Figs are woefully underrated as fruits. They are seen by most people as exotic fruits from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, which can intimidate many curious individuals who want to give them a try. And we can't blame those people either, since figs are a historically important fruit that is interwoven in so many Asian cultures. But you don't need to know all of the figs' background history to know that they are absolutely delightful to eat. You can have them on their own, or use them in so many recipes! Such as this Mediterranean Saffron Pilaf or Old Fashioned Fruit Cake.
So we are here to tell you everything you should know about figs!
What are figs? Where do they come from?
Figs are the edible fruits of the plant Ficus carica. To break it down in simple words, Figs basically belong to the mulberry family.
Sounds simple till now, right? Not until you hear this fact!
The fig tree doesn't actually produce flowers on its branches. Instead, the flower is inside the fruit!
If you ever wondered why a fig has such a unique texture inside, it's because of the tiny crunchy seeds that are inside the fig!
The harvest of figs is pretty typical of most fruits. The harvest season for figs starts in the spring and lasts till the end of summer.
Figs are preferred to be plucked from their trees when they are fully ripe and just a little bit dry. That's how figs get their trademark chewy consistency!
Also, when we said that figs are historically important, we really meant it. Figs can be traced back to ancient Greco-Roman times. Figs were considered to have life-restoring properties for youths and elders by the ancient Romans, and they even used figs in their medicines.
Historical sources have even shown that ancient Olympic athletes used to eat figs to increase their stamina and constitution! Many also believe that the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden was actually a fig! But don’t let this last fact scare you, as figs in modern-day are available to everyone! And they are as healthy as they were in their ancient days!
Health Benefits of Eating Figs
Figs have been regarded as the fruit of life since our ancient days. Even our ancestors recognized the many health benefits of this juicy and delicious fruit.
Historically figs have been linked with prosperity and health, with the Greeks even associating figs with Goddess Demeter who held dominion overgrowth and fertility during her ancient Godhood days. But are figs actually that good for health?
Well if we listen to health experts of the present modern world, they will agree with our human ancestors!
In fact, figs are so healthy that you should replace them with apples! If you are thinking we are exaggerating, then go and read all the health benefits of figs down below!
1. High blood pressure has become increasingly common these days even more among youngsters thanks to today’s stress-filled modern life.
One leading reason why so many of us suffer from hypertension is the lack of potassium in our diet. The fact that we also eat so much sodium on a daily basis also does not help. Thankfully, figs just happen to be extremely rich in potassium and fiber, which is something that helps in expelling excess sodium from our bodies. So if you are getting worried after seeing your recent blood pressure readings, then having one fig daily can reduce that!
2. There is no hiding that our present-day diet is full of high gluten-containing food. Things like instant ramen, pizza, white bread and so many more have become a normal part of our daily lives. And this inevitably leads to digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea. This is why high-fiber foods like figs are vital for our digestive health. Not only are figs rich in fiber, but they also contain probiotics that aid in keeping our gut health run smoothly.
3. If you feel back pain while bending to pick up your pen or if your knees hurt after climbing one floor of stairs, then maybe it's time you pay attention to your bone health! And no, just drinking milk for its calcium won’t cut it, you need a healthy amount of potassium to keep your bones healthy. Figs are rich in both calcium and potassium! These two minerals can help improve your bone density and even prevent serious bone-related ailments like osteoporosis!
4. Do you know that when sugar was not around people used to use figs as a natural sweetener? Well, you can do this even today if you want to keep your sugar levels healthy! It is no secret that regular sugar is high in fructose, and thus contributes to high blood sugar, which can further lead to serious long-term health conditions like diabetes. Figs are a healthy source of natural sugar. You can use it as a replacement for white sugar. If you want to go even more extra, then try a tea made of fig leaves! Proven research has shown that type 1 diabetic patients can reduce their daily insulin needs with help of fig leaves!
5. Although this health benefit is not exactly from the fruit, it is still so important that we believe you should know it. Recent research has shown that leaves from the fig tree have anti-cancer properties which can prevent the development of cancerous tumors. So maybe consider fig leaf tea in your daily mornings from now on!
6. Figs contain a lot of vitamins and plant antioxidants which are said to be good for the skin! In fact, research has shown creams containing dried fig extracts are more effective in improving skin quality and can even prevent the early onset of wrinkles. So if you are looking for natural creams for your skin, try to look up their ingredients and check if they include dried fig extract!
How to include Figs in our daily life?
Figs unlike most fruits come in multiple forms. Each one of them has its own benefits and we definitely suggest you choose the one that suits your needs the best! Basically, you can eat figs in four different ways:
1. You can always eat figs fresh. Just cut them open and eat them as they are or make a salad or even smoothie out of it! You can also make a number of desserts with fresh figs. If you want to enjoy the juiciness and crunchy texture of figs, then eating them fresh is the way to go. The added bonus of fresh figs being low in sugar and calories also makes them an ideal snack!
2. Dried figs are a delicacy and known for their much sweeter taste than fresh figs. And this is why when it comes to enjoying dried figs, you are better off having them in moderation as they are higher in calories and sugar than fresh figs. But if you are looking to have something that will help with constipation, then dried figs are definitely a better option!
3. Fig leaves are a tad bit difficult to find, but they are worth the effort for the many health benefits they come with. They are extremely nutritious and also easy to work with recipes. You can use them as wraps to meat and steamed fish, or even use them as a filling!
4. The best use of fig leaves is definitely making tea. Not only is it super healthy for you, but it's also extremely easy to make! You can find dried fig leaves for your tea in online stores.
Figs were a magical fruit in the past and they still remain magical to many for their unique appearance and taste. But don’t let their uniqueness scare you, as figs can become a healthy part of your daily diet. We hope that this guide to figs has convinced you to give figs a try and maybe even convinced you to include it in your daily life!