One of the few guarantees in this life is that you will get older. That means you’ll suffer many bodily consequences from that aging. No one wants that for themselves, and that’s why we’re constantly looking for products, foods, and supplements that can combat getting older. One of those purported superfoods that can promote anti-aging properties is figs. Fresh figs have become a staple fruit in the healthy American diet. But are they effective at fighting the symptoms of aging, keeping you looking and feeling younger? Today, we’ll break down everything you need to know about fresh figs and anti-aging. Let’s get started!
The History of Figs
Before diving into the present-day details of fresh figs, we should take a moment to explore the history of this fruit. According to Sun-Sentinel, figs originated in “Western Asia” and then made their way to the Mediterranean in prehistoric times. That is where they were first cultivated as fruit trees, likely as early as 4,000 BC in Egypt or Arabia. The fruit spread progressively as the Greeks and Romans got hold of them.
Figs hold an important place in the culture of nearly every place they go. In India, the fig tree — commonly known as the Banyan tree — symbolizes peace and the interconnectedness of life. In Greece, they associated the fig with Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility; this made the fig a symbol of the fall harvest in Greek culture. In Roman culture, they considered the fig a gift from Bacchus, or as the Greeks knew him, Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. They gave figs as an offering at Bacchanalia: wild, frenzied festivals thrown in honor of Bacchus himself.
Finally, fresh figs hold a special place in Christian theology, making several appearances throughout the Bible. Most notably, it is the fruit referenced in Genesis. After Adam and Eve consume the forbidden fruit, they realize they are naked and respond by “crafting makeshift clothing” from fig leaves, writes Trivial Devotion. Some people even believe that the forbidden fruit was a fig, not an apple. Interestingly, when Michelangelo created his masterpiece fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, he depicted the forbidden fruit as a fig.
Figs and Nutrition
Now that we’ve taken some time to understand fresh figs’ historical and cultural significance, let’s pivot to a more practical analysis — the nutritional value of figs.
First, let’s give you a holistic breakdown of the nutrition profile of fresh figs. In a standard 100-gram serving of fresh figs, you can expect to consume just 74 calories. Further, you’ll consume:
- 0.75 g of
- 0.3 g of lipids
- 2.9 g of
- 16.26 g of sugar
- 35 mg of
- 0.37 mg of iron
- 17 mg of
- 14 mg of
- 232 mg of
- 2 mg of Vitamin C
- 6 mcg of (Vitamin B9)
- 4.7 mg of
- 7 mcg of Vitamin A
- 85 mcg of Beta-carotene
- 9 mcg of Lutein and Zeaxanthin
- 4.7 mcg of Vitamin K
Wow! That’s a lot of nutrients. Let’s go through some of the key highlights in terms of fresh figs and their health benefits.
One key thing to note is that fresh figs are an exceptionally significant source of calcium and potassium. WebMD says that these minerals “work together to improve bone density,” which can prevent conditions like and osteoporosis.
Another vast positive that fresh figs offer is their high levels of fiber. As Healthline states, fiber can “help promote digestive health” by softening and adding bulk to stool, decreasing constipation, and serving as a — a food source for the healthy bacteria populating in your gut. Evidence backs up these claims. One research case studied 150 people with irritable bowel syndrome and constipation as they consumed 45 grams of dried figs twice daily. The results showed the participants experienced a significant reduction in symptoms — including pain, bloating, and constipation — compared to a control group.
Regulating Blood Pressure
Another health benefit derived from fresh figs is a reduction in high blood pressure, otherwise known as . A significant cause of high blood pressure is potassium imbalance, which happens when your body consumes too much sodium and not enough potassium. Since fresh figs are a potassium-rich food source, they work to correct that imbalance.
Potential Anti-Cancer Effects
Many promising and advocating test-tube studies have assessed the effects of fig leaves on cancer cells. They have shown fig leaves, and natural latex from fig plants exhibit anti-tumor activity against the human colon, breast, cervical, and liver cancer cells. Each of these studies found that components of the fig fruit could induce and promote apoptosis in cancerous cells, effectively killing them. Apoptosis is, in simple terms, programmed cell death. When it malfunctions, it can lead to various problems; however, when cancer cells induce it, it is an effective method of ridding the body of cancer.
