Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It's Time For Fig's !!




            Fig's are soft, sweet very thin skin fruit

They say Adam & Eve covered up with fig leaves when they realized they were naked. Well I don't know if that's true, but I do know this, only a God Could Have designed such a delectable treat. Just about every mom has shoved a Fig Newton in their babies face to shut them up. That's how most of us were first exposed to figs. Soft and sweet, jelly like, perfect for babies and adults too. Fig's are the fruit of the ficus tree, which are related to mulberry trees. Many fig's are dried either by spending time in the sun or by an artificial process, this way they can travel better like on a hike for instance. Figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Fig's were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were deemed so important in Classic Greece that sportsmen ate them before entering a competition. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit. According to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree. During this period of history, at least 29 varieties of figs were already known. Jump ahead to the late 19th century, when Spanish missionaries established the mission in San Diego, California, they also planted fig trees. Today, California remains one of the largest producers of figs in addition to Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Many figs are grown for their ornamental fruit,  only ficus carica, the Common Fig, is cultivated to any extent for human consumption. The fig's flowers and seeds grow together to form a single mass. Depending on the species, each fruit can contain up to several hundred to several thousand seeds. A fig "fruit" comes from an arrangement of multiple flowers, turned inwards, nearly closed receptacle, with many small flowers arranged on the inner surface. The actual flowers of the fig are unseen unless the fig is cut open. It's a fruit without a visible flower. Figs have a lot of soluble fibre, the kind that helps lower LDL cholesterol. (the bad one) Soluble fibre means that the fibre dissolves in water and forms a jelly-like paste with other foods in the intestine.

This feature is very important because it reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. Soluble fiber not only lowers LDL cholesterol, but it also raises HDL cholesterol, the "good" guy. Insoluble fiber does not have any effect on cholesterol but it is very beneficial for our whole body because it acts as a natural laxative. When our meal includes soluble fiber, bacteria in the colon ferment it. This fermentation produces certain compounds that prevent the formation of cholesterol. This results in lower levels of cholesterol circulating in your blood vessels. Fig's contribute high amounts of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, three essential minerals for the health of our heart. On the other hand, they are very low in sodium, a major contributor to hypertension. For every 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of fresh figs, they have 53 calories, 1.6 grams of fiber, 44 milligrams of calcium, and 1.1 milligrams of sodium. Dried fig's have with 272 calories, 12.9 grams of fiber, 193 milligrams of calcium and 40 milligrams of sodium. Dried fig's contain an impressive 250mg of calcium per 100g, compared to whole milk with only 118mg. Fig's are a highly alkaline food, making them useful in balancing the pH of the body. They are a good source of potassium, important in helping to regulate blood pressure. Fig's are can also improve various respiratory disorders including whooping cough and asthma. Since they're also good for digestion, they help in treating constipation, indigestion, stomach ache, etc. Fig's in natural medicine, are used for fever, ear-ache, boils, abscesses, venereal diseases and liver tonic.

You probably didn't think about the leaves of the fig tree as one of the edible parts. In some cultures though, fig leaves are a common part of the menu, and for good reason. The leaves of the fig have repeatedly been shown to have anti-diabetic properties, and can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by persons with diabetes who require insulin injections. In one study, a liquid extract made from fig leaves was simply added to the breakfast of insulin-dependent diabetic subjects, in order to produce this insulin-lowering effect. Fig's a good fruit source of calcium will also promote bone density. Also, fig's potassium may counteract the increased calcium loss caused by the high-sodium diets, typical of most Americans. This could help prevent bones from thinning out quickly as we age. Fig's are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. In  California figs are available from June through September. So don't even think about passing them up this year. Or in the mean time try some dried fig's from your nearest farmers market and remember buy organic. Good Luck...






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