Figs are a great snack for those who have a sweet tooth. Figs are chewy, sweet fruits, while their seeds are crunchy, and like most plant foods, are cholesterol-free.
Figs provide more fibers, for the same amount that is served, as compared to almost other fruits. A serving of 3 figs can give your body with about 40-50% of the daily recommended fiber. Besides fiber, figs are also rich in antioxidant, calcium and potassium.
Dried figs are more often available in grocery stores, as compared to the fresh type which are easily perishable. Also, dried figs are equally good in terms of fiber content.
But, when buying dried fruits, figs included, choose ones that are sun-dried, so as to avoid the risk of consuming drying agents.
Health Benefits of Figs:
1. Lower Cholesterol
A study done by the University of Toronto showed that fiber intake is linked with lower cholesterol.
Figs have no cholesterol and no fat, but they contain lots of soluble fiber, the kind that helps in lowering LDL cholesterol, the bad one. How can figs do that? Figs contain high amount of soluble fiber.
Fiber is what gives plants their structure. It is present mainly in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds and whole grains.
This is the portion of plants that our systems cannot break down because they do not have the appropriate mechanisms to do so. Fiber can be insoluble and soluble, and most plant foods contain a combination of both.
Soluble fiber means that the fiber dissolves in water, and then forms a jelly-like paste along with other foods in the intestine. This is very important because it reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. Soluble fiber not only helps in lowering LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” guy, but it also raises HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” guy.
How Figs Help in Removing Cholesterol:
Bile, that is produced by the liver, is a substance necessary to break down the fat that is ingested in food.
To produce bile, the liver grabs the cholesterol from the blood, then converts it into bile, and sends it to the gallbladder and then stored until needed.
When you eat, the gallbladder sends the bile to the intestines to help in breaking down the fat portion of the food. Once the bile has done its job in the intestines, these things can happen:
If your meal contains enough soluble fiber, the fiber grabs the bile and takes it out of the body through the feces. Once the bile is is removed, the liver responds by getting more cholesterol from the blood to create new bile. The result therefore, is less cholesterol that are circulating in your system.
If your meal does not have enough soluble fiber, the bile is not taken out of the body. The liver does not need to get more cholesterol from the blood, to produce more bile because there is more available in the system. The result thefore, is more cholesterol that are navigating in your blood vessels.
Figs can stop cholesterol from even forming. When your meal includes soluble fiber, bacteria in the colon ferment it. This fermentation process makes compounds that help in the prevention of the formation of cholesterol. This results in lower levels of cholesterol that are navigating your blood vessels.
2. Lower High blood Pressure
Figs contribute high amounts of minerals including calcium, magnesium and potassium, 3 essential minerals for the health of your heart. Also, figs are very low in sodium, which is a major contributor to hypertension.
Therefore, by their mineral contribution, figs can help in lowering high blood pressure, which is a major risk for strokes and atherosclerosis.
How Figs Help Lower High blood Pressure
Potassium is important for the generation and transmission of nerve impulses, and for normal muscle activity. It is involved in the equilibrium of water outisde and inside your cells.
Remember that the heart is a muscle, and therefore needs adequate amount of potassium. Potassium contains diuretic properties, which is highly recommended in cases of hypertension. Figs are not recommended for individuals who require a control of potassium due to kidney disease.
Magnesium is important for the normal function of the nervous system and muscles such as the heart.
Calcium is a mineral that is needed not only to build strong bones, but to work with magnesium in the generation and transmission of nerve impulses of the cells and muscles.
Most individuals get their calcium supply from dairy products. But, figs are an excellent alternative, most especially for those who are lactose intolerant.