A Sweet Summer Treat: Figs
Delectably sweet, figs have been eaten for years in Mediterranean countries, where the warmer weather promotes healthy growth of fig trees. The widely promoted mediterranean diet often feature healthy, sweet treats, in the form of fruits. Satisfying sweet tooth cravings while providing the body with essential nutrients, these mini delicacies are a favorite.
Figs are low in calories and high in fiber and other nutrients, making them the perfect compliment to a weight loss diet plan.
Often grown in North America come in different varieties, the most common being the black mission fig. It’s soft texture and delicious sweet taste makes it a popular choice for fig lovers. Traditionally, figs are pollinated by a small breed of wasp, but since this wasp doesn’t live in North America, the fruits are grown locally lack true seeds, making them even easier and more pleasurable to eat, as the seeds are underdeveloped and can be eaten without a second thought.
Figs are chock full of vitamins and minerals, but most interestingly is the fig’s high concentrations of chlorogenic acid, which has been linked to controlling blood sugar levels in Type II Diabetes patients. They are also high in various phenolic compounds - substances in plants that promote anti-oxidant activities and have a profound effect on our general well-being.
Interestingly, dried figs have actually been shown to have higher amounts of these compounds, along with more concentrated sources of trace minerals like copper and selenium, which aid in energy metabolism.
“...higher total phenolic content and antioxidant activity were detected after the drying process. With these results it can be concluded that the differences in analyzed compounds in fresh and dried figs are significant. The results indicate that if properly dried they can be used as a good source of phenolic compounds.” - Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemisty
May and November are when their taste and nutritional content are at their peak, but dried figs are available year round in your local grocery store. When dried they are a great high-fiber snack to keep in your purse, preventing hunger and keeping you on track in your weight loss diet plan. They’re also very sweet tasting, making them the perfect satisfactory afternoon treat for your sweet tooth.
When buying fresh figs, look for soft, plump fruit (without any bruising). If they are under ripe they have a bitter taste. If fresh they can be kept in your refrigerator for 4-5 days, and if dried they can be kept in your pantry for up to 8 months!
Some ideas for incorporating figs into your weight loss diet plan include adding them to salads, soups and stews (they go well with chicken and lamb, two lean meat choices), healthy muffin recipes, and of course simply enjoying both fresh and dried on their own!
So next time you’re shopping for your weight loss diet plan, stop by the produce section and look for figs, it’s just about that time of year when they’re in season. Happy eating!