The edible fig has been around since ancient times – they’re soft, juicy, and a little crunchy as they’re full of tiny seeds. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are delicious and nutritious. Dried figs are more readily available and taste much sweeter.
Fresh figs contain a wide variety of vitamins, but only in fairly small quantities. However, when it comes to essential dietary minerals, figs are incredibly nutritious, with high levels of essential elements like potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium and manganese. This is a good reason for eating them, and they can contribute to all- round good health. In particular they may support healthy digestion, decrease your risk of heart disease, and help manage blood sugar levels.
Drying figs concentrates these nutrients by lowering the water content; so if we compare the same weight of dried and fresh figs, the dried ones are much higher in dietary fibre, iron, and other minerals. Some vitamins can be destroyed by the drying process, so fresh figs are higher in vitamin C and vitamin A. Dried figs are, by weight, considerably higher in sugar and kilojoules than fresh figs, so they should be eaten in moderation.
Figs are high in dietary fibre, so they’re very good for the digestive system; some people find that they’re particularly helpful for managing constipation. The downside to that is that they can cause diarrhoea – particularly dried figs – so try adding them to your diet gradually so that you can monitor and manage any ill-effects.
Figs are high in vitamin K, which is a vitamin that helps control the way blood clots. This is essential in a healthy diet, but people who take certain blood thinners such as warfarin should aim to keep levels of vitamin K in their diet fairly consistent.
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