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Health Food of the month - Figs

July 2016

If the fig was discovered today, it would be hailed as a fabulous new food….with a naturally sweet and scented flavour and packed full of great nutrients.

 

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Quinoa

Aubergines

Crab


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

But because figs have been in the shops all our lives, they are not always given the appreciation they deserve.

Figs are indeed a historic fruit; they have formed a delicious part of the diet of the people living in Asia Minor and Turkey since ancient times, the dry and sunny regions where figs grow naturally. Today they are cultivated across the world, although still the majority are grown in the eastern Mediterranean plus America and Spain.

One fascinating little fact about figs is that the fig requires a specific species of wasp, a gall wasp or biastophaga psenes, for pollination and to produce seeds. However, today several popular varieties have been created that develop without pollination.

Natural figs are fairly low in calories for such a sweet fruit  – 100g of fresh fig has a little less than 80 calories.  Dried figs, which have around 60 percent of their water content removed,  are slightly different on the calorie front. Gram for gram dried figs have a lot more calories than natural figs, possibly up to nearly 250 calories for 100 grams (6 – 7 dried figs).  However, along with greater concentration of calories, dried figs can also contain a higher level of nutrients and fibre.

A 100g serving of fresh figs provides approximately:

 80 calories 1.3g protein 0.3g fat 20.3g carbohydrate 2.2g fibre

A 100g serving of dried figs provides approximately:

 249 calories 3.3g protein 0.9g fat 69g carbohydrate 5.6g fibre

But if you are after something sweet, a couple of dried figs is fine because for the same calories as perhaps a single chocolate biscuit you will also be packing in soluble dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants as well.

Overall  figs are an excellent source of nutrition, containing poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes,lutein, tannins and chlorogenic acid. The anti-oxidant value of fresh figs is comparable to the benefits in apples and some reports suggest chlorogenic acid may assist in controlling blood sugar levels.

Then figs also contain vitamin A, E and K which can help remove damaging free radicals and therefore help to protect us against cancer and other problems plus various B-complex vitamins including niacin and folates, all helpful in our metabolism.

Dried figs especially are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper and potassium – 100 g of dried figs will provide around 680 mg of potassium, an important component in cells and something that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
Especially important for our age, figs are naturally high in dietary fibre, giving a feeling of fullness to help overeating, plus they contain prebiotics, which can help support the good bacteria so essential in our digestive processes.

Today fresh figs are available at certain times in many of our supermarkets, especially in the summer months; but dried figs are readily available all year around. Even better, they can be used in so many lovely sweet and savoury dishes to add their unique flavour, centre and texture.


 


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