One of the most ubiquitous foods during the festive holiday season is the fig. After all, have you eaten figgy pudding at any other time of the year?
Thankfully for us, festive figs are a very healthy fruit with a plethora of health benefits.
Fig antioxidants can enrich lipoproteins in plasma, protect them from subsequent oxidation, produce a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity for four hours after consumption, and overcome the oxidative stress of consuming high-fructose corn syrup. In other words? They reverse the effects of concentrated sugars, even though they themselves are sweet!
Figs are a member of the Mulberry family and grow on the Ficus tree. The word “fig” has its origins from the Latin word “ficus,” as well as the older Hebrew name, “feg.” One of the “Seven Spices of Israel” and referenced in many religious texts as a sacred fruit, the fig is rich in nutrition and history.
For centuries, figs have been referenced in mythology and traditional medicine as a powerful sexual supplement. While they have yet to be adequately studied as an aphrodisiac in humans, some animal studies show figs can increase sperm count and motility. Additionally, they are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, and the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E.
The fig offers a unique combination of textures – chewy flesh, smooth skin, and crunchy seeds. California figs are typically harvested June through September. European varieties are available into the fall months. The majority of figs are dried fruits that can be enjoyed anytime of the year.
When selecting dried figs, they should be plump and soft. They will keep for long periods in a cool, dry place. When choosing fresh figs, which are beautifully delicate, select those with deep color, little bruising and sweet fragrance. Keep them in the fridge and plan to eat them in one or two days; don’t wash until ready to eat. If figs are not yet ripe, keep them at room temperature to ripen.
Figs can add a sweet sensation to just about any dish. But the high fiber can produce a laxative effect, so don’t over do.