Sunday, 28 February 2010
BY CHINELO NWAGBO
THE history of figs could be traced back in time. The Bible and other ancient writings have mention of them. The Romans believed figs were a gift from Bacchus, the god of intoxication, and an apron of fig leaves covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness in the Garden of Eden (some scholars maintain that the forbidden fruit Eve picked was a fig, not an apple).
Dried figs are available throughout the year and they are prepared either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process.
Carbohydrates are the most significant nutrient in dried fig. Most of these carbohydrates are made up of monosaccharide or simple sugar (glucose and fructose) and a small portion of disaccharide (saccharose), which are broken down to provide energy to the body.
Dried figs are also good source of B group vitamins, potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, flavonoids and polyphenols, plant-based antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body.
Uses and preparation of dried figs
Dried. Dried fig is highly concentrated in sugar, vitamins and minerals. They are available all year round. Soaking dried fig overnight rehydrates them before eating.
Boiled in milk. Half–dozen dried figs cooked in a half-liter of milk is an excellent cough remedy and expectorant especially particularly if few spoonfuls of honey are added.
Fig cake: These are prepared from dried figs, almond nuts, and aromatic herbs. They provide a great deal of energy to the whole body.
Use in some recipes. Dried figs can simply be eaten, used in a recipe as is, or simmered for several minutes in water or fruit juice to make them plumper and juicier.
Health benefits/ healing power
Treat bronchial disorders
Rehydrated dried fig or dried figs boiled with milk have a pectoral (chest action) that fight against infections. They relieve cough, facilitate expectoration and soothe the respiratory tract. Their use is recommended in cases of chronic bronchitis as well as acute respiratory infection caused by cold and flu.
Helps lower high blood pressure (Hypertension): Low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially when coupled with a high intake of sodium, can lead to hypertension. Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Also, soluble fiber in figs binds with cholesterol containing substances and prevents their absorption by the blood thereby reduces or prevents hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol level).
Prevents obesity (excess fat in the body): Fig consumption produces a sensation of satiety or feeling of fullness in the stomach because of its high dietary fiber. Fiber and fiber-rich foods have a positive effect on weight management.
Promotes healthy bowel function (cures constipation): Rehyrated dried figs (dried figs that are soaked in water) can be used to cure constipation. Fiber in dried figs helps stimulate the peristalsis in the intestine and move the faeces.
Cures anaemia: This healing power is due to dried figs high iron content.
Prevents cardiovascular disease: Dried figs contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which help in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and improve immune function. They are also a good source of potassium, important in helping to regulate blood pressure.
Cures fatigue (tiredness): The sugar in dried fig is assimilated in the blood to provide energy to the body and prevents tiredness.
Protects against postmenopausal breast cancer
As with many fruits and vegetables, figs are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols, plant-based antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body that causes cancer. Also the insoluble fiber in figs protects against colon and breast cancer.
Bone density promoter (prevents osteoporosis)
Figs are good source of calcium a mineral that has many functions including promoting bone density. Additionally, figs’ potassium also counteracts the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets, thus helps to further prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate.