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Food Facts: Figs

Sunday, August 20th 2023 10:00am 4 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

The fig tree, often mentioned in the Bible as a symbol of peace and prosperity, has a rich history dating back to Neolithic times around 5000 B.C. Fragments of its fruit have been discovered in excavations from that era. Native to Western Asia or Egypt, figs were cultivated early on in the Middle East and Europe, eventually spreading to England and China by the mid-1600s. Spanish missionaries introduced fig orchards to
California in 1769, where they continue to thrive today.

With a wide variety of fig tree species belonging to the mulberry family, these trees typically reach heights of 10 to 30 feet and thrive in warm, dry climates. They are pollinated by tiny wasps, and their flowers are hidden inside, resulting in the development of numerous small seeds that contribute to the unique crunchy texture of figs.

Figs come in different colors, such as red, yellow, purple-skinned, or green-striped, each offering its own distinct flavor. However, before reaching optimal ripeness, figs contain “latex,” a sticky substance with skin irritants, necessitating protective measures for workers involved in fig production.

Dried figs are sometimes roasted and ground as a coffee substitute or used in the production of alcoholic beverages and tobacco flavorings. Due to their perishable nature, figs should be refrigerated if not consumed within a few days. They can be enjoyed as a standalone snack or incorporated, peeled or unpeeled, into various recipes. The seeds of figs add to their satisfying chewiness, and as they ripen, they provide higher levels of antioxidants.

Figs offer numerous health benefits. They are rich in fiber and serve as a good source of essential minerals like magnesium, manganese, calcium (beneficial for bone density), and potassium (helps lower blood pressure). They also contain vitamins, particularly K and A, as well as folate and choline. The nutritional value of figs increases when they are dried, and they can be stored for a longer period. For instance, dried figs contain significantly more calcium compared to fresh figs, but it’s important to monitor the consumption of dried figs due to their higher sugar content.

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