Dried Figs: Concentrated Nutrition
When fruits are dried, nutrients are naturally concentrated and the small packages make it easier to eat more. For instance, it's much easier to eat 30 raisins than it would be to eat 30 grapes. Which, in turn, makes it easier to eat larger amounts of nutrients. Dried figs are much the same. Whole, raw figs don't provide notable levels of nutrients. But the nutrient in dried figs quickly add up. Just a quarter cup of dried figs provides about four grams of fiber, vitamin K and a range of minerals.
Figs have been used a natural laxatives in historical medicine and are still used today for that purpose. What is it about figs that helps with intestinal function? It may be the fiber content or a component of the seeds consumed along with the fig that provides the laxative effects.
Dried figs provide a fair amount of potassium, magnesium and calcium. These minerals are part of the basis of the DASH Diet, a diet plan formulated to help people achieve and maintain healthy blood pressure. Eating a low-sodium diet that also includes lots of foods rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium has been shown to reduce high blood pressure.
Not for the Sulfite Sensitive
Dried figs, like many other dried fruits, are usually treated with sulfur dioxide to help preserve the figs and maintain color. If you are sensitive to sulfites, avoid figs or search for sulfite-free versions. Organic figs will not contain sulfites and are a good alternative.
Neglected Part of the Mediterranean Diet
In the 1950s, the Mediterranean diet was studied to help explain the low rates of heart disease in that region compared with other regions of the world. Today, a Mediterranean Diet is recommended as a heart-healthy diet and is based on healthy vegetable oils, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish. Figs are a common food of the real Mediterranean diet, but not mentioned when discussing the heart-healthy version of the diet. To recreate the Mediterranean diet more completely, don't leave out the fig.