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A rich source of fibre and loaded with vitamins and minerals, figs are one of the earliest fruits grown by man. A healthy and versatile ingredient, it can be added to many dishes. The taste is unique and sweet and the texture soft and chewy. Figs are native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean and was used in ancient Greece too. Though figs are not available throughout the year, dried figs (popularly known as anjeer in India) are. Not only is dried fig tasty to eat, it has numerous health benefits to offer as well.
Improves digestion: Anjeer is rich in dietary fibre. 3 pieces of dried figs contain 5 grams of fibre, which accounts for about 20% of our daily requirement. It s a natural laxative for preventing constipation and other digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Helps in weight loss: Apart from being rich in fibre, dried figs are low in calories. One piece of dried fig gives you just 47 calories. And, you obtain only 0.2 grams of total fat per dried fig. So, dried figs are an ideal snack for people who want to lose weight.
Prevents hypertension: When you eat more salt, the level of sodium increases. This disturbs the sodium-potassium balance and in turn results in hypertension. Anjeer is an ideal fruit for to restore this balance. One dried fig gives you 129mg of potassium and just 2mg of sodium. This helps prevent hypertension.
Rich in antioxidants: Dried figs are rich in antioxidants. A study  by Vinson JA and colleagues suggested that processed, dried figs are superior to natural figs when it comes to antioxidants. The study also mentions that dried figs have superior quality of antioxidants, called phenols, compared to other fruits that attribute their antioxidant property to vitamin C and E.
Prevents heart disease: The high levels of antioxidants in dried figs help to eliminate free radicals that can damage blood vessels and result in heart disease. And, as mentioned earlier, they prevent hypertension, a huge risk factor for development of coronary heart disease (CHD). Plus, there are some studies  which suggest that dried figs help to reduce the levels of triglycerides that contribute greatly to heart disease.
Prevents cancer: Antioxidant-rich dried figs also help in preventing cellular DNA damage due to free radicals that can make a cell cancerous.
Strengthens your bones: One dried fig gives you 3% calcium of your daily calcium requirement. Along with other calcium-rich foods, they can help to improve bone density and strength.
Good for diabetes: The high fibre content in figs makes them good for people with diabetes. However, dried figs are high in sugar content. So you should consult a diabetologist about the quantity of dried figs you can consume.
Cures iron-deficiency anemia: Dried figs are a rich source of iron. One dried fig can give you 2% of your daily iron requirement. Iron is an important mineral that carries hemoglobin throughout your body. So eating anjeer is a natural way to raise your hemoglobin levels indirectly by increasing the levels of iron in your body.
Improves reproductive health: According to ancient literature, the Greeks used fig as a natural aphrodisiac. Figs were considered sacred fruit and were closely associated with fertility and love. Scientifically, figs improve fertility and libido because they are loaded with minerals like zinc, manganese and magnesium which play an important role in boosting reproductive health.
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You may also like to read:
1. Vinson JA1, Zubik L, Bose P, Samman N, Proch J. Dried fruits: excellent in vitro and in vivo antioxidants.
2. Joycelyn M. Peterson et al. Effect of Consumption of Dried California Mission Figs on Lipid Concentrations
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