Fresh or dried, figs are a powerhouse of nutrition. These naturally sweet fruits boast large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and fiber. They’re also packed with quercetin, kaempferol, epicatechin gallate and other powerful antioxidants. Despite their high sugar content, they support health and may even aid in weight loss.
This superfood comes in different varieties, colors and sizes. Kadota figs, Sierra figs and black mission figs are among the most popular. Dried figs contain less water, so they’re more concentrated in calories, sugar and nutrients. One cup, which has about 149 grams, provides:
95.2 grams of carbs
71.4 grams of sugars
14.6 grams of fiber
4.9 grams of protein
1.4 grams of fat
24 percent of the daily value (DV) of calcium
38 percent of the DV of manganese
29 percent of the DV of potassium
25 percent of the DV of magnesium
29 percent of the DV of vitamin K
3 percent of the DV of vitamin C
The same amount of fresh figs has approximately 111 calories, 1.2 grams of protein, 0.3 gram of fat and 28.8 grams of carbs, including 24.3 grams of sugars and 4.2 grams of fiber. They’re lower in vitamins and minerals than dried figs, but they also boast fewer calories. When it comes to dates vs. figs, the latter are lower in calories and carbs. One cup of dates contains 415 calories and 110.2 grams of carbs, including 93.1 grams of sugars, which is a lot more compared to dried figs.
Discover the Benefits of Figs
These delicious fruits nourish your body from the inside out. Rich in vitamins and minerals, dried figs can help prevent nutrient deficiencies, strengthen your bones and make weight loss easier. They’re chock-full of antioxidants that slow down aging and scavenge free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
If you’re struggling with constipation, look no further. Due to their high fiber content, these fruits will keep you regular and relieve abdominal discomfort.
Read more: Constipation and Figs
Your immune system will become stronger, too. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Fish & Shellfish Immunology, figs contain plant-based compounds that stimulate the immune response and regulate certain genes involved in immune function.
Eat Figs for Bone Health
One cup of dried figs delivers nearly a quarter of the recommended daily calcium intake. This mineral protects against bone loss and osteoporosis when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
A 2018 review published in Sains Malaysiana indicates a strong link between fig consumption and bone health. According to researchers, the mineral content of this fruit closely resembles that of human milk.
Several studies cited in this review suggest that figs may help prevent osteoporosis due to their high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. These nutrients support bone growth and maintenance. Calcium and potassium may help slow down bone thinning and reduce urinary calcium loss. Furthermore, figs exhibit antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic and hepatoprotective effects.
Dried Figs Promote Weight Loss
When consumed in moderation, these fruits may aid in weight loss and make clean eating easier. The fiber in dried figs increases satiety and curbs hunger, which in turn, helps reduce total food intake. As Harvard Health Publishing points out, high-fiber diets not only improve weight control but may also protect against heart disease and diabetes.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism has found a positive association between low fiber intake and a high body mass index. Scientists suggest that eating more fiber may improve overall health and reduce body weight.
Additionally, dried figs are naturally sweet and contain no added sugars. Therefore, they’re a healthier alternative to cookies, milk chocolate, cake and other processed foods. If you’re trying to slim down, add some figs to baked goods, waffles, pancakes and smoothies instead of sugar. Eat these fruits after exercise to replenish your glycogen stores and help your muscles recover from training.
Achieve Healthier Skin and Hair
Beauty starts from the inside out. Your diet has a direct impact on the appearance of your hair, skin and nails. Dried figs are loaded with antioxidants and other micronutrients that promote skin health and strengthen your hair.
Read more: 10 Recipes for Glowing, Healthy Skin
According to the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, these fruits boast antioxidant and antibacterial properties. They are an excellent source of gallic acid, catechins, saponins and other phenolic compounds that protect against oxidative damage, a major contributing factor to aging and chronic diseases.
