Are Figs Good For You? Pros and Cons of Figs in 2020

Are Figs Good For You? Pros and Cons of Figs in 2020

Figs are popular worldwide because they are super delicious and versatile. You can eat them raw, dried, or cooked. Figs are packed with plenty of nutrients, but they are high in sugars. 

Ficus carica, or the fig, has its origins in Asia Minor. After a while, the Greeks and Romans brought it to their area, making it a staple food of the Mediterranean region. 

In 1520, the fig arrived in America (California) thanks to Franciscan missionaries. 

Figs grow well in warm climates, but you can find food products containing figs worldwide. These include fig paste, fig concentrate, dried figs, fig jam and preserves, and so many other processed foods. 

The fig tree dates way back thousands of years. 

It is mentioned more than once in the Bible. Both the Old and New Testament have verses where the fig tree is present. 

Apart from being a symbol of fertility, peace, and prosperity in many world religions, some historians believe that it was among the first domesticated trees. 

Continue reading to discover the benefits and downsides of eating figs. 

 

figs-nutrition

Are Figs Nutritious?

Raw figs contain plenty of nutrients, but most of its calories come from sugars. 

Here are the nutrition facts for one medium (about 50g) fresh fig:

  • Calories: 37
  • Carbs: 9.6 g, out of which sugars 8.1 g and fiber 1.4 g
  • Fat: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 0.4 g
  • Potassium: 3% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Calcium: 2% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 2% of the DV
  • Manganese: 3% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 2% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 2% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 3% of the DV

Even if fresh figs are high in sugars, you can still eat them from time to time because they are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber. They can be part of a snack, appetizer, dessert, or even a main dish. 

Some fruits, including figs, are naturally packed with phenolic acids and flavonoids that help our bodies stay healthy. If you crave sweets, opt for these fruits instead. 

Figs contain vitamin B6 and vitamin K. Both are linked to cognitive and heart health, among others. 

 

fig-health-benefits

Fig Health Benefits

There are hundreds of types of figs, but you can easily find Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Kadota, and Calimyrna figs. Figs grown in different parts of the world have different chemical compositions. Nonetheless, all kinds of figs are suitable for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. 

Figs Grown In Oman Can Help Fight Brain Problems

Studies conducted on a mice model with Alzheimer's disease (AD) showed that consumption of figs may improve cognitive and behavioral deficits. 

Figs are rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They also contain proanthocyanidins and quercetin, which have antioxidant properties. 

Those who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's don't have a specific treatment to follow because modern medicine doesn't have a cure at the moment. Some of the side effects of AD are chronic inflammation and neural dysfunction.  Research shows that figs grown in Oman can decrease high levels of inflammatory cytokines. 

In conclusion, you can help prevent and minimize the side effects of brain aging by having a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. These foods contain bioactive compounds that have antioxidant properties and contribute to overall health. 

Figs Can Help With Digestion

Figs are a good source of fruit fiber. This type of fiber has numerous benefits for the digestive system. Studies show that you need to consume at least 2 whole fruit servings per day to trigger colonic prebiotic activity. It is recommended to choose fruits with more than 2.5 grams of fiber per serving, such as figs, apples, bananas, etc.

Fresh figs have plenty of fiber, but dried figs have even more. One ounce (28 grams) has almost 70 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber. Dried figs contain more calories than fresh fruit, but they are available year-round. 

In one study, rats received Loperamide to induce constipation. Fig paste was given to the rats in the experimental groups for 4 weeks. The rats that were part of the fig-treated group has fewer episodes of constipation. 

Other findings state that figs have beneficial effects for those who suffer from chronic constipation.

Consuming figs, or other whole fruits with high-fiber content helps nourish the healthy gut bacteria. Therefore, it can prevent inflammatory bowel and diverticular disease, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal issues. 

Figs Have Benefits For People With Diabetes

Fresh and dried figs contain high amounts of sugar and are not suitable for people who have diabetes. 

However, a study proved that fig leaf does have some benefits. In the study, ten people having type 1 diabetes needed a lower dose of insulin after consuming fig leaf tea with breakfast. 

Also, findings show that beverages containing fig fruit extract have a lower GI than those that don't. The conclusion was that fig fruit extract supplementation might help stabilize blood sugar levels in those with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Another study presents promising evidence for the benefits of fig leaf extract on rats with diabetes. The results highlighted the antidiabetic properties of the fig leaves, which helped decrease hyperglycemia.

Figs Contribute to Skin and Hair Health

There isn't enough evidence to medically support the use of figs for treating different skin issues, but some studies suggest that those who suffer from dermatitis could give it a try. 

Creams containing fig fruit extract are safe, efficient, and easily tolerated by those who have mild to moderate atopic dermatitis, including children. Instead of using low potent corticosteroids, you could try using a natural cream containing fig fruit extract. 

Concerning hair health, you will notice that many shampoos, conditioners, and hair products contain figs. Traditional medicine uses these fruits to promote hair growth and strength. 

 

figs-downsides

Downsides of Figs

Fig consumption doesn't usually cause side effects. However, there are some exceptions. 

Digestive Issues

If you resort to figs to treat constipation, you might overdo it. Eating them in large amounts can cause unpleasant effects, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and so on. Also, if you experience any stomach issues immediately after consuming figs, reduce your intake to be on the safe side. Some people don't easily tolerate high-fiber fruits. 

Allergies

Studies show that those who are allergic to birch pollen may also be allergic to figs. 

If you don't know how your body reacts to birch pollen, but you do have an allergic reaction whenever you eat fruits from the mulberry family (jackfruit, breadfruit, mulberries, etc.), you might also have a fig allergy. 

Moreover, fig-trees have natural latex. This means that those who are allergic to rubber latex can be allergic to figs as well.

Drug Interactions

Figs, dried or raw, contain high amounts of vitamin K. This vitamin helps thicken the blood. People who take warfarin or other blood-thinning medications need to pay attention to their vitamin K intake. Figs don't interact with these medicines, except if you exceed your daily allowance of vitamin K. 

 

figs-key-points

Key Points To Remember

  • Figs can help relieve constipation, but it seems that dried figs are more efficient than fresh figs.
  • There are different ways to incorporate figs in your diet. You can eat the fruit (fresh or dried), the leaves, and you can make tea from dried leaves. 
  • Figs can help with constipation, but eating too many can lead to diarrhea or other digestive issues.  
  • Figs can help prevent several chronic diseases because they have antioxidant and prebiotic properties. They are also highly nutritious.
  • People who are allergic to birch pollen might also have a fig allergy.
  • Figs are a good source of vitamin K. Those who take drugs that interact with this vitamin (blood-thinning pills) need to pay attention to their fig intake. 

 

Did You Know…

  • You can replace fat with fig puree in baked goods.
  • Some people believe that the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden was actually a fig.
  • Half a cup of figs has the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk!
  • The fig tree doesn't blossom, but it does produce flowers. The flowers are inside the fruit.