Figs: how is so much nutrition packed into this tiny fruit?

Fresh figs are a delicious treat, best eaten on or after the day of purchase as they are quickly perishable. Equally at home in a salad, or with cheese or Parma ham, they can make for a decadent yet healthy dessert when combined with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Both fresh and dried figs are a great source of dietary fibre, with high-fibre diets lowering potential risks of colon cancer and heart disease, as well as aiding with weight management, helping us to feel full. Meanwhile studies have shown postmenopausal women who consume a high fibre diet had a 50% reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer in comparison to women who consumed the least. And as our digestive system relies on adequate amounts of fibre to function correctly, figs help here too, aiding pre-existing probiotic gut bacteria thus improving our digestive health.

Rich in vitamins, figs contain vitamins A, C, E, B and K as well as the minerals calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus – important for bones, hormone production and in regulating the heart.  Full of amino acids, compounds that combine to form proteins and are important for the breakdown of food, tissue and growth repair in the body, fresh figs are also a good source of poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein, tannins and chlorogenic acid.

When baking figs can be a great alternative to sugar; mash fresh figs or soak dried frigs and then pulse in a blender and use as a sugar substitute.

Note: as figs contain oxalates they should be enjoyed in moderation due to their laxative effect.

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