These findings indicate that figs may protect your skin from oxidative stress and slow the aging process. With their antimicrobial properties, they may help prevent bacterial skin infections and strengthen your natural defenses. Zinc and iron, two key nutrients in figs, promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Figs May Improve Your Memory
The health benefits of figs are largely due to their high antioxidant levels. A 2014 study featured in BioMed Research International shows that Omani figs may improve memory and reduce oxidative damage to the brain. The antioxidants in these fruits may delay plaque formation in Alzheimer’s disease and protect against neuronal degeneration.
This study suggests that figs have beneficial effects on the brain and could improve memory-related behavioral deficits. Further research is needed to investigate their role in mental health and the prevention of neurodegenerative ailments. Researchers attribute these benefits to the high levels of flavonoids, quercetin, ferulic acid, anthocyanins and other potent antioxidants in figs.
Fight Diabetes Naturally
Dried figs are quite high in sugar, so they may not seem like the best choice for people with diabetes, and yet the opposite is true. A recent review, which was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2018, indicates that several Ficus species, including the common fig, may reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin response. These fruits are high in vitamin E, sterols, coumarins, tannins and other bioactive compounds with antidiabetic properties.
According to BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, mistletoe fig (Ficus deltoidea) may inhibit drug-induced hyperglycemia and relieve diabetes complications. Its leaves appear to be particularly beneficial. Also, remember that figs are packed with fiber. This nutrient improves blood sugar control and aids in weight management.
In 2018, the journal Science published a study on the potential benefits of fiber. Scientists found that high-fiber diets promote the growth of gut bacteria responsible for producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These healthy fats regulate inflammation and appetite. A diet rich in fiber can balance the gut flora and increase SCFAs, making diabetes management easier.
Reap the Benefits of Figs
From improved blood sugar control to healthier skin, dried figs have various therapeutic properties. Plus, they taste amazing and can be used in countless recipes. Make your own granola bars, energy bites and other delicious snacks. Swap sugar for figs to boost your nutrient intake.
Read more: 5 Ways to Make Your Own Energy Bars
Have you ever tried figs on toast, fig cheese puffs, roasted figs with walnuts or apple and fig custard? If not, it’s time to add some variety to your diet. These fruits can turn any meal into a gourmet treat and take your recipes to the next level.
High in Fiber
A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 7.3 g of fiber. Including more fiber in your diet can help lower your risk of chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes. Dried figs contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows digestion for appetite and blood sugar control and also helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, improving bowel function. Healthy adult women need 21 to 25 g of fiber a day, and adult men 30 to 38 g of fiber a day.
Good for Your Bones
Figs contain more calcium than most other fruits, according to the California Fig Advisory Board, with 121 mg in a 1/2-cup serving. Adequate calcium intake supports bone health and growth, and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis. Adults need 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium a day. One serving of dried figs meets 12 percent of your daily value for calcium, almost the same as 1 cup of unpacked cottage cheese. Including a variety of calcium-rich foods in your diet, like dried figs, can make help ensure that you meet your daily needs.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Consuming dried figs can help you meet your daily potassium needs and help lower your blood pressure. A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 507 mg of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain fluid balance. Increasing your daily intake of potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium, helping to lower your blood pressure. The American Heart Association says a healthy diet should contain 4,700 mg of potassium a day from natural foods. One serving of dried figs can help you meet 10 percent of your daily potassium needs.
Good Source of Iron
Dried figs can also help you meet your iron needs. A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 1.5 mg of iron. Iron is an essential mineral needed to help transport oxygen in your blood. Without enough iron in your diet, delivery of oxygen to your cells decreases, causing you to feel tired and weak and more susceptible to infection. Adult men and women over the age of 51 need 8 mg of iron a day, and women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 18 mg of iron a day.
As regular readers of our blog already know, the Xtrawine team absolutely loves our food. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Food is a massive part of Italian culture and we’re always looking for new dishes to share with you.
Today, we’re going to look at a dish that you may not immediately sound like the most appetising thing in the world. But if you get it right, you’ll enjoy a taste sensation that’s bolstered in no small part by the addition of good wine.
We’re keeping things simple this time around as we’re going to look at how to use Italian wine to make a tasty dried figs dish.
