions as well. During each season, fig bears several hundreds of pear-shaped fruits twice a year, which vary in size and color depending on the variety.
Interiorly, fig fruit features numerous, tiny club-shaped ovaries extending towards the central hollow cavity. In their natural habitat, “caprifigs” pollinated by tiny “gall wasp” (Blastophaga psenes) insect that enters flower clusters through a small opening at the apex.
Several cultivars of fig exist; some of the traditional varieties commonly grown in the USA are Brown Turkey, Conadria, Kadota, and Black mission. However, since the wasp does not exist in the North America, most of these fruits develop by parthenogenesis (without pollination) and therefore, do not possess “true” seeds.
Health benefits of figs
- Fig fruit is low in calories. 100 g fresh fruits carry only 74 calories. However, they contain health benefiting soluble dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins, and pigment antioxidants that contribute immensely towards optimum health and wellness.
- Dried figs are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. In fact, dried figs possess higher concentrations of energy, minerals, and vitamins. 100 g dried figs provide 249 calories.
- Fresh figs, especially black mission, contain polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein, tannins, chlorogenic acid, etc. Their antioxidant value is comparable to that of apples at 3200 umol/100 g (Trolox equivalents).
- Additionally, fresh figs contain adequate levels of some of the anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, E, and K. Altogether these phytochemical compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the human body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases, and infections.
- Furthermore, research studies suggest that chlorogenic acid in the figs help lower blood sugar levels and control blood glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus (adult-onset) condition.
- Fresh, as well as dried figs, contain healthy levels of a B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors for metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Dried figs are excellent sources of minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. 100 g of dried figs contain 680 mg of potassium, 162 mg of calcium, and 2.03 mg of iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation.
Selection and storage
Fresh figs can be available all-around the season; however, they are at their best from May through November. One may find fresh as well as dried figs in the markets. While buying fresh figs, look for uniform, ready ones that are soft, emitting sweet, pleasant aroma.
Avoid very soft, broken, bruised, fungus inflicted fruits. Similarly, unripe green fruits as they are bitter (astringent) and therefore, out of flavour.
Fig fruit perishes rather very quickly and should be eaten while fresh or else should be placed inside the refrigerator where it stays fresh for 2-3 days. Put them in a plastic or zip pouch and store in the friger set with high relative humidity. However, dried figs can stay for 6-8 months.
Preparation and serving tips
|Fig, banana, and apple salad. Photo: Paul Downeye|
Figs must be allowed to ripen completely on the tree itself before picking. They can be enjoyed fresh and after the artificial or sun drying.
To eat fresh fruits, wash them in cold water, mop them dry gently using soft cloth or tissue. One may eat fresh figs whole, or peeled. If taken out from the cold storage, place in a bowl of water to bring them back to normal room temperature which enriches their taste and flavour.
Here are some serving tips:
- Sweet, succulent fig fruit best enjoyed as it is without any addition/seasonings.
- Fresh figs are an excellent addition to salads, in cakes and ice-creams.
- Dried figs can be added to soup, stews and to enrich poultry, venison, lamb meat.
- Dry figs are excellent additions to breakfast cereal, muffins, cakes, sandwiches, pies, and cheesecakes.
- Enjoy marinated figs with raspberry sauce.
Fig leaves and unripe fruits produce white latex, which, when come in contact with the body surface can penetrate into the skin, can cause unpleasant burning sensation. Fig latex contains several compounds like furocoumarins, 5-methoxypsoralen (5-MOP) …etc, which can elicit cell-mediated allergic reactions. If left untreated, it might lead to severe allergic eruptions on the exposed parts.
In some sensitive people, eating fig fruit may also elicit allergic reactions ranging from vomiting, diarrhoea, and itching of skin and mucosa. Therefore, individuals with a history of allergy to figs may be advised to avoid eating them
One of the greatest discoveries upon moving to Northern California was the fig tree in the back yard of my apartment building. I could hardly believe the bounty of fruit this tree gave me that first autumn. Since then, I have set about collecting all the ways of using figs that I can possibly can. Love figs? What do you do with them?
1. Cook figs with oatmeal. Simmered in a pot of oatmeal, both fresh and dried figs turn into jammy fruit pockets.
2. Roast figs with honey. Figs caramelize and become even more richly sweet when roasted. Serve as an appetizer with nuts and cheese or as dessert over ice cream.
3. Make a fig tart. There’s nothing better than a thin slice of fresh fig tart with a spoonful of creme fraiche for dessert. Classy and satisfying.
5. Make fig jam. Spread this over toast, spoon it onto yogurt, or steal a spoonful all by itself.
6. Roast figs with meat. If you’re cooking up a big roast for Sunday dinner, throw a few figs in the pan. They cook slowly in the juices and add a sweet note to the savoury sauce.
7. Add figs to salads. Whole figs halves are great in green salads. I also like to mix chopped figs into warm grain salads.
8. Make fig chutney for cheese platters. Instead of making jam, simmer chopped figs with a few sprigs of thyme and add some caramelized onions for a savoury chutney. Terrific with cheese and crackers.
9. Add figs to muffins, scones, and cookies. Chopped figs can be folded right into the batter for muffins and other baked goods. Or try something different and make these Bakewell Tarts with the whole fig!
10. Make a fig cocktail. Figs make an especially good companion to bourbon, rum, port, and other dark spirits. (Try this Fig Old Fashioned!)
Figs, which are a relative of the mulberry (Morceau), are among the sweetest of fruits and provide a wide array of nutritional and health benefits for the body. Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually an inverted flower, and the seeds are the fruit, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. There are four distinct types of figs: Common Fig, Caprifig, Smyrna, and San Pedro. Some of the many health benefits of fresh figs include: high in fibre, a good source of essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium (which promotes bone density), copper, and potassium (which helps lower blood pressure), a good source of vitamins, especially K and B6.
One of the world’s oldest trees, the fig tree can be traced back to the earliest historical documents and features prominently in the Bible. Figs are native to the Middle East and Mediterranean and were held in such high regard by the Greeks that laws were once created to prevent their export.
Another health benefit of fresh figs is that fig leaves can protect your kidneys. A study on laboratory animals published in the March 2012 issue of the journal “Natural Products Research” found that compounds in fig leaves reduced injury to the kidneys caused by high cholesterol levels. Researchers observed that animals that consumed fig leaf extract showed better kidney function and had lower fat levels in their kidneys compared to their counterparts that did not receive fig leaf extract. Fig leaves can be dried and made into a tea or extract, which, in areas of the world with substantial fig tree growth, is very common.
Figs contain a proteolytic enzyme that is considered as an aid to digestion and is used by the pharmaceutical industry. This proteolytic enzyme, also known as ficin, primarily contained in the stem of the fruit, helps to break down tissue and was for many years the major ingredient in Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. Also, because of its high alkalinity, it has been mentioned as beneficial to persons wishing to quit smoking.
Health Benefits of Fresh Figs – Skincare
Fig leaves provide bioactive compounds that are effective at fighting free radical damage. Some studies have used information about the makeup of the fig leaf to come up with better forms of photodynamic therapy to treat certain types of skin cancer.
Multiple studies using fig tree leaf extract (combined with other fruits and alone) have shown good examples of its anti-wrinkle capabilities. Those using creams that contain fig leaf and/or fig fruit extracts showed measurable decrease in length and depth of facial wrinkles. These results are thought to happen because of the potent antioxidant and anti-collagenase activity of fig leaf.
In a separate study, published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, research indicates that creams containing fig extract could also be used for hyper pigmentation, acne and even freckles.
Amazing Health Benefits of Fresh Figs
- good source of potassium
- good source of dietary fibre
- lowers insulin
- anticancer benefits
- a fruit source of calcium
- promotes bone density
- helps prevent arthritis
- may lower triglycerides
- good source manganese
- fig leaf tea is an effective home remedy for bronchitis & asthma
- dependable laxative
- good for weight management
- helps high blood pressure
- may help prevent dementia
- regulates muscle function
- natural antibacterial and antifungal agents
- high in certain amino acids – leucine, lysine, valine & arginine
- highest overall mineral content of all common fruits
- contains Omega-3 & Omega-6 essential fatty acids
Often considered an aphrodisiac, figs earn their reputation. They are outstanding sources of iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and potassium — minerals required for cardiovascular and muscular health as well as efficient hormone production. Figs also contain flavonoids with powerful antioxidant properties…best of all, they are absolutely delicious!
Fresh Fig Salsa Recipe
Ingredient List – Always use organic ingredients
1 pound firm-ripe figs
2 fresh green onions, sliced crosswise
2 medium tomatoes; peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup peeled & diced mango
2 Tbsp. finely chopped mint
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper – to taste
Wash, stem & dice figs to make 2 cups. Combine with remaining ingredients & chill several hours.
Final Thoughts About Figs
Because fungal and mycotoxin issues are occurring more and more, it’s important to underline the fact that figs have the ability to act as a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent in the body. The Drug and Herbal Research Centre at the University Kembangan in Malaysia provided a review that cited two studies that showed fig extract’s ability to combat a strand of oral bacteria, as well as various fungi and microbes. We would all do well to expand our knowledge about fungus and mycotoxins as well as up our intake of vegetables and fruits that possess antibacterial and antifungal properties.