While these studies show promising results, it is crucial to remember that they are only test-tube studies. While such studies offer a good starting point, human studies must substantiate their results and assess how they will translate to human application.
Next, the last nutrition-based health benefit that fresh figs provide is their antioxidant characteristics. Good Food BBC says figs are “rich in protective plant compounds called polyphenols.” These compounds have protective antioxidant properties, so they help prevent damage to cells and tissue by protecting them from free radical damage. Essentially, free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules in the body. They are like this because they have an incomplete outer shell of electrons. While their lifespan is merely a fraction of a second, Very Well Health says they can do large amounts of damage in even this little time. Antioxidants work to neutralize these molecules by donating one of their electrons to them.
Strong Anti-Inflammatory Property
Finally, it’s important to note that fresh figs reduce inflammation. Achievement is partly through its high levels of luteolin, a plant flavonoid that has proven anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-oxidative elements of figs further strengthen their ability to limit inflammation caused by free radicals that are damaging cells and creating inflammation.
Figs and Anti-Aging
Those were some generalized health benefits that you can gain by eating fresh figs, but what about anti-aging properties specifically? Let’s get into that now.
The first anti-aging property that fresh figs and their derivatives can offer your life is helping you cultivate and maintain your skin health.
Foremost, fresh figs can help to reduce wrinkles in your skin. The nutrients and vitamins found in figs help balance sebum production and skin melanin and prevent epidermal water loss. These factors increase moisture and hydration throughout your skin, freeing it from wrinkles and premature aging. When applied topically, figs can reduce the appearance of wrinkles by promoting collagen production.
Let’s explore some scientific research that backs these claims. One study of 45 people with dermatitis asked them to apply a cream made from dried fig fruit extract twice daily for two weeks. They concluded that the fig-based serum was more effective at treating dermatitis symptoms than hydrocortisone cream, which is the standard treatment.
Another study tested a combination of fruit extracts — including fig extract — for their impact on skin health. It found that fig extract could not impose antioxidant properties on the skin but could also decrease collagen breakdown and improve the appearance of wrinkles.
The next anti-aging advantage you can reap through fresh figs increases hair health! For instance, figs can promote and stimulate hair growth. They achieve this via the high concentration of vitamins C and E, ensuring thorough blood circulation throughout your scalp. As Dr. Harish Koutam told , subcutaneous blood flow helps in the anagen phase of the hair cycle, helping follicles grow longer. The excessive amount of calcium in fresh figs also promotes the formation and strengthening of collagen, which plays a significant role in the hair growth cycle.
Fresh figs can also fight against hair loss, another common symptom of aging. Vitamin E plays a big role in doing this. One study observed 38 volunteers; some used a vitamin E serum while others did not. They found that the vitamin E group experienced a reduction in hair loss greater than the control group. Vitamin C also helps reduce hair loss. Brendan Camp, M.D., told Byrdie that vitamin C could reduce the formation of DHT, a male hormone that causes the shrinkage of hair follicles. Research supports this claim, showing that vitamin C holds the ability to repress DHT, meaning that it can indeed prevent hair loss.
Finally, fresh figs offer your hair increased protection through their high iron content. Iron is a key mineral responsible for maintaining and fostering healthy hair. Similarly, an iron deficiency reduces your body’s ability to produce hemoglobin, a protein critical in hair growth. Thus, by consuming figs, you are increasing your hair’s overall health while also promoting growth and mitigating hair loss.
The next anti-aging benefit that many claim fresh figs give you is achieving weight loss more easily and healthily. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. Figs are certainly not some kind of magical fruit that will allow you to drop dozens of pounds in weeks. However, they offer some unique weight loss benefits.
First, figs are an incredibly nutritious snack. Their high fiber content fills up your stomach “easily” and keeps you “fuller for a long time,” says NDTV Food. It allows you to control your caloric intake for the day, letting you go longer before feeling hungry again.
