Figs, because they are good. Properties and calories

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Robert Maurer

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Inviting, greedy, irresistible. To the point that, when they are ripe and melt in the mouth, one leads to another. Are the figs (technically, from a botanical point of view, they are actually flowers), typical fruits between August and September, which can be eaten at the end of a meal, as an afternoon snack or as a sweet note accompanying breakfast. They are harvested from the Ficus carica tree, originally from the Middle East and South-East Asia but transplanted for centuries in all Mediterranean countries.

In the country the Ficus carica is cultivated above all in the southern regions, also along the coasts, which offer the best climatic conditions for its cultivation. Figs, in fact, grow in warm-humid habitats, in which the temperature hardly drops below 15 ° C. Renowned for their full and round flavor are the figs of Cosenza area, Apulian doctorate (a prized variety) and PDO white figs from Cilento. Resistant and with deep roots, the fig tree rarely gets sick or is attacked by parasites. Enemy number one is the so-called "fig cochineal" (Ceroplastes rusci) which can colonize the leaves around May-June. But if the danger is avoided, the fig tree can bear fruit even at the end of September.

Do figs really make you fat?

It is commonplace to say that figs represent a real attack on the line. In reality, the sweet and juicy taste of the red pulp should not be misleading. "About fresh figs, 100 g of edible part provide an average of 47 calories which can reach 55-60 depending on the degree of ripeness", replies the doctor Sara Valente, a nutrition biologist in Rome. «Few, if you compare to the 52 calories of the apple and the 70 of the mandarins. They are also due to the presence of simple sugars (especially fructose) which are highly assimilable and easy to dispose of with a little movement. The situation is different with dried figs, which having been deprived of their share of water, are much more sugary, providing 256 calories per 100 g of edible part ».

To balance the sugar load, nature has nevertheless provided the fig with a good percentage of soluble fibers, which favor intestinal transit, fighting constipation and swelling. Because of this two or three figs a day are not contraindicated to those on a diet. Just don't overdo it and consume them instead of dessert or as a post-workout energy replenishment. A little trick to slow down the absorption of the sugars they contain is to consume figs along with three unpeeled almonds or three walnuts: fibers, carbohydrates and "good" lipids of dried fruit avoid a sharp rise in blood sugar.

A treasure trove of minerals and vitamins

Notable are the nutritional properties of figs, especially as regards i mineral salts and Vitamins, micronutrients very useful for keeping in good health. «Figs are very rich in potassium, a mineral antistanchezza which helps regulate blood pressure and heart-muscle pump, counteracting water retention », adds Dr. Valente. «100 g provides 270 mg, which places figs halfway between ripe peaches (260 mg) and watermelon (280 mg).

Also valuable is the phosphorus content (25 mg), essential for the bone and tooth health and for the protection of the nervous system, calcium (43 mg) which also strengthens the skeletal system and regulates the contraction of muscle fibers, and magnesium (15 mg), the "women's mineral" that relieves muscle cramps, tiredness and nervous tension, as well as favoring evacuation. The percentage of iron is also discreet, useful for combating anemia ». As for the vitamins, the most represented is vitamin C (7 mg, equal to a tenth of the daily requirement for women), but there are also percentages of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, PP.

The extra edge of vitamin K

"The vitamin K that abounds in fresh figs deserves a separate mention: 4,7 mcg for every 100 g, that is one fifth of the recommended daily requirement to women in menopause », continues Dr. Valente. «The role of vitamin K as a coagulant capable of making wounds heal quickly has been known for some time. But the most recent studies have shed light on another important property: that of preventing calcium from settling in unsuitable parts of the body, causing the dreaded microcalcifications (for example, of the shoulder or breast). Vitamin K is used to "direct" and fix calcium in the musculoskeletal system, where it is needed to strengthen the bones, without it being dispersed in other parts of the body that do not need it or are even damaged by deposits of calcium salts. For this reason nowadays, many supplements prescribed to avert the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopause associate vitamin D with K, for a more complete intake and tailored to the specific needs of the "over 50". Natural reserve of vitamin K, figs offer this "reinforcement" at no cost, which increases bone density and calcium sedimentation, preventing fractures in the elderly.

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