Dried figs are a healthy snack option, and they can be enjoyed as part of a meal or as a standalone snack. However, some people may be concerned about the health effects of eating dried figs. This article will explore dry figs, including their nutritional value, and provide information on the health benefits and risks associated with consuming them.
What Are Dry Figs?
Dried figs are the dry version of fig fruit.
Figs also known as anjeer are edible fruits that come from the Ficus tree. They originate from West Asia and the Mediterranean region. Generally, figs are cultivated in warm and dry-like regions, with most figs coming from California.
They have a bell-like shape with wrinkly leather-like skin. They come in various colors, including green, brown, purple, black, and sometimes yellow. Figs have a jam–like taste with a flavor mix between currant, date, and strawberry.
On the inside, figs have an enclosed flower head with tiny flowers containing small seeds.
There are numerous types of figs, but the common ones include:
Black mission figs: These are mainly known for their sweet taste. They have dark purple skin with a dark pink inside.
Kadota figs: They resemble a teardrop shape and are commonly used for cunning. Kadota figs have yellow-green skin with a pink-brown inside, and they are not as sweet as mission figs.
Calimyrna figs: These are large in size with green skin and bright pink on the inside. These figs are known for their signature nuttier flavor.
Brown turkey figs: These have purple-brown skin with red flesh. They are also large but have a mild taste compared to other varieties.
Adriatic figs: These are pale, yellow-green on the outside and vibrant pink-red on the inside. They also have the strongest flavor than other varieties.
All figs are considered high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, with a slight variation between dry and fresh figs. When consumed regularly, figs (both fresh and dry) can offer numerous health benefits.
Figs are only available in season, and they are very delicate to keep fresh for long. So drying them is the best way to consume your figs all year round. Besides, they are still nutritious and can boost various nutrients in the body.
Dry Fig Nutrition
A cup of dry figs provides about:
- Calories: 371
- Protein: 4.9 grams
- Fat: 1.4 grams
- Carbs: 95.2 grams
- Fiber: 14.6 gram
- Vitamin K: 23.2mcg, or 29 percent of the daily requirement
- Copper: 0.4mg, or 2 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 101mg, or 25 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 1013mg, or 29 percent of the daily requirement
- Riboflavin: 0.1mg, or 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Thiamine: 0.1mg, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 1.8mg, or 3 percent of the daily requirement
- Panthothenic acid: 0.6mg, 06 6 percent of the daily requirement
- Calcium: 241mg, or 24 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 3.0mg, or 17 percent of the daily requirement
- Phosphorus: 99.8mg, or 10 percent of the daily requirement
- Manganese: 0.8mg, or 38 percent of the daily requirement
Why It’s Healthy To Eat Dry Figs
1. They are rich in powerful antioxidants
Antioxidants are important molecules that protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and tissues in the body. Antioxidants help neutralize these free radicals and prevent damage from happening.
Figs are generally high in antioxidants, but dry figs are especially high in polyphenol compounds that have been shown to be more powerful in fighting oxidative stress from free radicles than their fresh counterparts.
2. Anticancer properties
The antioxidant ability of dry figs helps prevent cell damage that may cause cell damage, which may lead to mutations causing cancer to develop.
Besides, figs have traditionally been used to treat various ailments, including cancer. According to a study by the Department of Natural Medicinal Chemistry at China Pharmaceutical University, some compounds in figs may be toxic to some human cancer cells
3. Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
The polyphenols in figs have been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain and protect against Alzheimer’s disease. This protective mechanism may be one reason that those on a Mediterranean diet, which includes figs, have been found to have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that fig consumption reduces cognitive decline by stimulating the production of proteins associated with memory and learning.
4. Boosts heart health
Dry fig is rich in potassium, which makes the muscles within the heart more contractile. This may result in an improvement in one’s heart function. Potassium can also lower blood pressure and improve blood flow, keeping your heart healthy. Dry fig also contains flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
5. Dry figs can boost the immune system
Dry figs are a great way to strengthen the immune system. They contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, which can help to fight off infections. Figs also contain fiber, which can help regulate gut bacteria. This can help improve overall digestive health and boost the immune system.
6. They are rich in fiber
Dry figs are a great source of fiber. They contain about 15 grams of fiber per cup, which is more than many other fruits. Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. It helps improve digestion by moving food through the digestive system more quickly. Fiber also helps to reduce the amount of sugar that is absorbed from food. This can help to control blood sugar levels and help to keep the weight off in the long run.
7. Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other problems. It’s common in people of all ages, but it’s especially common in people over 50. There are many ways to lower your blood pressure, including adding dry figs to the diet.
Dry figs are an excellent source of potassium, which plays an important role in lowering blood pressure.
8. Increases bone density
Calcium is an important mineral that helps create and maintain strong bones. It also helps form and strengthens connective tissue, which supports the bones. With a cup of dry figs providing up to 24 percent of your daily calcium requirement, they can be a great calcium source.
