Fig—a member of the mulberry family—is one of the most delicate fruits. Fig is a fragile fruit and can bruise easily. Adding figs to food products not only enhances their taste, but also their nutritive value. In fact, they also help in keeping the confectioneries fresh and moist for a longer time.
The best ones are plump, fragrant and have a very slight dent when touched. Avoid those that are hard, mushy, or show signs of mould.
However, dried figs are more popular and commonly used than the fresh ones.
The many health benefits of figs
Figs are healthy. Here’s why eating them is good.
Relieves constipation and helps heal piles
They have a mild laxative effect because of their high fibre content [the fibre content in figs is higher than in any other fruit or vegetable]. Eat two dried figs soaked in water overnight every morning and before going to bed with a glass of warm water to stay away from problems like haemorrhoids (piles) and constipation.
Helps control blood pressure
The potassium in fig helps control blood pressure. Also being high in magnesium, the potassium-magnesium combination combats acidity and gas formation to a great extent. Soaking a fig overnight in water and having it early in the morning with 4 – 5 basil leaves is of great help here.
Improves heart health
Dried fig is rich in phenol, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The high soluble-fibre content helps reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by over 20 per cent, thus preventing plaque buildup in the arteries.
Promote weight loss
They have zero cholesterol or saturated fats, which, along with their fibre content promotes weight loss.
They are abundant in vitamin B6, which enhances production of serotonin [mood-boosting hormone] and prevents water retention.
Eases symptoms of menopause
Menopausal women with major mood swings can benefit from eating figs. Women on birth control pills too can have figs to replenish their vitamin B6 levels, which gets depleted by the pill.
Increases bone density
Being rich in calcium, figs help in increasing bone density.
Helps sleep better
Get rid of insomnia by eating them regularly—figs are rich in tryptophan, a vitamin that induces good sleep.
Soothes respiratory ailments
Soothe your respiratory ailments with this simple remedy. Boil 4 – 5 fresh figs in about half litre water. Bring the water to a boil and then strain the mixture. Once cooled, drink the mixture and get instant relief from a sore throat.
Boosts skin health
Get soft, glowing and blemish-free skin by including them in your daily diet. A natural way to treat boils is by applying the inner red part of a fresh fig over it and sealing it. Keep it on for 10 – 15 minutes and then wash it away with warm water.
Figs in your food
Here are some ways to incorporate figs into your diet and reap its benefits:
- Dried figs added to milkshakes or smoothies lend extra flavour, while making the drinks high in energy—an ideal way to start your day.
- They can be added to baked goodies like muffins, cakes, cookies, muesli and energy bars.
- They double up as natural sweeteners in oatmeal, ragi or any other wholegrain breakfast porridges.
- Dried figs can also be added to fruit salads or custard. You can finely chop the figs and add them to your favourite salad with cinnamon before serving.
Recipe: Fig coconut energy bar
100g chopped dried figs, 50g cornflakes, 40g shredded coconut, 1/4 cup water, 50g chopped dates
- Boil dates and figs in water till the fruits become soft.
- Remove from flame and add crushed cornflakes.
- Sprinkle half the coconut on a baking sheet to form a square. Spread the date mixture on top and sprinkle the remaining coconut on top.
- Refrigerate till firm. Then cut into bars and serve.
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