The common fig is a species of flowering plant in the genus Ficus, from the family Moraceae, known as the common fig, anjeer (Hindi), and dumur (Bengali). It is the source of the fruit also called the fig, and as such is an important crop in those areas where it is grown commercially. Native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated by man since ancient times, and is now widely grown throughout the temperate world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.
Mountain fig or rock fig (called "Anjeer Kohi" in Persian) is a wild fig, naturally growing in the rocky mountainous area of the Kavir desert of Iran, especially in the Khorasan Mountains of Kohestan.
The only difference between the mountain fig and other figs is its tolerance of dry and cold climates. It usually does not need any irrigation and is able to survive extremely dry weather and temperatures of -40 °C (-40 °F). The most productive and the oldest mountain fig trees are located in the Zibad mountains.
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well. The widely produced fig newton or fig roll is a biscuit (cookie) with a filling made from figs.
Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (-)-epicatechin and rutin. In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.
Health benefits of figs
Fig fruit is low in calories. 100 g fresh fruits provide only 74 calories. However, they contain health benefiting soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely for optimum health and wellness.
Dried figs are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. In fact, dried fruits are concentrated sources of energy. 100 g dried figs provide 249 calories.
Fresh figs, especially black mission, are good in poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes, lutein, tannins, chlorogenic acid...etc. Their anti-oxidant value is comparable to that of apples at 3200 umol/100 g.
In addition, fresh fruits contain adequate levels of some of the anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and K. Altogether these phyto-chemical compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen derived free radicals from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.
Furthermore, research studies suggest that chlorogenic acid in these berries help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus (Adult onset) condition.
Fresh, as well as dried figs contain good levels of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors for metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Dried figs are an excellent sources of minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. 100 g of dried figs contain 680 mg of potassium, 162 mg of calcium, and 2.03 mg of iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation.
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