The Health Benefits of Figs

April 1, 2008


Brief History of Figs

The fig tree is native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and was the world’s first cultivated tree. The fig is believed to be as old as human kind.

Adam and Eve made the fig famous after having covered their nakedness with fig leaves and among the ancient Greeks and Romans, the fig had a symbolic and spiritual significance. The fig tree gave shelter to the famous Roman mythical characters Romulus and Remus while the she-wolf nursed them. In Greek mythology, the Titan Sykeus was hidden from Zeus by his mother in the guise of a fig tree. The village Vidurashwatha, in the Kolar district of India, gets it’s name from an ashwatha (fig) tree said to have been planted by Vidura, a court member of King Dhritarashtra.

Spartan athletes in ancient Greece were said to eat figs in order to improve their performance.

Nutrients in Figs

Figs, whether fresh or dried, are an extraordinarily good source of dietary fiber, natural sugars, iron, calcium, and potassium.

Fig, dried, uncooked Nutritional value per
100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,041 kJ (249 kcal)
* Carbohydrates 63.87 g
Dietary fiber 9.8 g
* Fat 0.93 g
* Protein 3.30 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.085 mg
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.082 mg
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.619 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.434 mg
* Vitamin B6 0.106 mg
* Folate (Vit. B9) 9 ?g
* Vitamin C 1.2 mg
* Calcium 162 mg
* Iron 2.03 mg
* Magnesium 68 mg
Phosphorus 67 mg
Potassium 680 mg
Zinc 0.55 mg
A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found in the Nutrition Database where this food can also be added to a meal planner.

Figs for Diabetes

Numerous studies have demonstrated that fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties, and reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetics.

Figs for Blood Pressure

Figs are a good source of potassium, an important mineral to help control blood pressure.

Figs for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Studies have shown the ability of fig leaves to lower the levels of triglycerides. Triglycerides are the major form of fat produced and stored in the body, and elevated levels of triglycerides are commonly linked to obesity and heart disease.

Figs as a Laxative

Figs are mildly laxative, and syrup of figs is a well-known and effective gentle laxative.

Figs for Cancer Prevention

Studies show that fig leaves have the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Serraclara A, Hawkins F, Pérez C, Domínguez E, Campillo JE, Torres MD. Hypoglycemic action of an oral fig-leaf decoction in type-I diabetic patients. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1998 Jan;39(1):19-22. PMID: 9597370.

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  1. Pingback: No Fig Newtons here: Crostata di Fichi, Tuscan villas, and the joy of figs! | themindfulbite

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