It is a plant ( Ficus carica ) that can reach heights of 10 m, with large, dark green leaves.
It is native to the Mediterranean and Caucasian regions. Only after the discovery of America did the fig spread also in that continent, and following contacts with the East also in China and Japan.
What is commonly considered the fruit of the fig is actually a large fleshy and hollow infructescence, called " syconium ", varying in color from reddish green to purplish-blue.
The real fruits , called achenes , develop inside the syconium and the pulp that surrounds them, sweet and succulent, is the edible part.
Properties and benefits
- Figs are very rich in fiber ; that's why they are often recommended for those suffering from constipation or intestinal problems. The seeds, mucilages and sugary substances contained in the syconium have a slight laxative capacity as they stimulate intestinal peristalsis.
- The derivative obtained from fig buds is useful in acute or chronic psychosomatic forms of the gastrointestinal system .
- The intake of the bud extract regulates gastric motility and normalizes the secretion of digestive juices , exerting an anti-inflammatory action on the mucous membranes and facilitating digestion. This activity is due to the presence of digestive enzymes.
- Rich in polyphenols, natural antioxidants , figs help keep the body's cells young, obviously always if associated with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
- Fresh fruits are rich in calcium , a mineral essential for bone health.
- Although they are sugary, the presence in figs of mineral salts such as potassium and magnesium helps to keep blood sugar under control . But it would be in particular the leaves of these fruits that, according to a study, would be able to avoid glycemic spikes after meals.
- The presence of vitamins and mineral salts (in particular vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, PP, potassium, phosphorus and iron) makes figs excellent remineralizers and energizers to be integrated in the diet of children, the elderly, pregnant women and athletes.
- It has anti- inflammatory qualities, especially for the skin and the respiratory and urinary tracts. Pulp-based compresses are very effective, to be applied locally on abscesses, skin rashes and acne.
Calorie intake in figs: let's dispel a myth
Known for being extremely sweet, especially when ripe, figs actually contain only 47 kcal per 100 g , (an even lower amount than mandarins), providing readily available energy.
In ancient times it was forbidden to export these fruits, considered a basic necessity product. If you ate figs belonging to votive trees, you were punished for sacrilege. Hindus and Buddhists have always considered it a symbol of knowledge and truth.
According to folk medicine, the latex contained in the leaves is an excellent remedy for the treatment and elimination of warts.
Fig: between myth and legend
The term 'Fig Leaf' is an expression deriving from the Bible, the book of Genesis, in which it is said that Adam and Eve, expelled from Paradise for having eaten the forbidden fruit (the apple), wear a fig leaf to hide from shame.
Subsequently the fig is closely related to the origins of Rome. In fact, it seems that the basket containing Romulus and Remus was not carried away by the current of the Tiber which had overflowed, but miraculously ran aground in a muddy inlet, under a wild fig tree: in the shadow of this fig tree the she-wolf fed the twins. The priests of the god Mars took care of the plant, which had become sacred. If the plant withered, it was experienced as a nefarious sign, which is why the priests took great care of it.
You can find the fig in the Ficus Carica !