Monday, 7 January 2013

Benefits of Figs or Anjeer


Fig fruits are bell-shaped, with a wide, flat bottom narrowing to a pointed top. When the fruit ripens, the top may bend, forming a "neck." Figs can be brown, purple, green, yellow or black, and vary in size. The skin is slightly wrinkled and leathery. They are often dried for preservation, since the fresh fruits are highly perishable. The fig flowers develop inside the fruit and cannot be seen.


Fig fruit nutrition facts
Delicious, sweet fig fruit is one of the prime fruits enjoyed since antiquity in the human history. Fig is naturally rich in much health benefiting phyto-nutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins. Dried figs, in fact, are concentrated source of minerals and vitamins. The fully ripe fig has bell or pear shape with succulent flesh.
Botanically figs belong to the mulberry family (Moraceae), of the genus: Ficus. Scientific name: Ficus carica.
Fig fruit tree is native to temperate climate of Asia Minor or present day Turkey and today is grown as important fruit of commerce in the eastern Mediterranean region, USA, Spain. However, it is also cultivated as a fruit tree in home gardens. During each season, the tree bears several hundred pear-shaped fruits twice a year, which vary in size and color depending on the variety.
Interiorly, the fig fruit features numerous club shaped ovaries protruding towards central hollow cavity. In their natural habitat, “caprifigs” are pollinated by a tiny gall wasp (Blastophaga grossorum) that enters the flower cluster through a small opening in the apex.
Several cultivars exist; some of the popular varieties commonly grown in the USA are Brown Turkey, Conadria, Kadota, and Black mission. However, since the wasp is not present in North America, most of these fruits do not have true seeds, and they develop by parthenogenesis (without pollination).

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Fig fruit (Ficus carica),
Nutrition Value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle
Nutrient Value
Percentage of RDA
Energy
74 Kcal
4%
Carbohydrates
19.18 g
15%
Protein
0.75 g
1.5%
Total Fat
0.30 g
1%
Cholesterol
0 mg
0%
Dietary Fiber
2.9 g
7%
Vitamins
Folates
6 µg
1.5%
Niacin
0.400 mg
2.5%
Pantothenic acid
0.300 mg
6%
Pyridoxine
0.113 mg
9%
Riboflavin
0.050 mg
4%
Thiamin
0.060
5%
Vitamin A
142 IU
5%
Vitamin C
2 mg
3%
Vitamin E
0.11 mg
1%
Vitamin K
4.7 µg
4%
Electrolytes
Sodium
1 mg
0%
Potassium
232 mg
5%
Minerals
Calcium
35 mg
3.5%
Copper
0.070 mg
8%
Iron
0.37 mg
5%
Magnesium
17 mg
4%
Manganese
0.128 mg
5.5%
Selenium
0.2 µg
<1%
Zinc
0.15 mg
1%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß
85 µg
--
Lutein-zeaxanthin
9 µg
--

Health benefits of figs

The health benefits of figs or anjeer include treatment of sexual weakness, constipation, indigestion, piles,diabetes, cough,bronchitis, and asthma. It also helps in gaining weight after illness.

§  Fig fruit is low in calories. 100 g fresh fruits provide only 74 calories. However, they contain health benefiting soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely for optimum health and wellness.
§  Dried figs are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. In fact, dried fruits are concentrated sources of energy. 100 g dried figs provide 249 calories. 
§  Fresh figs, especially black mission, are good in poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants such ascarotenes, lutein, tannins, chlorogenic acid...etc. Their anti-oxidant value is comparable to that of apples at 3200 umol/100 g.
§  In addition, fresh fruits contain adequate levels of some of the anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and K. Altogether these phyto-chemical compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen derived free radicals from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.
§  Furthermore, research studies suggest that chlorogenic acid in these berries help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus (Adult onset) condition.
§  Fresh as well as dried figs contain good levels of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors for metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
§  Dried figs are excellent source minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. 100 g of dried figs contain 640 mg of potassium, 162 mg of calcium, 2.03 mg of iron and 232 mg of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation.

Sexual weakness: Figs are known since ages for reducing sexual weakness. Soak 2-3 figs in milk overnight and eat them in the morning to enhance your sexual power. It also helps in gaining weight.


Selection and storage

Figs are available all around the season; however, they are best from May through November. One may find fresh as well as dried figs in the markets. While buying fresh-figs look for ripe fruits, which are soft in hand and emit a sweet aroma.
Avoid overtly soft, bruised, fungus inflicted fruits. Similarly unripe green fruits as they are astringent and out of flavour.
Fig fruits perish rather very quickly and eaten while they are fresh or else should be placed in the refrigerator where they keep well for 2-3 days. Place them in a plastic or zip pouch and store in the refrigerator set with high relative humidity. However, dried figs can stay for 6-8 months.

Preparation and serving tips

Figs must be allowed to ripen fully on the tree before they are picked. They can be enjoyed fresh, and after sun or artificial drying.

To eat fresh fruits wash them in cold water, mop them dry gently using soft cloth or tissue. One may eat fresh-figs whole, or peeled. If taken out from the cold storage, place in a bowl of water to bring them back to normal room temperature to enrich their taste and palatability.
Here are some serving tips:
·         Sweet, succulent fig fruit is best enjoyed as it is without any additions.
·         Fresh figs are a great addition to salad, in cakes and ice creams.
·         Dried ones can be added to soup, stews and to enrich poultry, venison, lamb meat.
·         Dry figs are excellent additions to muffins, cakes, sandwiches, pies, and cheesecakes.
·         Enjoy marinated figs with raspberry sauce.

Safety profile

Fig leaves and un-ripened fruit produce white latex, which can penetrate the skin causing burning discomfort. Fig latex contains several compounds like furocoumarins, 5-methoxypsoralen (5-MOP)...etc, which can elicit cell-mediated allergic-reactions. If left untreated, it might lead to severe allergic eruptions all over the exposed parts.
Eating fig fruit may also elicit allergic reactions ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, and itching of skin and mucus membranes in some sensitized individuals. It is therefore, people with history of allergy to figs may be advised to avoid eating them. 

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