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Figs contain many different vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are important for the health of the body. Scientists are currently conducting ongoing research to determine the hidden benefits contained in figs.
Ficus is a genus containing approximately 850 different species of trees, epiphytes, hemiepiphytes, vines and shrubs.  Collectively, the group is known as figs or fig trees, and is indigenous to the tropics with a few species which extend into semi-warm temperate zones.  The fruit is a source of food for wildlife and of great importance throughout the tropics for worship and practical purposes.

figs.jpgWhere are Figs Grown and How to Grow Them?

The common fig is grown for the fruit throughout parts of Iran and Pakistan, Asia, Greece and Afghanistan, with Turkey leading in world production.  Other places figs are grown include Australia, Chile, South Africa, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and parts of the United States.

Fig trees are easy to propagate through several different methods; however, using seeds is not the best methods since vegetative methods are faster and more reliable.  Figs can be planted in either the spring or summer, root shoots should be planted in an area that receives adequate sunlight, soil should be well drained and plants can take several years to reach full maturity and yield fruit.

Nutrients Found in Figs

Figs are an excellent source of many vital minerals, vitamins and nutrients which can benefit the human body.  Some of the nutrients found in figs include; calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, choline, vitamin A, phosphorus and vitamin K.  Other trace nutrients found in the fruit are lutein, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, zinc, selenium and copper.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Figs

To best preserve the vital nutrients found in figs, it is best to serve the fruit raw and fresh.  Other ways of preparing figs are dried, roasted, added to salads and vegetable dishes, or pureed and added to a sauce or smoothie with other fruits.

Health Benefits of Figs

Figs are an excellent source of potassium which is essential controlling blood pressure, influences osmotic balance between cells and interstitial fluid, and important for brain and nerve function.  When the body is deficient in potassium and dietary intake of sodium is high, a person can develop hypertension and other cardiovascular complications.  Other problems related to insufficient potassium intake are muscle aches and twitches, electrocardiogram abnormalities, respiratory depression, decreased reflex response and cardiac arrhythmia.

Figs contain a high level of dietary fiber and can have a positive effect for those trying to maintain or lose weight.  Studies show that women who increased the level of fiber intake in the daily diet experienced a decrease in energy, but had a higher level of satiety throughout the day.

Researchers conducted a study involving more than 50,000 postmenopausal women for a period of 8.3 years and found a 34% decreased risk of breast cancer in those who consumed fruit fiber in the daily diet.  Additionally, in the subgroup of subjects it was determined that women who used hormone replacement therapy and consumed a high level of dietary fiber, particularly cereal fiber, had a 50% reduced risk of developing breast cancer.

Figs are also important for the health of the eye and vision, three or more daily servings of fruit in the diet can drastically cut the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).  A study conducted involving more than 100,000 subjects found that those who consumed a diet high in vitamin A, E and C, antioxidants and carotenoids upon the development of ARMD experienced a reduction in severity of vision loss. Fruits and vegetables when added as a regular part of a healthy diet protect the eye and vision from destructive diseases.  

In some cultures, fig leaves are considered to be edible and are a common dietary addition.  The leaves of a fig tree have been proven to have properties which are beneficial to diabetics and can reduce the amount needed by insulin-dependent subjects.  A recent study found that when a liquid fig leaf extract was consumed at breakfast, a diabetic subject was able to reduce the amount of insulin needed for daily injection.

Figs contain many different vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are important for the health of the body. Scientists are currently conducting ongoing research to determine the hidden benefits contained in figs and trying to learn about everything the fruit has to offer.