Dry figs are also high in vitamin K, another essential nutrient for bone health. Vitamin K promotes bone mineralization and helps in the production of proteins responsible for the formation of new bone cells.
Other nutrients like phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and potassium can also help promote strong and healthy bones
9. Lowers cholesterol
Dry figs are rich in soluble fiber, which helps eliminate cholesterol by preventing its absorption into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol particles in the intestines, which helps eliminate it through stool.
How To Dry Figs
If you’re considering drying your own, there are many different ways to dry figs, so it is best to try a few different methods and see which ones work best for you. Here are some tips on how to dry figs:
How to dehydrate figs
You can easily dry your figs in 3 ways, including in the sun, dehydrator, or oven. But before that, ensure you have well-ripened figs that have been cleaned and patted dry. An easier way to tell whether a fig is ripe is if it falls to the ground.
Drying Figs In A Dehydrator
- Rinse your figs, pat them dry, trim off the stems, and cut them into quarters
- Arrange them with cut-part-up on the dehydrator trays
- Don’t put them too close to allow room for air to circulate around them
- Let them dehydrate for 6-8 hours and check if they are dry to touch
- When the figs are done, remove the dehydrator tray and place it on a heat-resistant surface.
- Allow them to cool then store them in an air-tight container
Drying Figs In The Oven
- Clean your figs, pat them dry, and trim off any damaged parts. Slice them in half from the stem to the tip (without dividing the fruits completely)
- Lay them the cut-side-up on a wire rack rather than a baking tray. The wire rack provides ventilation spaces to allow the figs to dry evenly from above and below.
- Set your oven to the lowest temperature ( ideally 140 degrees Fahrenheit or lower)
- Put the figs in the oven for up to 6 hours or until dry.
- Once in a while, open the oven door to allow the moisture to escape to prevent the figs from becoming too hot and cooking instead of drying.
- You can also keep the oven on only halfway through, then turn it off for a few hours before turning it back on. Remember to turn your figs occasionally.
- Ensure the figs are completely dry (they should have leathery skin and be dry upon squeezing) and allow them to cool.
- Place them in an airtight container for up to 3 months
How To Dry Figs In The Sun
- Cut your figs in half on a chopping board from the stem to the tip. Cutting them will help spread up the process of drying.
- On a wooden rack or wire, spread a clean cheesecloth and lay the cut figs on top. If you don’t have cheesecloth, ensure you use something that will allow free air movement below and above, so avoid anything like a baking sheet.
- Once you’ve arranged the cut figs on the surface, cover them with another cheesecloth to protect them from insects and other contaminants as they dry.
- Place the wrack in full sunlight during the day. This will allow them to dry quickly for preservation before they are spoilt. Remember to bring them inside each evening until the next day. This will help protect them from dew.
- Dry the figs for 2-3 days, always turning them to ensure they dry evenly. You’ll know they are ready when they develop leathery skin and nothing comes out upon squeezing.
Likewise, you can dry whole figs by arranging them on a wooden skewer and hanging them in the sun using clothespins to attach them to a clothesline or branches on a tree.
Store them in an air-tight container in the freezer or fridge. They can last for several months in the fridge and up to 3 years in the freezer.
Easy Ways To Eat Dry Figs
Dry figs may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re ready to eat a sweet treat, but they’re much more versatile than you might think! These easy ways to eat dry figs will show you just how tasty this healthy fruit can be. Whether you’re having breakfast, brunch, or dessert, dried figs are here to help you out.
Blend them up in a smoothie
Adding dried figs to smoothies makes them more filling and satisfying. They also add a delightful flavor that is perfect for summertime. Try adding one or two figs to your next smoothie for a delicious change.
Chop them and add to salads
Dry figs are a wonderful addition to salads. Add a handful of chopped figs to your favorite green salad and top with walnuts, dried cranberries, and arugula. The sweetness from the figs will contrast nicely with the savory ingredients in this dish.
Top them on oatmeal
Adding dried figs to your oatmeal is a great way to add flavor and nutrients to your breakfast. Figs are high in fiber and vitamin C, which will help you stay fuller longer. They’re also a good source of potassium, which helps to keep your blood pressure stable. Dried figs are also a good source of antioxidants, which can help fight off harmful compounds in the body. Soaked overnight in milk and cinnamon, they make a delicious and nutritious overnight oats recipe.
If you love the taste of figs but worry about their high sugar content, you can rest easy knowing that there are some surprising health benefits of eating dry figs. Not only do they provide fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly, but they also contain minerals and antioxidants that promote good heart health and have anti-cancer properties.
Figs can even help strengthen bones and lower cholesterol levels.
Besides, you can easily dry your figs from the comfort of your home through the sun, oven, and dehydrator. Plus, they are very easy to incorporate into the diet.
Other Related Posts
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- Dry Fruits Benefits
- 36 Vegan Picnic Ideas
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- Benefits Of Apricots
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