Let’s jump right into it.
Before we get started with the ingredients and method, we just want to let you know that this gorgeous recipe comes from DomesticDaddy.net
It’s also an easy recipe that pretty much anybody could make. However, you will have to give it a few days to get the most out of it.
Here’s what you need:
- About 225g of dried figs. Of course, Italian dried figs are preferable but you can use other types if you’re at a loose end.
- About 350ml of the Italian red wine of your choice. We recommend using something on the cheaper side of the scale as you’ll be cooking the wine.
- A strip of lemon zest.
- One teaspoon of honey.
- A couple of bay leaves.
As you can see, you don’t need a whole lot of ingredients to get this one started. Now, let’s look at the steps you need to follow to make this tasty dish.
Pour all of your Italian red wine into a saucepan and place it over the medium flame. Add the bay leaves and allow the wine to simmer until you only have about 100ml left. This step mixes the flavour from the leaves into the wine and boils the wine down to its bare essentials.
While you’re reducing the wine in the saucepan, spend a little time chopping your figs into halves. You may want to chop them into thirds or quarters if they’re especially large. Pop them into a Tupperware container alongside your lemon zest. Make sure you seal the container tightly to prevent any more air from getting inside.
Pour your honey into the warmed and reduced wine. Stir until it’s all well mixed. Now, open your Tupperware container and pour the wine mixture all over the figs. Seal the container tightly again before picking it up to give it a good shake.
Just a quick tip here. It’s likely that the reduced wine mixture won’t cover the figs entirely when you pour it. That’s not a problem. The shaking ensures the wine mixture spreads onto every fig in the container.
Now, you wait.
Leave the wine and fig mixture in the container for about 5 days. This offers the figs plenty of time to soak up the wine mixture and swell up.
It’s important that you don’t refrigerate the container at any point. This will spoil the flavour of the wine. You should also give the container a couple of shakes every so often to mix things up a bit.
After the 5 days end, you can either serve immediately or place the figs in the fridge. You can keep them for a couple of months before they go off. However, we think it’s best that you eat them as quickly as you can to get the most out of them.
Finally, it’s time to serve. It’s best to combine the rich flavour of the wine-soaked figs with a strong cheese. They make for an excellent after-dinner course when mixed with toasted bread, crackers, and a variety of cheeses. Of course, you can also serve them as hors d’oeuvres.
The Wines That Complement the Dish
What’s important to remember here is that you’re not pairing wine with just bog-standard dried figs. This dish has a very sweet and rich flavour due to the use of honey and red wine. Plus, combining it with cheese adds another level of richness. As a result, you need to choose your wine carefully to find something that works.
A first choice is a good pinot noir . The fruitiness of the wine works particularly well with the dish. We also don’t think that you have to stick to wines that only use the Pinot Noir grape. Almost any wine that features the grape in a large enough quantity should do the trick here.
Other red wines work well too, with Cabernet Sauvignon being a particular favourite of ours.
If you want to get a little experimental, you could also try a Pinot Gris. This wine is made using a method that mingles the grape’s skins with their juice, which creates an almost Rosé-like wine that some refer to as “orange wine”.
However, we do recommend that you don’t combine this dish with white wines. While you may be able to get away with an Italian white wine if you’re eating dried figs on their own, the richness of this particular dish has a habit of overpowering the wine. We recommend sticking to reds that are capable of complementing the sweet flavours that you’ll find in this dish.
The big exception here is Champagne. However, we still only recommend this if you’re eating regular dried figs with cheese. Combining Champagne with the above recipe may not have the effects that you’re looking for.
The Final Word
Dried figs are a traditional Italian product that some may find a little bit boring on their own. But with the right efforts in the kitchen, you can create a tasty dish that works well as part of an after-dinner course. We wholeheartedly recommend it for your next dinner party.
And of course, as we always say, the best wine the complement this dish is the wine that you enjoy most. We’ve just offered a couple of suggestions, but we encourage a little experimentation. You never know what you might find.