FIG: ONE FRUIT TO RULE THEM ALL

With health ben­e­fits rang­ing from strength­en­ing bone den­sity to healthy, shiny hair, figs are con­sid­ered the su­per­star of au­tumn and they can help your body pre­pare for the cold win­ter ahead

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Lifestyle -

FOR EVERY sea­son of the year there are sig­na­ture fruits and veg­eta­bles that help pre­pare our bod­ies for the times ahead. By au­tumn, our im­mune sys­tem be­comes more vul­ner­a­ble to dis­ease, pri­mar­ily be­cause we have less sun ex­po­sure and do not get enough Vi­ta­min D. How­ever, one fruit that comes into sea­son in the fall is al­most a heal­ing de­posit.

A NAT­U­RAL SWEET­ENER

The fig is the fruit of the fi­cus tree, a part of the mul­berry fam­ily (Mo­raceae). Figs have a unique, sweet taste and soft tex­ture. Lightly crunchy, the in­side of the fruit is filled with ed­i­ble seeds. How­ever, fresh figs are sen­si­tive and tend to spoil quickly and so they are of­ten dried or canned in the forms of jam and pre­serves. Dried figs are a sweet and nu­tri­tious fruit that you can en­joy year-round and there are many kinds in a wide va­ri­ety of col­ors and tex­tures. A small, bud­like open­ing on the top of the fig, known as an “os­ti­ole,” helps the fruit grow. Known for its nat­u­ral sweet­ness, the fig is said be have been used as a nat­u­ral sweet­ener be­fore the in­ven­tion of re­fined sug­ars.

RICH IN VI­TA­MINS A, E AND K

It is not ex­actly known when the fig tree ap­peared. How­ever, as one of the old­est trees in the world and the most im­por­tant ex­ported fruit in the Mid­dle East and Mediter­ranean re­gions, figs are high in min­er­als and sol­u­ble fiber con­tent, thus mak­ing the fruit highly pre­ferred by many coun­tries. Figs are also rich in min­er­als such as potas­sium, cal­cium, mag­ne­sium, Iron and cop­per, con­tain­ing an­tiox­i­dant Vi­ta­mins A, E and K. Here are the nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits of figs.

REG­U­LATE HIGH BLOOD PRES­SURE

Figs are a good source of potas­sium, a min­eral that helps reg­u­late blood pres­sure. Many peo­ple do not con­sume as much fruits and veg­eta­bles as they should, and when salt con­sump­tion is added, they are nour­ished rich in sodium. How­ever, high sodium lev­els can cause potas­sium de­fi­ciency in the body, and eat­ing in­ad­e­quate amounts of potas­si­um­rich foods can lead to hy­per­ten­sion.

Con­sum­ing low amounts of potas­sium-rich foods can cause hy­per­ten­sion, es­pe­cially when com­bined with high sodium in­take. In a study con­ducted by Di­etary Ap­proaches to Stop Hy­per­ten­sion (DASH), a group con­sumed veg­eta­bles, fruit and low-fat dairy prod­ucts in­stead of snacks and sweets. Af­ter ad­her­ing to this diet for some time, the sub­jects of the group showed higher lev­els of potas­sium, mag­ne­sium and cal­cium. As a re­sult, the study strength­ened the ar­gu­ment that figs also have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on blood pres­sure.

ADD FIGS TO YOUR DIET

Foods that are high in fiber can have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on weight man­age­ment and figs are a good source of di­etary fiber. In one study, women who in­creased their fiber in­take by tak­ing fiber sup­ple­ments sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced en­ergy in­take, but hunger and sati­ety scores did not change. There­fore, it can be said that figs have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on diet pro­grams. Con­sum­ing at least three figs per day can prove ben­e­fi­cial for weight loss.

PRO­TECT YOUR BODY FROM BREAST CAN­CER

Ac­cord­ing to a study con­ducted on menopausal women, the risk of breast can­cer is re­duced by 34 per­cent in women who con­sume fruits that are high in fiber. In ad­di­tion, the study in­di­cated that women who con­sume the most grain fiber had a 50 per­cent re­duc­tion in the risk of breast can­cer com­pared to those who con­sumed the least amount of fiber. The fruits that have the high­est level of fiber are ap­ples, figs, pears and plums.

