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Figs: A Fabulous Fiber Find

by Bree West

Figs grow on the ficus tree, which is a member of the mulberry family. They are unique because they have an opening called an "eye" that is not connected to the tree, but helps the fruit to develop and communicate with the environment. Figs are fruits with a sweet and unique taste, a chewy fleshy portion, and crunchy seeds. Fresh figs are quite delicate and quickly spoil; therefore, they are typically dried. They come in a range of colors depending on the variety. There are more than 150 varieties, but the most popular are adriatic, black mission, kadota, calimyrna, and brown turkey figs.

The first cultivated fig tree dates back as early as the first historical documents and has references in the bible. The fig tree is native to the Middle East and Mediterranean area and is thought to have been cultivated in Egypt. It was later taken to Greece, where it was highly regarded; laws were even created that prevented the exportation of the finest figs. They were later introduced to the Mediterranean area where they were then taken to the West by the Spaniards. Today, California is one of the prime locations for fig production.

Figs are recommended as a good food to help tone the intestines because they are a good source of fiber. This high fiber content also makes them a great food for cleansing the bowels, and maintaining regularity, and preventing constipation and diarrhea. Getting enough fiber in the diet to promote regular bowel movements is a very essential part of preventing colon cancer, currently the third most common and deadly cancer in the United States for both men and women. The fiber content also helps to slow gastric emptying (the rate that food leaves the stomach) and keep blood sugar levels steady.

figs_good_source_of_potassium_picFigs are also a good source of potassium, an important mineral for helping to control blood pressure. Studies have shown that people who eat high amounts of potassium not only have lower blood pressure, but they also have less risk of related conditions such as stroke. Potassium helps lower blood pressure by helping to prevent the dangerous low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol from accumulating on the artery walls. It also removes extra sodium from inside the cells, which helps keep the body's fluid levels in balance and blood pressure in check.

Like dates, figs are a highly alkaline food, helping to balance blood pH levels. This is of particular benefit, because cancer is among the top killer in America, and cancer cells can only grow in an acidic environment. Therefore, if body pH levels are kept in balance, then cancer cells die. Fig leaves have many times been seen to have anti-diabetes benefits and can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by those with diabetes who need insulin injections. In one study, a liquid extract made from fig leaves was added to the breakfast of an insulin-dependent person, and it was found that less insulin was needed when the fig leaf extract was taken. Fig leaves have also been shown to lower triglyceride levels, though the exact mechanisms of how this occurs is not yet fully understood by scientists.

Figs are high in natural simple sugars, minerals, and fiber. They are also good sources of potassium, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.

Raw Fig Newtons


  • 1 cup figs
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup raw rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp honey

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