Incredible Figs: A Healthy Indulgence

Mother Nature’s greatest gifts to Mankind are naturally healthy Fruits bestowing never-ending benefits for a healthy body and mind. Fruits make an important part of a healthy diet and become the best and the tastiest way to be healthy. They provide the body with all the required nutrients and their high fiber content makes them our body’s best friends. They are natural medicines to fight against or reduce the chances of many diseases. One such delightfully wonderful little known fruit with lot of healthy compounds is none other than the fig or anjeer.

 

Anjeer Benefits

Benefits of Anjeer or Fig (Image source: sxc.hu)

 

Popularly known as Ficus carica in botanical terms figs belong to the plant family of Moraceae, related to the banyan tree. Native to Asia and parts of the Mediterranean region like Greece and Afghanistan Figs grow nearly in all tropical and sub tropical countries.  A nutrient rich fruit, which can be consumed in fresh or dried from, figs bear their similarity  to the pears in shape with a smooth skin texture in colours like yellow to green, copper, black or purple having red, pink or amber flesh containing small crunchy golden colour seeds.  Although considered a fruit, it is actually an inverted flower and its seeds are the real fruit.  It is a nutrient rich fruit, which can be consumed in fresh or dried form.

 

Parts Used

Bark, leaves, fruit 

 

Figs Nutritional properties 100g
Nutrients Value 
Carbohydrates 19.18 g
Protein 0.75 g
Total Fat 0.30 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Dietary Fibre 2.9 g
Beta Carotene 85 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 9 mcg
Vitamins Value
Folates(Vitamin B9) 6 mcg
Niacin(Vitamin B3) 0.400 mg
Pantothenic acid(Vitamin B5) 0.300 mg
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) 0.113 mg
Riboflavin(Vitamin B2 0.050 mg
Thiamin(Vitamin B1) 0.060
Vitamin A 142 IU
Vitamin C 2 mg
Vitamin E 0.11 mg
Vitamin K 4.7 mcg
Minerals Value
Sodium 1 mg
Potassium 232 mg
Calcium 35 mg
Copper 0.070 mg
Iron 0.37 mg
Magnesium 17 mg
Manganese 0.128 mg
Selenium 0.2 mcg
Zinc 0.15 mg

 

Medicinal Benefits of Anjeer (Figs)
  • Figs or Anjeer are rich in Vitamin B Complex (B Vitamins) and help metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

    Dried Figs

    Dried Figs (Image source: Wikipedia)

  • Rich in fibre regular consumption of figs enhances digestive health and treats common digestive disorders such as irregular bowel syndrome and constipation.
  • The high mucilage content in anjeer helps to heal and protect sore throats.
  • Figs are an excellent source of iron and copper required for production of healthy red cells and transporting oxygen to the tissues in the body.  Lack of iron in the body makes a person weak exhausted prone to infection.
  • Containing loads of vitamins, fibre and essential minerals, figs help boost immune function, protecting against risk of diseases and infection.
  • Being a rich source of calcium, figs promote strong and healthy bones improving bone density.  Due to the presence of potassium, there is considerable reduction in bone thinning due to loss of calcium in urine.
  • Since calcium content in fig plays an important part in strengthening the bones besides maintaining normal bone density, they prevent the development of bone related disorders like osteoporosis in old age.
  • Figs contain potassium, a mineral that is vital for regulating Blood Pressure as Potassium helps maintain fluid balance in the body reducing the effects of sodium.
  • Besides regulating Blood Pressure levels potassium content in figs are useful in controlling blood sugar levels too.
  • Fig works in preventing the oxidation of fatty acids. Thereby it helps suppress the generation of reactive oxygen species, and helps prevent atherosclerosis.
  • Figs contain a soluble fibre known as Pectin that goes through the digestive system, absorbs cholesterol and eliminate them out of body.
  • Figs contain phenol, Omega-3 and Omega-6 that are fatty acids highly effective in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • The presence of fibre helps eliminate cancer-causing carcinogen substances thus preventing the risk of cancer.
  • Figs contain Folate, which combat with heavy menstruation and proves highly beneficial for pregnant and lactating women.
  • The presence of vitamin A, in figs is beneficial for good skin
  • Figs contains high phenol antioxidants, which prevent the damages of the cells caused by free radicals
  • Figs are good for eyesight.  They are excellent sources of vitamin A, which prevents deterioration of eyesight such as age related macular degeneration
  • Figs traditionally used to reduce sexual weakness and improve sex drive.
  • In addition to enhancing one’s sexual drive, regular use of figs prevent muscular deterioration.
  • Figs are excellent source of dietary fibres. These fibres are good for reducing body weight and are often recommended for weight loss program.

