Figs are sweet fruits with multiple seeds and soft skin, which can be eaten ripe or dried. Figs are also called nature’s candy because they are high in natural sugar. They have a unique taste and has a soft chewy texture. They are among the oldest fruits to be consumed by man and holds many health benefits. They are known as Anjeer in hindi.
Benefits of fig
- Weight loss – The fiber in figs helps to reduce weight and is often recommended for obese people. Dried fruits, especially figs are convenient and superior source of nutrients. However, their high-calorie count can also result in weight gain. So, few figs are adequate source to get the recommended sufficient amount of nutrients. Fig bars are another option for on-the-go nutrition recommended for both, adults and children.
- Treat Sexual Dysfunction – For centuries, figs have been recommended as a way to reduce sexual dysfunction issues including sterility, low endurance or erectile dysfunction. The sweet, thin-skinned fruits have been a major part of mythology and culture, and most of the time, they are referred to as powerful fertility or sexual supplement. Their actual success as an aphrodisiac is questionable, but the huge amount of valuable vitamins and minerals is probably the reason for the sudden boost in energy and stamina that people mistake for a sexual surge.
- Lower Blood Pressure – People usually consume sodium in the form of a salt, but low potassium and high sodium level may lead to hypertension. Figs are high in potassium and low in sodium, so they are a perfect defense against the effects of hypertension. Reducing blood pressure can help in relaxation, settle the nerves and bring some calmness to the day.
- Strengthen Bones – Studies say that figs are rich in calcium, which is one of the most important components in strengthening bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. They are also rich in phosphorus, which encourages the formation of the bones and spurs regrowth, if there is any damage to or degradation in bones.
- Control Diabetes – The American Diabetes Association recommends fig as a high-fiber treat that helps to promote functional control of diabetes. The leaves of fig reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetic patients who have to regularly take insulin injections. They are rich in potassium, which helps to regulate the amount of sugar absorbed by the body after meals. Large amounts of potassium can ensure that blood sugar spikes and falls are less frequent.
- Antioxidant Properties – As mentioned, figs are rich source of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect the human body against oxidative stress. Furthermore, fig leaves have an inhibitory effect on triglycerides, making their overall number drop. Triglycerides are another major factor behind the various heart diseases.
- Prevent Constipation – According to a study led by a team of researchers from The University of Scranton, USA, fruits like figs contain a good amount of fiber. This high concentration of fiber helps to promote healthy, regular bowel function and prevents constipation. Fiber works to add bulk and mass to the bowel movements, so it not only prevents constipation but also eliminates diarrhea and unhealthy or irregular bowel movements.
- Treat Piles – If you are suffering from piles, a popular home remedy is to soak dried figs soaked in water overnight and have the fruit along with the water in the morning. This has a laxative effect and helps to reduce the pressure on the anus, thus helping in soothing the hemorrhoids. According to a report published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal in 2013, they have been traditionally used for their laxative, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Lower Cholesterol Levels – Figs contain pectin, a soluble fiber that stimulates healthy bowel movements. They can have a laxative effect, as mentioned since they are one of the most fiber-dense foods available. When fiber moves through the digestive tract, it mops up excess clumps of cholesterol and carries them to the excretory system to get eliminated from the body. According to studies on pectin, it is also associated with lowering cholesterol levels and anticancer activities.
- Reduce the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s – Figs are considered as one of the best fruits, when it comes to alleviating neuro-inflammation. An animal study conducted by Prof. Guillemin GJ, Neuroscience, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Macquarie University Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research, has revealed that the fruit is able to reduce the inflammatory cytokines during aging. In other words, it has a beneficial effect on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s for humans.
- Treat Bronchitis – The natural chemicals in fig leaves make them an ideal component for a tea base. Fig leaf tea has been popularly prescribed for various respiratory conditions like bronchitis and is also used as a way to prevent and lessen the symptoms of asthma.
- Provides Relief from Venereal Diseases – Figs have been traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and some other parts of the world as a calming salve for venereal diseases. Ingestion or topical application of these fruits work towards providing relief from sexually transmitted diseases, although further research needs to be done on the exact range of symptoms and diseases that these fruits positively affect.
- Prevent Urinary Calcium Loss – People who maintain a high-sodium diet may be affected by an increased urinary calcium loss. The high potassium content in figs helps to avoid that condition and regulates the content of waste in the urine, according to The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. It minimizes the calcium loss while increasingly eliminating the amount of uric acid and other harmful toxins out of the body.
- Prevent Macular Degeneration – The major cause of vision loss among the elderly is macular degeneration. Organic figs are good at helping avoid this common symptom of aging.
- Relieve Throat Pain – The high mucilage content in figs helps to heal and protect sore throats. The soothing nature of these fruits and their natural juices can relieve pain and stress on the vocal cords as well.
- Skin & Hair Health – Figs are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that prevent the damage caused by free radicals. They have a high level of alkanes and therefore, help regulate the pH of the body. The fruits are used to treat many number of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Figs are effective digestive aids and are known for their soothing and laxative properties and are also low in fat and sugar. They help in treating various health conditions that include:
- Respiratory disorders like whooping cough and asthma
- Constipation, indigestion, stomach ache, and various other intestinal conditions
- Liver diseases
Adding figs to your diet
Figs can be eaten in their raw form. They are sweet and soft and their paste is often used as a replacement for sugar. Fig spread is used as a healthier option, instead of corn syrup and sucrose. It is incorporated into pies, pudding, cakes, assorted baked goods, and preserves. Organic Turkish figs are considered a healthy snack.
Recipe for Fig (Anjeer) Halwa
Preparation Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 14 mins Total Time: 29 mins Makes 4 servings
1 1/4 cups dried figs (anjeer)
3 tbsp ghee
1/2 cup blanched , peeled and coarsely powdered almonds (badam)
4 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp milk powder
1/4 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder
For The Garnish
1 tbsp almond (badam) slivers
Boil enough water in a saucepan, add the figs, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes or till they turn soft, while stirring occasionally.
Drain it using a strainer.
Blend in a mixer to a smooth paste using approx. ¼ cup of water. Keep the figs purée aside.
Heat the ghee in a deep non-stick kadhai, add the powdered almonds, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 minutes, while stirring continuously.
Add the puréed figs, milk powder, sugar and ½ cup of water, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes, while stirring continuously.
Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
Serve hot garnished with almond slivers.
Recipe for Healthy Fig Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 5 mins Cooking Time: 7 mins Total Time: 12 mins Makes 6 scoops
1/2 cup dried figs (anjeer)
1 3/4 cups cow’s milk
1 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk powder
Combine the dried figs and ¾ cup of milk in a broad non-stick pan, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 6 to 7 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
Cool the mixture completely and blend in a mixer till smooth.
Transfer the mixture into a deep bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of milk, sugar and milk powder and whisk well.
Pour the mixture into a 150 mm. (6”) diameter round shallow aluminium container. Cover with an aluminium foil and freeze for 6 hours or till semi-set.
Pour the mixture into a mixer and once again blend till smooth.
Transfer the mixture back into the same aluminium shallow container. Cover with an aluminium foil and freeze for approx. 10 hours or till set.
Scoop and serve immediately.
Word of caution
Eating too many figs can cause diarrhea. Furthermore, dried forms are high in sugar and can potentially cause tooth decay. Also, there are persons, who are allergic to figs or certain chemical components within them, and the resulting allergic reactions can be mild to severe. As always, before making a major change in your diet, speak with your doctor. It is best not to consume this fruit in excess in the first few weeks leading up to surgery because they can occasionally cause bleeding in the digestive tract in sensitive people.
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