Eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables every day!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Figs

Figs, one of mankind’s oldest fruits, is only now receiving its due attention in homes across the United States. Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower inverted into itself. They are the only fruit to ripen on the tree. Originally native from Turkey to northern India, the fig fruit spread to many of the Mediterranean countries. 


When you think of potassium-rich produce, figs probably don’t come to mind, but you may be surprised to learn that six fresh figs have 891 mg of the blood pressure-lowering mineral, nearly 20% of your daily need—and about double what you’d find in one large banana. In a recent 5-year study from the Netherlands, high-potassium diets were linked with lower rates of death from all causes in healthy adults age 55 and older. Figs are one of the best fruit sources of calcium, with nearly as much per serving (six figs) as 1/2 cup of fat-free milk. Serve by chopping and adding to yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or green salads. Or enjoy them as a savory snack: Cut a slit in the side and stuff with 1/2 teaspoon of a low-fat version of a soft cheese such as ch√®vre or Brie.



The primary producers of dried figs today are the United States, Turkey, Greece, and Spain. This highly nutritious fruit arrived in the United States by Spanish missionaries settling in Southern California in 1759. Fig trees were soon planted throughout the state.

Figs
Serving Size 1/2 cup raw (74g)

Amounts Per Serving% Daily Value
Calories 90
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0g0%
 Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g8%
  Dietary Fiber 2g7%
  Sugars 11g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A15%
Vitamin C25%
Calcium0%
Iron2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


Here some health benefits of figs:

  1. Figs are a fantastic source of vitamin B6. B6 is responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin, lowering cholesterol and preventing water retention.
  2. Figs are very high in dietary fiber, which makes them an ideal weight-loss aid. Fiber creates a feeling of satiety, or fullness, which means that you will feel more full and eat less. Fiber also regulates the digestive system and alleviates the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a common female ailment.
  3. Fruit fiber from figs and other fruits has been shown to help prevent breast cancer in pre-menopausal women and also protects against age-related macular generation that leads to vision loss.
  4. The high calcium content of figs promotes bone density and can guard against osteoporosis, another common female ailment.
  5. Figs are one of the most alkaline fruits; alkalized foods and water are important for a balanced system since most of us consume a highly acidic diet in an acidic environment.
  6. One serving of figs (three large figs) provides 14% of your daily value of manganese, a very important trace mineral that most women are severely lacking in their diets.
  7. Figs are an excellent source of potassium, a necessary mineral for the active woman to insure than her muscles work well and are cramp-free.
Varieties
There are hundreds of fig varieties but the following are most commonly found in today’s markets.
  • The Calimyrna Fig: Is known for its nut-like flavor and golden skin. This type is commonly eaten as is.
  • The Mission Fig: Was named for the mission fathers who planted the fruit along the California coast. This fig is a deep purple which darkens to a rich black when dried.
  • The Kadota Fig: Is the American version of the original Italian Dattato fig, that is thick-skinned with a creamy amber color when ripe. Practically seedless, this fig is often canned and dried.
  • The Brown Turkey Fig: has copper-colored skin, often with hints of purple, and white flesh that shades to pink in the center. This variety is used exclusively for the fresh fig market.
  • Fig varieties and photos courtesy of the California Fig Advisory Board

Availability
Fresh figs are available July through September. Dried figs are never out of season, and are available all year. You can find them in your favorite grocery store in the produce or dried fruit section.

Selection
Look for figs that are soft and smell sweet. Handle carefully because their fragile skins bruise easily.
Storage
Store fully ripened figs in the refrigerator up to 2 days; bring to room temperature before serving.
Using Dried Figs As a Replacement For Fat in Your Recipes
Dried figs are excellent replacement for fat in baked goods. Just remember when using dried figs to replace shortening or oil in baking do not overmix or overbake. Use only half of the normal amount of shortening, margarine, butter or oil, in a recipe when using dried puree. For instance, if 1 cup of margarine is called for, use only ½ cup. Then use ½ of the fig puree. Here’s a simple fig puree recipe to include in your baking recipes.
Fig PureeMakes about 1½cups
Ingredients
2 cups dried figs
¾ cup water
2 tsp vanilla
Puree figs, water and vanilla in blender or food processor. Use as directed.
Nutritional analysis per serving:  Calories 178, Protein 2g, Fat 1g, Calories From Fat 4%, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 44g, Fiber 9g, Sodium 9mg.


Recipes


Fig Banana SmoothieMakes 4 servings

Each serving equals 1 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: California Fig Advisory Board
Ingredients

1 cup chopped dried figs (stems removed)
1 cup 1-inch banana slices
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
3 cups crushed ice
1 Tbsp honey
mint leaf or berry garnish
Place all ingredients except garnish in a blender (not a food processor), and blend until smooth, approximately 2-3 minutes. Strain liquid and pour into tall, chilled glasses. Add garnish.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 200, Fat 1g, Calories From Fat 5, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 49g, Fiber 6g, Sodium 40mg, Sugars 36g.

1 raw fig -- vitamins
Amounts Per Selected Serving
%DV
Vitamin A
90.9
IU
2%
Retinol
0.0
mcg
Retinol Activity Equivalent
4.5
mcg
Alpha Carotene
0.0
mcg
Beta Carotene
54.4
mcg
Beta Cryptoxanthin
0.0
mcg
Lycopene
0.0
mcg
Lutein+Zeaxanthin
5.8
mcg
Vitamin C
1.3
mg
2%
Vitamin D
~
~
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)
0.1
mg
0%
Beta Tocopherol
~
Gamma Tocopherol
~
Delta Tocopherol
~
Vitamin K
3.0
mcg
4%
Thiamin
0.0
mg
3%
Riboflavin
0.0
mg
2%
Niacin
0.3
mg
1%
Vitamin B6
0.1
mg
4%
Folate
3.8
mcg
1%
Food Folate
3.8
mcg
Folic Acid
0.0
mcg
Dietary Folate Equivalents
3.8
mcg
Vitamin B12
0.0
mcg
0%
Pantothenic Acid
0.2
mg
2%
Choline
3.0
mg
Betaine
~

1 raw fig -- minerals
Amounts Per Selected Serving
%DV
Calcium
22.4
mg
2%
Iron
0.2
mg
1%
Magnesium
10.9
mg
3%
Phosphorus
9.0
mg
1%
Potassium
149
mg
4%
Sodium
0.6
mg
0%
Zinc
0.1
mg
1%
Copper
0.0
mg
2%
Manganese
0.1
mg
4%
Selenium
0.1
mcg
0%
Fluoride
~



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