 

Medicinal Uses of Fig tree

Anjeer or fig treeThe latex obtained from the bark of the tree contains anti bacterial properties.  Therefore it is used a dressing for wounds, to clean Pustule wounds, heal burns, skin sores warts, corns and calluses including treatment for insect bites.

 

A plaster made with latex from the plant is used for applying on the swelling of Mums. The extract made with the bark of the plant is used as a gargling lotion for dental problems.  Dry fig soaked in milk makes a wonderful remedy for swollen gums.

 

A powder made from the dried roots of the plant taken with water or buttermilk imparts immense relief from dysentery.

 

Women suffering with Leucorrhoea can take the latex from the bark (Dried) twice daily gives a good relief.

 

To treat bronchitis and other lung ailments such as asthma Fig leaf tea makes a great remedy.

 

A popular natural remedy for ulcers is by chewing and swallowing fig leaves.

 

Consuming an infusion prepared from fresh fig leaves improves circulatory health.

 

Regular consumption of this fruit helps improve memory and relieve sleeping disorders

 

Regular intake of ground fig leaves (four numbers) along with sugar candy taken along with a glass of water twice a day makes a natural remedy for treating liver cirrhosis.

 

A great combination of figs and honey provide relief from laryngitis and voice hoarseness and helps in dealing with problems connected with vision.

 

A mixture of yogurt mixed with figs consumed twice or thrice a week reduces inflammation of spleen.

 

Having a cup of fresh fig juice for a few days, helps eliminate kidney stones.

 

Drinking a concoction of buttermilk mixed with a teaspoon of powdered fig bark helps get rid of diarrhoea and mouth ulcers.

 

Massaging the scalp regularly with coconut oil mixed with dried fig root stops hair fall.

 

Externally, the leaves were considered a remedy for leprosy, sores, ulcers, scabs, bruises, dog bites, dropsy, and epilepsy.

 

The beautiful leaves of the fig tree are used to make an odd scented perfume with the aroma of wood or musk.

 

The white, milky latex from the tree can be used as a meat tenderizer or in making cheese, if the latex is dried and powdered.

 

Culinary uses of Figs

Fig-rollThe luscious sweet seasonal figs or anjeer are used as part of certain cuisines.  However, a paste of this exotic fruit makes an excellent substitute for sugar. Processed figs are used to make pies, pudding, cakes, other bakery products, jam, jellies and preserves. Dried figs can be used in appetizers and desserts such as muffins, cakes, muesli bars, porridge, oatmeal or breakfast cereals. Fresh figs are often used in healthy salads.

 

Legendary folklore

Various civilizations through time have revered figs as sacred denoting a sign of peace, fertility, or prosperity

 

From an Old Testament point of view, figs have been in existence since the inception of the world. According to some scholars, in The Holy Bible, when Eve picked the forbidden fruit it was not an apple but was believed to be a fig.

 

The fig was dedicated to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine (Greek equivalent Dionysus) and used in religious ceremonies.  It was believed by the Romans that Saturn discovered the fruit, although the Greeks had other myths about its origins

 

The Roman writer Ovid tells us that gifts of figs were traditionally given on the first day of the new year, and the legend has it that the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, rested under a fig tree

 

In Greek mythology, the fig figures prominently as a gift of Demeter to Dionysus and as having received the blessing and sanctity of the Greek Gods. In Greek mythology, the fig was associated with the satyr Priapus (the figure portrayed on modern Greek postcards with a huge erection and half goat and half man), who symbolized sexual desire

 

Plato documented that Greek athletes at Olympia were fed diets of figs to increase their running speed and overall strength.

 

Another myth says that Sykes, one of the Titans who went to war with the gods had to flee the wrath of Zeus, father of the gods, and was changed into a fig tree by his mother Gaia (the Earth) and so hidden from Zeus

 

The ancients claimed that if you tied a mad bull to a fig tree he would quickly become tame and gentle. Furthermore, the claim is that, like the bay tree, the fig tree is never hurt by lightning.

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