Fig trees are some of the oldest species of trees cultivated in Western Asia and the Middle East. Fig trees were grown in the Jordan Valley since 9400 BC.
In the past, figs were considered a symbol of prosperity, peace and fertility, and they are mentioned often in the Bible. Around the 15th century, figs arrived in England and America.
The nutritional and medicinal properties of figs have been known for thousands of years. Gulen, a herbalist who lived in the eleventh century, wrote: “If dried figs were eaten with nuts before taking a fatal poison, they would protect against harm”. Figs and walnuts were used in the preparation of an ancient antidote called theriac.
Arab doctors used figs for cleaning the stomach and strengthening the body.
From Plato’s writings we may learn that these fruits were consumed by Greek athletes during the Olympics in order to improve their performance.
Today it is known that figs are among the most alkaline fruits, and they are able to fight many diseases (particularly cancer).
Fig trees may live up to 200 years under favorable conditions. There are over 1000 different species of fig trees known over the world, and the fruit can be eaten both raw and dried.
Raw figs have a low glycemic index of – 55, and 100 grams raw figs contain the following nutrients:
- 74 calories;
- 19 g carbohydrates;
- 7 g protein;
- 3 g fat;
- 3 g fiber;
- 232 mg potassium;
- 1 mg manganese;
- 7 micrograms vitamin K;
- 1 mg vitamin B6;
- 17 mg magnesium;
- 35 mg calcium;
- 1 mg thiamin;
- 142 units Vitamin A;
- 2 mg vitamin C.
Dried figs have a medium glycemic index (59-69), and 100 grams of dried figs contain the following:
- 249 calories;
- 9 g carbohydrates;
- 3 g protein;
- 9 g fat;
- 8 g fiber;
- 5 mg manganese;
- 6 micrograms vitamin K;
- 680 mg potassium;
- 68 mg magnesium;
- 162 mg calcium;
- 3 mg copper;
- 2 mg iron;
- 67 mg phosphorus;
- 1 mg vitamin B6;
- 1 mg thiamin;
- 1 mg riboflavin;
- 5 mg zinc.
Figs are also a good source of cellulose, pectin and organic acids.
Fig leaves are widely used for medicinal purposes due to their content of flavonoids and polyphenols including rutin, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, siringic acid, catechin and epicatechin. They also have antidiabetic properties.
Oils extracted from fig leaves have antifungal and antibacterial effects.
Each cancer patient is unique, but all have at least one thing in common: low blood pH. This means they have acidic body, which is a favourable breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, germs and viruses. Figs are a great remedy is such cases being one of the most alkalizing fruits. Also, figs contain a phytochemical known as benzaldehyde, a flavonoid that has strong anti-cancer effects.
Figs are a great source of fiber and contain ficain, an enzyme important for weight loss. Studies have shown that this dietary fiber provides a sense of satiety, improves the energy intake and contributes to weight loss.
If you have high blood pressure, figs are the perfect remedy as they contain potassium, a mineral that is essential in combating hypertension.
Figs have a rejuvenating effect on the body and they slow down the aging process, because they are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanins, all known for their powerful effects of neutralizing free radicals. Figs are also a strong immune stimulant.
Studies show that figs are an excellent remedy for various diseases – anemia, cancer, diabetes, liver and biliary disorders, paralysis, skin diseases and ulcers.
There are numerous studies showing that fig leaf extract has the ability to decrease the length and depth of facial wrinkles and fruit extracts are also useful for reducing pigmentation, acne and even freckles.