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Health Benefits of Figs

Probably one of the earliest fruits that man has ever known, figs are small and luscious fruits, with a chewy texture and a very sweet smell. Believed to be the favorite fruit of Cleopatra, they occupy a very important place in many cultures around the world. Romans were avid lovers of the fruit and considered it as a gift from the fertility God 'Bacchus'.

All figs, dried and fresh, are highly nutritious. They contain iron, beta-carotene, benzaldehyde (anti-cancer compound), flavonoids and a digestive enzyme called ficin.

Feeling peckish? Put down that banana and reach for a fig instead. Six figs contain 891 mg of potassium. That's almost 20 percent of your daily need and twice the amount found in a large banana.

Potassium is a mineral that helps the kidneys function normally. It is also an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is crucial to heart function and plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function, too.

Some studies have linked low levels of potassium in the diet with high blood pressure. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in February 2001, data on more than 17,000 adults indicated that adequate potassium intake from fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure.

Figs are rich in dietary fiber, which makes them very effective for a weight management program, while tryptophan, present in figs, induces good sleep and helps get rid of sleeping disorders like insomnia.

In addition, figs are a great source of calcium. Six figs contain as much as you'd get from half a cup of skimmed milk .The more calcium you ingest, the stronger your bones.

Note that dried figs are five times higher in calories than fresh figs.

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