The fig occupies a high position among fruits. Soft, sweet and pulpy, this delicious fruit promotes health. It is a pear-shaped hollow fruit, with sugary pulp and a large number of small seeds of golden color sticking to the wall of the cavity. It is variable in size and color. The ripe fresh fruit is juicy, wholesome and delicious. However, being highly perishable, it if sold in the world markets in its dry form.
Origin and Distribution
The fig is a native of Asia Minor and spread early to the Mediterranean region. It is a plant of extremely ancient cultivation and was grown in Egypt around 4,000 BC. It has been used as a principal food in the Mediterranean countries for thousands of years. The main areas of fig cultivation in India are Pune in Maharashtra, Srirangapatnam in Karnataka, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and parts of Gujarat.
An analysis of the fresh fig shows it consists good amount of moisture and little protein, fat and carbohydrate. The dry fig has a high nutritive value. Its most important food element is sugar which forms 51 to 74 per cent of the whole fruit. It can be taken in various ways, either by itself or in combination with other foodstuffs enrich their food value. When taken with white flour, it removes much of its constipating effect. It combines very well with milk. Figs are often used for preparing cakes and jams. They are also made into pudding.
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties
Many medicinal virtues have been ascribed to the fig. It is considered a restorative food which helps in quick recovery after prolonged illness. It removes physical and mental exertion and endows the body with renewed vigor and strength. It is an excellent tonic for the weak people who suffer cracks in lips, tongue and mouth.
Taken either fresh or dried, the fig is regarded as a dependable laxative on account of its large cellulose content and its tough skin. The tiny seeds in the fruit possess the property of stimulating peristaltic or wave like movements of intestines which facilitates easy evacuation of faeces and keeps the alimentary canal clean.
Owing to its laxative property, the fig is an excellent remedy for piles. Two or three dried figs should be soaked in cold water in a glass of enamelware in the night after cleaning them thoroughly with hot water. They should be taken next morning. Figs should be taken similarly in the evening. This will remove straining at stools and thus prevent the protrusion of the anus. The piles will be cured with regular use of figs in this manner for three or four weeks.
Figs are considered beneficial in the treatment of asthma. Phlegmatic cases of cough and asthma are treated with success by their use. It gives comfort to the patient by draining of the phlegm.
Figs can be beneficially used in the treatment of sexual debility. They can be supplemented by other dry fruits like almonds and dry dates along with butter. Their use has proved effective in such cases
For corns of long duration, the milky juice of green figs helps to soften them. The milk has a mild necrotic action
Figs should be washed thoroughly before use. The skin of the dry fruit being tough, the soaked fig is easy to digest. It is, however, essential to take the water along with the fruit as much of the nutrients come out into the water.