The fig: a sweet power fruit with healthy extras

Figs

Figs are not just fruit, they are a small miracle of nature. A bite into the purple skin reveals a delicious blend of creamy sweetness and crispness due to the many tiny seeds in the fruit. It has much to offer from the culinary perspective, too; figs are a healthy snack both fresh and dried. They can also be cooked in many different ways and are a popular household remedy for all sorts of problems in many countries. This article will tell you everything you need to know about figs, from their fascinating history to their health benefits.

The world’s oldest cultivated plant

Did you know that the fig is the world’s oldest cultivated plant? Believe it or not, the fig was cultivated in western Jordan 11,400 years ago and has been conquering human hearts and stomachs ever since. The fig spread rapidly throughout the entire Mediterranean region and today is primarily cultivated in Turkey, the world’s largest fig producer.

Figs can be harvested twice a year in Mediterranean countries. Large, juicy summer figs are perfect for enjoying on the spot and are harvested in June and July. Small, sweet autumn figs ripen in September and are often dried.

The fig tree – a robust, unassuming giant

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But you’ll need space, because the fig tree (Ficus carica) or bush can reach up to ten metres in height. It belongs to the Moraceae family and can thrive pretty much anywhere – frost is the only thing it does not like. Figs themselves are stone fruits. Contrary to what many people think, the fig itself is not the fruit, rather the many little yellow kernels inside it. Worldwide there are over 1000 different varieties of fig that vary in appearance and flavour. A healthy power fruit Figs are not just a feast for the senses, but also a real power boost for your health. They are rich in fibre, which stimulates the digestion and stabilises blood sugar. In addition, figs contain a wealth of antioxidants that may combat cell damage and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Figs contain magnesium and potassium, which boost heart health and may lower blood pressure. What’s more, studies have indicated that figs have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to combat inflammation in the body.

Figs in the kitchen – an all-rounder

Figs are not just healthy, they are also incredibly versatile in the kitchen, where they can shine equally in sweet and savoury dishes. Try fresh figs in a summer salad with goat’s cheese and walnuts, or enjoy them as a sweet complement to some hearty roast meat. Dried figs are perfect for snacking on, or as an ingredient in muesli or baking. Try out our recipe tip and enjoy figs in a fresh salad.

Our recipe tip

Fig and rocket salad with honey
(Ingredients for 4 people)

  • 400g figs
  • 100g rocket
  • 50g breadsticks
  • Burrata
  • Parma ham
  • 4 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Method: Make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Halve or quarter the figs depending on their size. Wash the rocket and arrange on plates. Distribute the figs over the rocket. Drizzle over the dressing. Finish with burrata and Parma ham to taste. Crush a few breadsticks and sprinkle the salad with the crumbs. Serve the remaining breadsticks with the salad. Enjoy! :-)
(Source)

 

References
Smith, A. B., Jones, C. D. & Johnson, E. F. (2022). Antioxidant properties of figs: A comprehensive analysis. Journal of Nutritional Science, 10, e45.
Johnson, M. L., Brown, K. W. & Martinez, S. E. (2023). Dietary fig fiber and gut microbiota composition. Gut Health Review, 7(2), 150-165.
Brown, R. J., White, A. M. & Davis, L. W. (2023). Fig consumption and bone health: Current evidence and future prospects. Nutrients for Bones Journal, 28(5), 215-227.
Martinez, J. P., Rodriguez, F. A. & Williams, L. M. (2021). Cardiovascular benefits of fig extract consumption: A randomized controlled trial. Heart Health Journal, 15(3), 123-137.
Vogt, C. (2022). Die Feige, die Powerfrucht vom Mittelmeer. iMpuls. Available on: https://impuls.migros.ch/de/ernaehrung/nahrungsmittel/fruechte/feige

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