Figs, commonly known as Anjeer in Hindi are a seasonal fruits that are found in the southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Portugal). Hence fig growing widely spread to other countries like the Germany, Canary Islands, England, China, Japan, South Africa, India and Australia. The Indian fig tree, Ficus bengalensis, is the National Tree of India.
Figs are part of a large family of tropical, subtropical, deciduous, and evergreen, vines and trees that belong to the mulberry family, specifically the Moraceae family. The most well known fig is the Ficus carica. This is a deciduous tree, having lined with numerous unisexual flowers. They need at least eight hours of sun a day and regular watering during the growing season. Edible fig trees produce about two crops a year. The fig tree can live as long as 100 years and grow to 100 feet tall.
Figs are not just an ugly fruit that fills a soft mass produced cookie but even it has a unique taste and texture. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds.
California figs are available from June through September and some European varieties are available through autumn. Although dried figs are available throughout the year in local markets.
Figs have several spiritual significance:
- The most important species of fig with spiritual importance is Sacred Fig tree (Pipal, Bodhi) and the Banyan. The oldest living plant known as the Sri Maha Bodhi planted in the temple at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by King Tissa in 288 BC.
- The common fig is one of the two sacred trees of Islam, and there is a sura in Quran named “The Fig” or At-Tin (سوره تین).
- The Buddha is traditionally held to have found enlightenment while meditating under a Sacred Fig.
- The same species was Ashvattha, the “world tree” of Hinduism.
- The Common Fig tree is cited in the Bible, the fig tree was sacred in ancient Cyprus where it was a symbol of fertility.
- There are several references in the Bible to figs being used to treat infections.
- The biblical quote “each man under his own vine and fig tree“
- One serving of dried figs is about 4 dried figs contain almost 70 calories.
- One serving of dried figs contains 13g of sugar.
- When dried, figs have their own benefits they have a high fiber, vitamin, and mineral content.
- Figs are one of the richest sources of calcium.
- According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs.
- Figs contain many antioxidants and are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, epicatechin and rutin.
- In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.
- Figs are good source of vitamin A, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2
- Figs are actually highly alkaline and contain a powerful healing agent. The alkalizing properties of the fig make it an anticancer.
- Fig juice is a cancer preventive can be drunk daily.
- Fiber content in figs give protection against breast cancer.
- The fig fruit contains a fairly potent bactericide; it reduces body heat, and helps to ease inflammation.
- Figs soothe mucous membranes, particularly in the respiratory system. The stem of the fresh fig fruit is antifungal, and can be used to treat warts.
- Fresh figs can soothe respiratory ailments by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent
- Figs also contain ficin, which aids in digestion .Digestive troubles can be eased by eating fresh figs after light meals or just prior to heavy meals. “This tip is especially for people who can’t tolerate milk. (Soak 2 figs in water overnight. Drink up the water in the morning and chew the figs well. This will ensure proper digestion and also helps people who have problems digesting milk).”
- It helps in healthy bowel function and prevents constipation.
- Ayurveda prevents and provides relief for piles, hemorrhoids and protrusion by facilitating regular, easy evacuation of the bowels with the help of figs. (Soak overnight in water then drink and consume figs in the morning).
- Roasted figs are helpful in treating painful boils and ulcers in the mouth.
- Figs can be used to make an excellent remedy for sore throats
- Figs contain Pectin, a soluble fiber. When fiber goes through the digestive system, it mops up globes of cholesterol and carries them out of body and reduces cholesterol level.
- Dried figs contain phenol, Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fatty acids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Figs are high in potassium but low in sodium. So, it helps to avoid hypertension.
- Weight loss, the fiber in figs also helps to reduce weight and is recommended for obese people.
- Figs also result in weight gain, especially when consumed with milk .
- Calcium helps to strengthen bones and increases bone density
- Figs contain iron; they are useful in treating anaemia.
- When fig is taken with milk, it can bring about improvement in anemic condition
- Eating of figs regularly can provide relief from fatigue and sleep disorders
- Eating figs can boost brain power and improvement in memory.
- Vision loss in older people is due to macular degeneration. Figs generally are good for avoiding this condition.
- Other than fruits its leaves are also beneficial, The American Diabetes Association recommends figs for a high fiber treat. Fig leaves reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetic patients who have to take insulin injection. Fig is rich in Potassium. Potassium helps to control blood sugar. Fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties
- Figs are known since ages for reducing sexual weakness. Soak 2-3 figs in milk overnight and eat them in the morning to enhance your sexual power. It also helps in gaining weight.
- People having high salt diet may be affected by increased urinary calcium loss. Potassium content in figs helps to avoid that.
- Dry figs help clear mucus from bronchial tubes and are therefore a valuable food remedy for asthma and also in phlegmatic cases.
- This is useful for treating acne and pimples. (Mash about fresh figs and apply them on face for 10-15 mins)
- People with diabetes should avoid eating dried figs, which is not good for diabetic people but can go with its leaves which are very helpful for sugar control.
- It should not be taken with milk if the patient has diarrhea.
- Fig leaves and un-ripened fruit produce white latex which can penetrate the skin causing burning discomfort.
- Eating fig fruit may also elicit allergic reactions ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, and itching of skin and mucus membranes in some sensitized in some individuals.
- Taking too much fig can cause diarrhea. D
- Dried figs are high in sugar and might cause tooth decay.
Figs are used in making jam, cakes, and many other sweets. It is a rich source of energy and all the other micro nutrients are found in sufficient amount as required by human body. It is useful for treating several diseases. But excess of everything is harmful so have it in under limit.
There is also an old phrase in Telugu which says ‘Medi pandu chuda melimayyi undunu, potta vippi chuda purugulundunu’, It means – ‘The fig fruit looks harmless but once you open you find tiny insects in there‘. The phrase is synonymous to an English phrase – ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.