We Go Way Back
Human beings have long savored the delicious, sweet taste and unique texture of figs. In fact, they were one of the first plants we cultivated. Archaeological evidence has shown that humans have been growing figs for more than 11,000 years.
They were held as sacred ancient Romans, and planted in temples by Sri Lankan royalty. The ancient Greeks even passed laws against exporting the best figs, so they could keep them for themselves. Romulus and Remus rested under a fig tree, and Adam and Eve wore the leaves, after eating the forbidden fruit.
And, while our ancestors may not have been able to measure the nutritional value of figs, other than by the feelings of satisfaction they got from eating them, it turns out that they are quite a healthy snack.
Rich in Potassium
Figs may help lower blood pressure. This is because they are rich in potassium. This mineral is not just good for the heart, it also helps nerves and muscles function better.
Ideally, our bodies should have a quarter the amount of sodium than we do potassium. However, because many of us eat such salty diets, most of us do not get nearly enough potassium. Figs, and other potassium rich foods can help to restore a healthier ratio.
Full of Fiber
Fiber does a body good, and figs are full of it. In fact, few plant-based foods can compete with the mighty fig for fiber content. Fiber is well-known as an aid to digestive health, but you might not know that it can also lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
One could hardly ask for a better source of calcium than figs. This essential mineral promotes bone density, prevents osteoporosis, counteracts PMS, and may even aid in the prevention of colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers.
Antioxidants, such as lutein, chlorogenic acid, and carotenes have been proven to prevent cell damage caused by cell oxidation. This type of damage has been implicated in a whole lineup of diseases. Guess which fruit has antioxidants in spades. That’s right: figs.
Fig Leaves: Not Just For Censoring Statues
It turns out that fig leaves have many of the same benefits offered by the fruit. In addition, they have been shown to reduce the amount of insulin diabetics need to control their blood sugar levels. Fig leaves have traditionally been used as a folk remedy for bronchitis and ulcers, and they have been shown to lower triglyceride levels in the body, a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and obesity.
[Photo credit: fineartamerica]