This time of year, figs are appearing in a variety of holiday dishes ranging from salads to spreads. However, they’re desirable any time of the year and are delicious fresh or dried. Figs are not only tasty, but have a host of health benefits from helping with weight loss goals to playing a role in macular degeneration prevention.
Six Health Benefits of Figs:
Regulate Blood Pressure
Figs (black mission figs in particular) are naturally sodium-free. Who knew? Couple that with the fact that they are a good source of potassium and the fig is a great way to help reduce high blood pressure. High sodium diets often contribute to hypertension which can lead to more detrimental health issues such as stroke and heart problems. According to a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study, those who enjoyed a low sodium, high potassium diet lowered their blood pressure by an average of 5.5 over 3.0 points (systolic over diastolic).
For those wanting to lose weight or just keep their healthy weight in check, figs are an ideal source of fiber. In fact, figs are listed on the World’s Healthiest Foods web site, touted as an amazing food that stands out for its high fiber content. Fiber is not only healthy, but imparts a feeling of satiety that can help reduce the tendency to overeat. Additionally, approximately 3.75 ounces of figs are only 74 calories, making them a low-calorie choice for those watching their weight.
The fiber content in figs can help keep digestive issues at bay, bolstering bowel movement regularity and providing constipation relief. Be careful not to overindulge though; overconsumption of figs, like any food high in dietary fiber, may result in diarrhea or excessive bowel movements.
Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Benefits
Eating figs may ward off breast cancer in some women. One study involving over 50,000 postmenopausal women who ate an increased amount of fiber like that in figs, had a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk over those who consumed less. It’s thought that the fiber content in figs, in addition to its high levels of antioxidants, helps ward off cancers while promoting overall health.
Figs are a fruit source of calcium. In fact, 8 ounces (in weight) of figs contain 79 milligrams of the bone-strengthening mineral, leading to better bones and ultimately, the prevention of osteoporosis. Its potassium levels are also important, not just for blood pressure regulation, but for its role in preventing loss of calcium in urine which can lead to bone thinning.
According to The National Eye Institute, about 9 million Americans over 40 suffer from macular degeneration. Figs, which are high in vitamin A, are believed to preserve eyesight. Vitamin A is known improve eyesight, including age-related macular degeneration.
There are a variety of figs to choose from. The most common are black mission (sweet, purple/dark skin), adriatic (often referred to as “white” or “candy stripped” figs), brown turkey figs, calimyrna figs and kadota. They can be enjoyed fresh or dried. As with any food, choose organic whenever possible.