Health Benefits of Figs

Health Benefits of Figs

August 12th, 2014 by Loretta Lanphier, NP, CN, CH, HHP

Health Benefits of Figs

Figs, which are a relative of the mulberry (Moraceae), are among the sweetest of fruits and provide a wide array of nutritional and health benefits for the body. Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually an inverted flower, and the seeds are the fruit, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. There are four distinct types of figs: Common Fig, Caprifig, Smyrna, and San Pedro.

One of the world’s oldest trees, the fig tree can be traced back to the earliest historical documents and features prominently in the Bible. Figs are native to the Middle East and Mediterranean and were held in such high regard by the Greeks that laws were once created to prevent their export.

Many don’t know this, but Fig leaves can protect your kidneys. A study on laboratory animals published in the March 2012 issue of the journal “Natural Products Research” found that compounds in fig leaves reduced injury to the kidneys caused by high cholesterol levels. Researchers observed that animals that consumed fig leaf extract showed better kidney function and had lower fat levels in their kidneys compared to their counterparts that did not receive fig leaf extract.

Did You Know? Figs contain a proteolytic enzyme that is considered as an aid to digestion and is used by the pharmaceutical industry. This proteolytic enzyme, also known as ficin, primarily contained in the stem of the fruit, helps to break down tissue and was for many years the major ingredient in Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. Also, because of its high alkalinity, it has been mentioned as beneficial to persons wishing to quit smoking.

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Grow Your Own Fig Tree

If you’d like to try growing an unusual fruit crop that’s scrumptious and almost trouble free, consider planting a fig tree. Figs will grow well unprotected in Zones 8–10, and also in colder areas if you choose hardier cultivars or give plants proper winter protection. Look for self-pollinating fig trees, as some figs are pollinated by tiny, specialized flies native to the Mediterranean and won’t set fruit without them. Reputable U.S. nurseries sell only self-pollinating figs. Also, try to find fig trees that have been grown in an organic manner.

Plant fig trees as you would any young tree. Keep in mind that fig trees can quickly reach 15 to 30 feet in height and the canopy can spread equally wide. Figs need a sunny spot that’s protected from winter winds. Mulch trees well with compost, and apply foliar sprays of seaweed extract at least once a month during the growing season.

For more information see Fig Trees: A Growing Guide.

Health Benefits of Figs

  • good source of potassium
  • good source of dietary fiber
  • lowers insulin
  • a fruit source of calcium
  • promotes bone density
  • helps prevent arthritis
  • may lower triglycerides
  • good source manganese
  • fig leaf tea is an effective home remedy for bronchitis & asthma
  • dependable laxative
  • good for weight management
  • helps high blood pressure
  • may help prevent dementia
  • regulates muscle function
  • high in certain amino acids – leucine, lysine, valine & arginine
  • highest overall mineral content of all common fruits
  • contains Omega-3 & Omega-6 essential fatty acids

Fresh Fig Salsa Recipe

Ingredient List – Always use organic ingredients

1 pound firm-ripe figs
2 fresh green onions, sliced crosswise
2 medium tomatoes; peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup peeled & diced mango
2 Tblsp finely chopped mint
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
2 Tblsp lime juice
1 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper – to taste

Wash, stem & dice figs to make 2 cups. Combine with remaining ingredients & chill several hours.

Research

  • Natural Product Research: Efficacy of Ficus spp. on Renal Injury Induced by Hypercholesterolaemia
  • California Fig Advisory Board: About Figs
  • Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. DASH Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 1997 Apr 17;336(16):1117-24. 1997.
  • Canal JR, Torres MD, Romero A, Perez C. A chloroform extract obtained from a decoction of Ficus carica leaves improves the cholesterolaemic status of rats with streptozotocin- induced diabetes. Acta Physiol Hung 2000;87(1):71-6. 2000. PMID:13400.
  • Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Jun;122(6):883-92. 2004. PMID:15197064.
  • de Amorin A, Borba HR, Carauta JP, et al. Anthelmintic activity of the latex of Ficus species. J Ethnopharmacol 1999 Mar;64(3):255-8. 1999. PMID:13410.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Ludwig DS, Pereira MA, Kroenke CH, et al. Dietary fiber, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in young adults. JAMA 1999 Oct 27;282(16):1539-46. 1999.
  • Pasman WJ, Saris WH, Wauters MA, et al. Effect of one week of fibre supplementation on hunger and satiety ratings and energy intake. Appetite 1997 Aug;29(1):77-87. 1997.
  • Perez C, Canal JR, Campillo JE, et al. Hypotriglyceridaemic activity of Ficus carica leaves in experimental hypertriglyceridaemic rats. Phytother Res 1999 May;13(3):188-91. 1999. PMID:13420.
  • Rubnov S, Kashman Y, Rabinowitz R, et al. Suppressors of cancer cell proliferation from fig (Ficus carica) resin: isolation and structure elucidation. J Nat Prod 2001 Jul;64(7):993-6. 2001. PMID:13390.
  • Sellmeyer DE, Schloetter DE, Schloetter M et al. Potassium citrate prevents urine calcium excretion and bone resorption induced by a high sodium chloride diet. J Clin Endo Metab 2002;87(5):2008-12. 2002.
  • Serraclara A, Hawkins F, Perez C, et al. Hypoglycemic action of an oral fig-leaf decoction in type-I diabetic patients. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 1998 Jan;39(1):19-22. 1998. PMID:13430.
  • Suzuki R, Rylander-Rudqvist T, Ye W, et al. Dietary fiber intake and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer defined by estrogen and progesterone receptor status–a prospective cohort study among Swedish women. Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):403-12. 2008. PMID:17764112.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.
Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. She has studied and performed extensive research in health science, natural hormone balancing, anti-aging techniques, nutrition, natural medicine, weight loss, herbal remedies, non-toxic cancer support and is actively involved in researching new natural health protocols and products.  A 14 year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness. Check out Oasis Advanced Wellness and our natural skin care site Oasis Serene Botanicals.
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