Figs have been around since the beginning of time itself, and there are many ancient Sumerian texts referring to them – some as far back as 2900 BC. While many of us here in the Western world only consume figs in sweet cookie form, the fruit is naturally only mildly sweet and packed with health benefits. Here are five benefits of figs and the reasons you should add them to your diet.
If there’s one reason to eat figs more frequently, it’s the vitamins and nutrients they can provide. Figs are very rich in several vitamins, and these include A, C, B1, and B3, among others. They also contain natural pectin, which is a great source of dietary fiber. Figs are also rich in iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and organic acids – all of which play vital roles in many bodily processes, including cellular regeneration. The benefits of figs in your diet are truly endless as they’ll help you get your RDA of all these vitamins and minerals.
Figs contain both kinds of dietary fiber, which are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers can dissolve in water, which helps regulate your blood sugar and aids in digestion by helping the contents of your intestines move along more quickly and smoothly. Soluble fiber softens the stool, making it easier to pass, all while helping to solidify the stool, which can prevent bouts of diarrhea. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, remains intact as it passes through your digestive tract. This is especially helpful for preventing constipation; it absorbs water and softens the stool much like soluble fiber.
Figs contain several antioxidant groups, which have been shown to fight off free radicals and reduce the overall odds of developing cancer. This is one of the most exciting benefits of figs. These tiny fruits are especially well-known for a particular compound known as benzaldehyde, which is a polyphenol that is especially anticarcinogenic; it’s one of the more extensively studied groups of antioxidants. Some studies have even suggested that vitamin A can help ward off cancer, and figs are a great source of this vitamin.
Another of the more exciting benefits of figs is their ability to help you lose weight when consumed regularly and as part of a healthy diet. The soluble and insoluble fibers alike make meals seem more filling, which satisfies your appetite without adding additional calories (read about more appetite suppressant foods here). What’s more, the figs help to regulate blood sugar, which leads to less fat production. Finally, a compound found in figs – called ficin – has been clinically proven to convert protein to amino acids necessary for muscle growth. The more muscle mass in your body, the more effectively you can shed pounds.
Women are especially prone to anemia, which can be truly problematic. Treatments may include the use of iron supplements, but if the condition is exceptionally severe, patients may even need blood transfusions. Figs can help prevent anemia by adding dietary iron and increasing the production of red blood cells in the body. What’s more, with additional red blood cells, the organs and tissues throughout your body will receive more oxygen and nutrients, which helps them function more efficiently.
The benefits of figs are many, and if you haven’t added them to your diet yet, you should. They can be difficult to find in most major markets, but many organic food stores carry them. Remember to wash them before storage, and keep them in the refrigerator to extend their life. They’ll keep for two to three days after purchase, so buy them frequently and eat them regularly.