10 Health Benefits of Figs
Benefits of figs
Figs are chock full of health benefits. They provide good sources of dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are also rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and iron. Figs also contain the Vitamin A, B6, E and K, all which contribute to optimal health and wellness.
Continue reading to learn 10 health benefits of figs and why figs may be a healthy fruit choice for you this holiday season.
A 64g serving* of fresh figs provides:
Note: 64g serving = 1 large fig @ 2.5″ diameter
- Calories – 47.4
- Polyunsaturated Fat – .1 g
- Protein – .5 g (1% DV)
- Dietary Fiber – 2 g (7% DV)
- Calcium – 22.4 mg (2% DV)
- Folate – 3.8 mcg (1% DV)
- Iron – .2 mg (1% DV)
- Magnesium – 11 mg (3% DV)
- Manganese – 0.1 mg (4% DV)
- Phosphorus – 9 mg (1% DV)
- Potassium – 148 mg (4% DV)
- Zinc – 0.1 mg (1% DV)
- Vitamin A – 90.9 IU (2% DV)
- Vitamin B6 – 0.1mg (4% DV)
- Vitamin C -1.3 mg (2% DV)
- Vitamin K – 3.0 mcg (4% DV)
10 health benefits of figs
Here are ten awesome health benefits of figs:
1. Assist in cardiovascular function/lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure.
- In animal studies, pectin, a soluble fiber found in fig leaves has been shown to lower levels of triglycerides within the body.
- Figs also contain high levels of polyphenol antioxidants which have been proven to help prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
2. Improve reproductive health
- Clinical studies have shown figs help to increase sperm motility and count, both of which are essential for reproductive health.
- Researchers believe this connection might be linked to the amino acids, magnesium and calcium found in figs.
3. Aid in weight-loss and promote healthy bowel function
- The dietary fiber and low amount of calories found in figs have been shown to have positive correlations to weight loss and weight management.
4. Help with kidney function
- A study on laboratory animals published in The Natural Products Research Journal found compounds in fig leaves reduced injury to the kidneys caused by high cholesterol levels.
5. Protect against cancer
- Figs top the list for fruits highest in fiber, sharing this title with apples, dates, pears and prunes.
- An eight year study involving 51,823 postmenopausal women showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk for those consuming the most fruit fiber compared to those consuming the least.
- Additional studies have found that while in in-vitro, figs inhibited the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
6. Lower insulin levels
- Figs have repeatedly been shown to have anti-diabetic properties and can reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetics who require insulin injections.
- However, due to the high sugar content found in figs, it is important for diabetics to consult with their physician prior to adding figs to their diets.
7. Promote bone density
- A serving of 10 dried figs provides 220-269 milligrams of calcium. This is about 20% of the recommended daily value for calcium.
- It is also believed that the high potassium content of figs may counteract the urinary excretion of calcium caused by diets high in sodium. Preventing the loss of calcium through the urine keeps calcium in bones and lessens the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
8. Reduce risk of macular degeneration
- The Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating three or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to people who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
9. Naturally cure anemia (iron-deficiency)
- Anemia is a condition in which your body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues.
- Figs contain copper and iron, two minerals required for red blood cell formation and cellular oxidation.
10. Enhance digestive wellness
- Figs also contain pre-biotics, which help support the pre-existing good bacteria in the gut. Good bacteria is essential in maintaining optimal digestive health.
Potential health risks associated with figs
There are some downsides to this power fruit. Here are five potential health risks associated with figs:
1. High sugar content
- Dried figs are high in sugar and calories relative to fresh figs, with 55 percent of their weight being sugar. This amounts to 185 calories per 1/2-cup serving.
- If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, consume figs sparingly and only according to your doctor’s or nutritionist’s advice.
2. Laxative effect
- Due to their high fiber content, figs may have a mild laxative effect and should not be consumed to excess, particularly when dried.
3. Latex content
- When picking figs from the fig tree, a small amount of fig latex may be produced from the stem. People who have an allergy to latex should consider wearing gloves when picking figs.
- Note: Latex is not present in the fruit itself, only in the stem.
- Figs also contain naturally occurring chemicals called oxalates. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems such as gallbladder and kidney stones.
- For this reason, individuals with kidney or gallbladder problems may consider avoiding the consumption of figs.
5. May contain sulfites
- Commercially grown dried figs may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing to help prevent oxidation.
- They may also be treated with sulfites to extend their shelf life.
- People who are sensitive to sulfites should avoid sulfite-containing foods like dried figs.
- Five percent of asthmatic people are among those who may suffer a reaction when exposed to sulfites.
- Foods that are classified as “organic” do not contain sulfites since the use of these preservatives are prohibited in organically grown or produced foods. Therefore, when buying figs, opt for organic whenever possible.
Give me a shout out!
- Do you eat figs? If yes, how do you like to eat them… fresh, dried or as part of a recipe?
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- Effect of figs fruit (Ficus carica L.) and its leaves on hyperglycemia in alloxan diabetic rats. 2010.World Journal of Dairy & Food Sciences 2010, Vol. 5 (No. 1), pp. 47-57. Available at: http://www.idosi.org/wjdfs/wjdfs5(1)/8.pdf [Accessed: 6 Feb 2014].
- Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. (2014). Dietary fiber intake and risk of postmenopausal… [int j cancer. 2008] – pubmed – ncbi. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17764112&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum [Accessed: 6 Feb 2014].
- Nutritiondata.self.com,. (2015). Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Figs, raw. Retrieved 16 November 2015, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1884/2
When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.