Ancient Super Food – Figs
We’ve all heard the buzz about flax seeds, chia seeds and kale – in fact, every month, there seems to be a new super food that everyone’s talking about. But did you know there’s a super food closer to home that’s cheap, nutrient-dense and very, very good for you? Figs have grown in Egypt for thousands of years. The tree gave the ancient Egyptians food to eat and a shady place to rest in the hot sun. The fruit of a species of ficus tree, figs are technically hollow ended stems containing hundreds of inverted flowers. When you cut one open, what you’re actually looking at are multiple individual fruits, each bearing a single seed. Fig is your local superfood!
Fresh or dried – what’s better?
Both fresh and dried figs have considerable health benefits. Fresh ones have a more delicate texture than their chewier dried counterparts, but they have a short shelf life of just a few days. As a result, dried figs are more convenient for regular consumption. Ounce for ounce, dried figs are higher in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber than their fresh counterpart, but they’re also higher in sugar and calories so they should be eaten in smaller quantities. A quarter-cup serving of dried figs is comparable to a serving of two large fresh figs, providing about the same amount of calories, fiber and potassium.
So why is fig a super food?
Figs have the highest mineral and fiber content of all common fruits, nuts, or vegetables. They are also a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin K. As well as containing different types of disease-fighting antioxidants, they have been shown in studies to raise antioxidant activity. The riper the fig, the more antioxidants it contains. All of this for about 20 to 40 calories per fig. It’s no wonder they’re often called “nature’s most nearly perfect fruit.”
There’s a whopping 5 grams of fiber in just 1 cup of dried figs, which makes them very effective for weight loss, helping to aid digestion, treat constipation and improve general well-being.
- Figs are a great non-dairy source of calcium; one serving contains about a quarter of your daily needs (1,000 milligrams).
- Your teeth will benefit from the potassium, phosphorus and magnesium in them.
- Stewed figs contain about 3 milligrams of iron (about 10 percent of your daily recommended intake) in 1 cup.
- The same number of figs will also provide your body with 23 micro grams of vitamin K, which is needed for proper blood clotting and bone formation.
- The type of fiber found in figs may reduce the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes (type 2) by slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars.
- Figs are a great source of potassium, and high contents of this mineral are beneficial to help control blood pressure.
- They have a slight laxative effect so should not be consumed in excess, particularly when dried.
- If you’re suffering with kidney and gallbladder issues, eat in small amounts or avoid altogether because of their oxalate content.
- Dried figs are higher in sugar than fresh so eat in moderation or avoid if you’re pre-diabetic.