Fig, the fruit of the fig tree, a tree found native almost throughout the Mediterranean and cultivated in many parts of the world for their edible fruit, is for at least 3000 years a key component of the human diet. It belongs to the family of Moracean. It comes from Karia, Asia Minor and that’s why it is called Ficus carica; it is cultivated for thousands of years for its highly nutritious “fruits”, which are eaten fresh or dried.
Figs were an integral part of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean diet, in such extend that sometimes it replaced bread. It seems that first was cultivated in Egypt from where fig trees were taken to Crete and the rest of Greece, around 1500 BC. Figs constituted the main food of athletes at the Olympic Games, but were also associated with the cult of Dionysus, Dimitra and the Pythagoreans. It also had a symbolic meaning as it symbolized prosperity, fertility, knowledge and unity. According to historians, one of many reasons for Xerxes to conquer Greece were the famous figs in the country, mainly Attica figs.
Moreover, figs are found in various parts of Greece and in great variety: white – black – red – purple – green. The figs of Kimi area is a unique product, recognized by the European Union as a product with Protected Designation of Origin. It is traditional and produced exclusively in the area of Kimi of Evia.
Regardless of their color and quality, figs are very nutritious, have many beneficial properties as well as rich texture and taste; they are eaten whole, but usually peeled. The color of the peel does not play a big role in taste. The high content of natural sugars makes them the sweetest of all fruits. The taste varies depending on the origin and degree of ripeness.
Figs are rich in fiber and are ideal for those who have constipation problem. The daily consumption of three figs helps to alleviate the problem and if you are wondering whether to choose fresh or dried, experts stress that both have the same effect.
Dietary fibers also have a positive effect on weight management. The reason is that they slow digestion and delay excretion of foods from the stomach, maintaining for more time the feeling of satiety.
Furthermore, figs protect from postmenopausal breast cancer. Research of eight years conducted in over 50,000 menopausal women in Sweden found that those eating the most fiber from fruits (the richest of which are figs, apples, pears, plums) reduced their risk by 34% compared to those who consumed the least.
Their rich content of calcium makes figs our allies against osteoporosis. Specifically 100 grams of figs give 35mg calcium.
Figs lower blood pressure because they are rich in potassium, which helps regulate it. Potassium also prevents the loss of calcium in the urine caused by high salt intake.
Calcium combined with potassium help good bone density, while protecting the occurrence of osteopenia, osteoporosis and arthritis.
Figs are a good source of iron and folic acid and therefore very good choice for people with anemia, for women during the sick, for pregnant and nursing women.
Additionally, figs are a good source of magnesium, which helps relieve fatigue, relaxing the muscles, nerves and blood vessels, migraines, tension and muscle pain, etc.
They are also a good source of copper, which reduces the risk of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, enhances the activity of enzymes necessary to maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
Good source of manganese, which is an essential cofactor in many enzymatic reactions in the body, especially in the field of energy production and antioxidant defenses.
Figs improve our sex life, as they are a natural aphrodisiac. Indeed, from the most ancient times, figs were used in cases involving sexual weakness.
Figs relieve sore throat. Their sticky substance helps a lot if you have sore throat. This substance when mixed with water swells and is thought to protect the throat, reduces irritation and soothes the pain.
They are also rich in vitamins A, B, C. The more mature the figs are, the more antioxidants they contain. Fresh figs contain 80% water and respectively contain no trace of fat and cholesterol.
Individuals who have gastrointestinal disease should be particularly careful in eating figs, because of their seeds. People who have kidney problems, or gall bladder or kidney stones, it is advised to limit or avoid eating figs, because it is one of the few fruits that contain oxalic acids, which in high concentrations in body fluids, are crystallized and form calcium oxalate stones.
The calorific value of figs is high (100g fresh figs yields about 100 calories, 100g dried figs yields about 275 calories while fig preserves (a fig) 55 calories), so we need to be cautious in their consumption and avoid excesses.
Now their season is coming to an end, but luckily we can benefit from their beneficial properties all year around by eating dried figs. Soon I’ll show you a very nice way to enjoy them constantly.
Note: The ideas and information presented in this blog are for informational purposes only and in no case can replace the advice of a specialist in nutrition and health. Before starting any diet or exercise or before adding a special food in your daily intake, you should contact a specialist doctor or dietitian; especially if you suffer from a serious illness.