FIG LEAF AGAINST DI­A­BETES

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, the leaves of the fig tree are ed­i­ble and, in some cul­tural tra­di­tions, fig leaves are con­sid­ered a com­mon part of the daily menu. Stud­ies have shown that fig leaves have an­tidi­a­betic prop­er­ties. In one study, the liq­uid ex­tract of fig leaves was added to the menu of in­sulin­de­pen­dent di­a­betic pa­tients and was shown to lower in­sulin lev­els.

FIGS PRO­TECT THE HEART

Stud­ies con­ducted on an­i­mals have shown that fig leaves lower triglyc­eride lev­els and pre­vent the growth of cer­tain can­cer cells. Ac­cord­ing to a study con­ducted at Rut­gers Univer­sity in New Jer­sey, dried figs con­tain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and phy­tos­terol (the oily sub­stance found in plants) and choles­terol-low­er­ing ac­tiv­ity. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can­not be pro­duced in the body and must be taken from food sup­ple­ments. It is known that fatty acids have many pos­i­tive ben­e­fits on car­dio­vas­cu­lar and brain health. Phy­tos­terol, on the other hand, blocks the path of choles­terol and al­lows it to be re­moved from the body with­out in­ter­fer­ing with the blood.

EAT FIGS TWICE A WEEK FOR HEALTHY HAIR

Fruits rich in Vi­ta­min C com­bat hair loss prob­lems and help keep hair healthy. Figs con­tain nu­tri­ents that pro­mote hair health, such as mag­ne­sium and Vi­ta­mins C and E, which help hair growth. The nu­tri­ents in this fruit stim­u­late blood cir­cu­la­tion in the body to speed up hair growth.

Figs con­tain a high amount of cal­cium which con­trib­utes to the for­ma­tion of col­la­gen that forms our hair and head skin. Figs are also very pop­u­lar in the hair care in­dus­try, and fig ex­tract is used in some hair creams, pro­vid­ing mois­ture to the scalp and slow­ing hair loss, while moist­en­ing the hair with­out ag­gra­vat­ing it.

Fig oil is ideal for wavy and curly hair, re­hy­drates the hair and makes it shinier. Add 10 drops of fig oil to a se­lected hair mask and ap­ply it to your hair. Wait an hour and then sham­poo as usual. Or, you can mix fig oil into your hair creams for silky, smooth hair. Af­ter sham­poo­ing, rinse your hair thor­oughly. You can also pro­mote hair health by con­sum­ing figs at least twice a week.

FIGS PRO­MOTE BONE STRENGTH

Figs have an ad­e­quate amount of cal­cium, which plays an ex­tremely im­por­tant role in bone de­vel­op­ment and strength. The amount of cal­cium in your body needs de­pends on your age, gen­der and phys­i­cal con­di­tion. The body re­quires higher lev­els of cal­cium es­pe­cially dur­ing lac­ta­tion, lac­ta­tion and pu­berty. The daily cal­cium re­quire­ment may be spec­i­fied as 1,000-1,500 mil­ligrams in ado­les­cents and adults and at least 1,500 mil­ligrams in preg­nant or lac­tat­ing women.

Milk and dairy prod­ucts are among the rich­est sources of cal­cium and con­sum­ing th­ese foods is ex­tremely im­por­tant for meet­ing your daily cal­cium needs. How­ever, you should not con­sume foods that re­duce their ab­sorp­tion si­mul­ta­ne­ously. If you con­sume prod­ucts such as black tea, choco­late, co­coa, pota­toes, pep­per, beans, car­rots, pars­ley, or­anges, straw­ber­ries, dried figs and rice along with cal­cium-rich nu­tri­ents, cal­cium ab­sorp­tion is re­duced.

AP­PLY FIG PASTE TO YOUR SKIN

Figs are not only a de­li­cious and healthy fruit, but also a won­der­ful nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ent for your per­sonal skin care rou­tine and can help you stay young and beau­ti­ful. Ap­ply­ing fig paste to the face al­lows im­por­tant nu­tri­ents to be trans­ported to the der­mal lay­ers of the skin. Mix a ta­ble­spoon of yo­gurt and two figs thor­oughly in a bowl, ap­ply this to your face and mas­sage your skin gen­tly for a few min­utes. Leave it on for 15 min­utes and then wash with warm wa­ter. You will no­tice that your skin has been re­newed. Ap­ply the mask once a week.

Is­tan­bul

Halit Yere­bakan, M.D.

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