January 21, 2019
Fresh figs on a wooden cutting board

Figs: Ancient, Sweet, Nutritious

by Berkeley Wellness

One of the earliest foods to be cultivated, figs were prized as early as 2900 BCE for their medicinal value. They were also reputed to have been Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and a training food for Olympic athletes in ancient Greece. And where would prudish artists have been without the fig leaf? Fig trees were introduced to California in the 18th century by Spanish missionaries. To this day, California remains the most productive fig growing state.

Characterized by their sweet flavor and soft texture, figs consist of a pliable skin enclosing a sweet, fleshy interior filled with edible seeds. Interestingly, though most people think of the fig as a fruit, in reality it is a flower inverted into itself, with the blossom being the inside of the fruit, and the seeds being drupes, the “real” fruit.

Types of Figs

From Adriatic to Smyrna, fresh to dried, here are some of the most widely available types of figs.

Figs: nutrition

Both fresh and dried figs contain important nutrients. As with all dried fruit, dried figs are more nutrient-dense, as well as higher in calories, than fresh figs. All figs are an exceptional source of fiber due to the tiny seeds that fill the fruit. Their high fiber content helps to aid digestion and promote heart health, and their soluble pectin fiber helps lower cholesterol levels. Figs are also a source of potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6.

If you’re looking for a treat, fig bars are one of the healthiest cookie choices since they are relatively low in calories (100 calories in two fig bar cookies) and provide some fiber.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Fresh Figs and Dried Figs in the National Nutrient Database.

Figs: Cooking Tips and Recipe Ideas

Find out how to choose the best figs and use them in nine delicious dishes.

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