A staple of the Mediterranean diet, figs are more readily available dried than they are fresh. And, in my experience, it’s hard to get a fresh fig just right, even during its season.
I know this because I’ve spent many a summer in the unofficial fig capital of the world, southern Turkey, where fresh figs are eaten farm-to-table and stand as a prized part of the region’s diet and economy. After having my share in Turkey, the figs I’ve tried in the US and Europe always come off as too hard, picked before ripe, and lacking in depth of flavor. But that’s no reason to avoid the superfood fruit — do your research to find the best raw fig provider in your area. Its dried counterpart is also universally available and universally delicious! Given its superfood health benefits, figs should be a regular, if not daily, part of your diet.
Why Figs Are A Superfood
One cup of dried figs contain 371 calories, 1.4 grams of fat, 1 milligrams of sodium, 1013 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of dietary fiber, 4.9 grams of protein, and 24 percent of the RDA of calcium, 16 percent of iron, 10 percent of vitamin B-6, and 25 percent of magnesium. It only takes a glimpse at these stats to realize the nutritional value of figs and how they can significantly improve your quality of life!
One of the fig’s most prized attributes is its fiber density, which aids digestion, treats constipation, and, in effect, boosts weight loss efforts. It also lends to the prevention of colon-related cancers. The soluble fiber in figs, pectin, also helps to reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
It may not appear as such, but figs actually contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as phenols. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids work together to prevent and treat coronary heart disease. Phenolic acid incites antioxidant activity that inhibits degenerative diseases, like cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and cancer.
Also taking the lead among the fig’s various vitamins, nutrients, and minerals is potassium. The mineral is responsible for so many health perks, including lowering blood pressure, reducing cardiovascular mortality, thwarting kidney stones, and preventing diabetes.
How To Enjoy Figs
I like to carry around dried figs for an afternoon pick-up or add to a holiday dish like stuffing. Be sure not to have more than 5 dried figs per day, as they are still concentrated with a lot of natural sugars and too much can ultimately backtrack on figs’ inherent benefits. For fresh figs, eat those that are in season and fully ripe. Fig season is from late June to early fall. Eat them alone or add to a salad!
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Image Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin