Fig (Ficus Carica): Health benefits and Side effects



Fig or anjeer is a superfood with super benefits. Loved especially for their delicious, sugary, and mild taste. The common fig (Ficus carica) is native to the Middle East and western Asia. They are nowadays widely grown throughout the temperate world, both for their fruit and as an ornamental plant (1).

The fruit color of Fig varies from dark-purple to green. The flesh is eaten and the skin discarded or dried. Both fresh female and male figs are processed as jam or candies. All the parts of these plants like fruit, root, and leaves are used as traditional medicine. They are eaten for the treatment of gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular disorders (2). Fresh and dried figs have long been appreciated for their laxative action (3, 4).

Nutritional value of Figs

Figs are rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, and dietary fibers. Nutritional descriptions of fresh and dried Fig are as follows (5).

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Fresh Dried
Energy 74 kcal 249
Protein 0.75 g 3.30 g
Fat 0.30 g 0.93 g
Carbohydrates 19.18 g 63.87
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g 9.8 g
Sugar total 16.26 g 47.92 g
Folates 6 µg 9 µg
Niacin 0.40 mg 0.61 mg
Vitamin A 142 IU 10 IU
Vitamin C 2 mg 1.2 mg
Vitamin E 0.11mg 0.35 mg
Vitamin K 4.7 µg 15.6 µg
Calcium 35 mg 162 mg
Iron 0.37 mg 2.03 mg
Magnesium 17 mg 68 mg
Potassium 232 mg 680 mg
Zinc 0.15 mg 0.55 mg
Sodium 1 mg 10 mg

Health benefits of Fig (Ficus Carica)

1. Anticancer and antioxidant activity

Figs fruits have an anticancer compound known as stigmasterol. Stigmasterol may be useful in the prevention of certain kinds of cancers like ovarian, prostate, breast, and colon cancer (6,7).

2. Antidiabetic

Figs help in lowering the oxidative stress, blood sugar level of the body. Abscisic acid, malic acid, and chlorogenic acids are the main compounds present in the fig which helps in controlling the blood sugar level. Therefore eating figs helps in not only preventing Type-II diabetes but also prevents obesity (8,9).

3. Laxative

High fiber and cellulose present in the fig makes it an excellent natural laxative. Therefore persons having contraction constipation problems must eat figs. Along with constipation, figs also help in curing fecal impaction, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome. And to some extent also prevents colon cancer (10,11).

4. Regulate hypertension

Figs are a good source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids along with flavonoids, phenols, and potassium.

Studies suggested that these compounds help in the prevention of blockage thus regulate hypertension (12).

Human studies also support the hypotension nature of Figs in patients with heart problems and coronary ischemia (13).

5. Healthy Bones

Figs are known to contain various bioactive compounds like potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), and Strontium (Sr).

These compounds play a crucial role in strong bone development. Calcium-potassium helps in nullifying the calcium loss via urine thus thinning bones (14).

6. Weight loss

Figs help in weight loss as it acts as a fuller because of abundant fibers. Magnesium and potassium present in figs also help in improving insulin function. Therefore allows greater sensitivity and stabilization of blood sugar level (15).

7. Aphrodisiac

Figs because of high amino acids, tannins, terpenoids, and magnesium act as an aphrodisiac. Studies done on animal models suggest that figs can be useful for increasing sperm motility and thus overcome male sterility (16).

8. Cures anemia

Figs are abundant in iron, therefore, recommended for people who are suffering from iron deficiency (anemia) (17).

9. Healthy eyes

Figs are rich in Vitamin A  and other antioxidants. As we all know vitamin A is important for healthy eyes as it prevents macular degeneration. Thus eating figs adds up to good vision and a healthy retina (18).

10. Lowers cholesterol

Figs are rich in soluble fibers (pectin), phytosterol, and tannins with moderate levels of flavonoids. These compounds act in lowering the cholesterol level of the body. Thus eating figs keep a check on cholesterol (19).

11. Hepatoprotective

Dried leaves of figs act as a hepatoprotective. Studies done on an animal model (20) shows that figs prevent liver damage in rifampicin-induced rats.

12. Prevent skin problem

Figs are used for the treatment of warts, hyperpigmentation, acne, freckles, and wrinkle (21).

They are a rich source of vitamin C and a very strong antioxidant which prevents skin melanin, transepidermal loss, hydration values, and sebum content, and free radicals (22).

13. Hair growth

Figs contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin-A, vitamin-E vitamin-C, and iron which promote hair growth. Figs are also contained Copper content that prevents premature greying (23).

Side effects of Fig fruits

Figs because of their high nutrient content are considered superfoods. Eating figs can eliminate or treat many types of health-related problems. But again with every health benefit of foods, there are side effects also. Eating too many figs is definitely harmful to the body. Some are listed below.

Figs contain oxalate: Oxalate compounds primarily affect kidney activity, therefore, eating too many figs can causes (24).

1. Osteoporosis

Oxalate hinders calcium absorption in the body, therefore, leads to a weak bone.

2. Hypocalcemia

Oxalate activity prevents calcium absorption therefore too many figs results in lower calcium level of the body.

3. Laxative

Figs are laxative in nature therefore too many figs results in loose stool or diarrhea.

4. Allergy

Fig and other Moraceae fruits contain allergens homologous to Bet v 1 people allergic to birch pollen may also be allergic to figs (25).

Healthy recipes

1. Figs can be baked for 45 minutes in the oven and enjoyed with honey.

2. Figs mixed with lavender and honey and make a well as a delicious syrup.