Figs can help burn fat in your body. This is because of the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in figs. A major cause of weight gain is , loosely translating to a high level of triglycerides in your body. Triglycerides are a common type of fat found in various everyday food items like burgers, pizza, French fries, donuts, and more. Anything high in cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fat is likely to have more triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids effectively lower triglyceride levels in your body, further aiding in weight loss.
Regarding weight loss, it’s also worth noting that figs are a natural substitute for sugar. Sugar cravings are a tremendous obstacle for those on the weight loss path, and many end up giving in to their craving by eating processed foods and artificial sugar. Not only do these foods offer little energetic benefit, as artificial sugar than natural sugar, but they also are much higher in calories. The low caloric makeup of figs, combined with their natural sugar traits, makes them an ideal snack to satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing weight loss.
Just like any food, product, or supplement, there are a few downsides that you must consider when approaching figs as an anti-aging or health tool.
First, you may be allergic to figs. Researchers in Vienna found that a high percentage of those allergic to birch pollen showed a positive skin allergy test to fresh figs. Of the 85 people they tested, 78% had a positive skin test for fresh figs. If you’ve never consumed figs before, they highly recommend that you check with your doctor to conduct a quick allergy test and confirm that it’s safe to consume figs.
Next, another potential risk of fig consumption is the high level of vitamin K in them. While this is not typically an issue in the average person, there are certain exceptions. For instance, if you are taking any kind of blood-thinning medication — such as warfarin — you’ll need to check your vitamin K levels daily. This study delved deeper into vitamin K levels and complications with blood thinners.
While the high fiber content in figs is almost always good for your health, too much can be detrimental. Eating too many figs, especially dried figs, can cause diarrhea or constipation.
Adding Figs to Your Lifestyle
Once you’ve weighed the potential benefits and risks of figs, it’s time to decide how you want to add them to your diet. There are two main approaches to adding figs to your lifestyle: consuming them or creating some kind of mixture that you can apply to your body. We’ll cover both.
Let’s go through the various ways to consume figs orally.
Fresh figs are a fantastically healthy snack because of their low caloric content and sweet taste. They’re also excellent additions to your salad or dessert, and you can even make fig jam or preserves with fresh figs.
Unlike their fresh counterpart, dried figs are especially high in calories, and even higher in sugar content, so you should always eat them in moderation. However, since they have higher fiber content, you should rely on dried figs as a remedy for constipation.
Fig leaves may be more difficult to find locally unless you go to a specialty grocer. They are just as nutritious as fresh figs, and you can use them in many ways. People commonly use fig leaves as a wrap for their dishes containing rice, meat, and other fillings.
Fig Leaf Tea
They make fig leaf tea from dried fig leaves. You might make it yourself, but purchasing pre-made fig leaf teas online or at a specialty store is more effortless.
So those are all the ways you can eat or drink figs! But what about other applications?
One topical use of figs to boost skin health is to make a fig and honey mask! Honey is a humectant, which means it naturally preserves moisture. This quality, mixed with the inherent skin-health benefits of figs, makes this mask an effective anti-aging remedy.
- 3 small figs
- 2 teaspoons of honey
Blend the fresh figs in a blender to create a smooth paste, then transfer it to a clean bowl and add the honey. Mix the two substances well. You’re all done! Now you can apply this creamy paste in all areas where your skin needs some help. Leave it on for about 20 minutes, then wash it off.
That’s fine for your skin, but can you do something similar to your hair? Of course!
Another topical application of figs that targets your hair is making a fig, yogurt, and egg mask. Hair masks are quick ways to attack the root problems damaging your hair health and otherwise improve the quality and shine of your hair. Let’s see how to make this mask.
- 2 figs
- 2 teaspoons of yogurt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of honey
Mash the ripe fig into a bowl and add all the ingredients. Mix it well to form a thick paste. Then, apply the mask evenly throughout your hair to ensure coverage. Leave it on for around an hour, then wash it off with mild shampoo. Repeat only twice a week.
Figs are a potent superfood. Not only do they offer you various health benefits that improve the overall quality of your life, but they also hold powerful anti-aging properties that can combat the symptoms of getting older. Figs can strengthen skin health, promote hair growth, and even aid in weight loss! There’s no reason you shouldn’t add this tasty and nutritious food to your diet.