FIGS are an ancient food native to the Middle East and are naturally part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Many believe figs were actually in the Garden of Eden instead of apples. Figs are a symbol of abundance, fertility, and sweetness. In Roman times figs were considered restorative. They were held in such high regard by the Greeks that laws were created to prevent their export. Early Greek Olympic athletes used figs as their training food.
The Spaniards are responsible for introducing figs to the California territory in the early 16th century. They are grown on the Ficus tree and have a soft, chewy, slightly crunchy taste. They are delicate and perishable and their season lasts from late summer to early fall. Today California produces 98% of all figs in the US. Figs made their way into the commercial market in 1892 with the introduction of Fig Newtons.
Ounce for ounce, figs have more fiber than prunes and more potassium than bananas. At 20% of the RDA for dietary fiber, figs can act as a natural laxative. They also contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, and are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A and K. Figs contain phytonutrients that may boost immunity, slow the aging process, and reduce risk for chronic disease. Figs are also fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.
Figs are naturally sweet and can be used to replace fats in baked goods. There are several varieties but the most common are the slightly nutty Golden and the dark purple Mission figs. They are a natural source of energy and perfect for an afternoon snack or before a workout.
Enjoy a fig today!