Food in the Spotlight

Figs in the Mediterranean Diet – Why You Need It

Are you actively looking for ways to bring down your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and achieve better cardiovascular health in the process? If you are, you may need to consider adding figs to your daily Mediterranean diet. For all you know, it may be the only thing you need to solve all your heart-related problems.

figsAre you actively looking for ways to bring down your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and achieve better cardiovascular health in the process? If you are, you may need to consider adding figs to your daily Mediterranean diet. For all you know, it may be the only thing you need to solve all your heart-related problems.

A Deeper Look into the Nutritional Content of Figs

Figs can play a vital role in promoting better cardiovascular health. It contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6 and manganese, among others. So, how does this tiny but mighty fruit help fight heart disease? Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Fiber
One serving or approximately 3 to 5 pieces of fresh figs can provide you with about 5 mg of dietary fiber (3.5 mg of insoluble fiber and 1.5 mg of soluble fiber) or about 20% of the recommended Daily Value. So, what can it do for your heart? Well, if you still don’t know, getting sufficient amounts of dietary fiber into your diet can help keep your cholesterol level in check. Now, that’s definitely good news for about 16.3% of the total adult American population who currently have high blood cholesterol levels and are running twice the risk of heart disease as compared to their healthier counterparts, don’t you think so?

If you want to know exactly how fiber helps in regulating your blood cholesterol level, here’s how it do it. Soluble fiber binds with the bile (a substance produced by the liver that aids in the digestion of food) before it exits your body through the process of elimination. This is extremely important since the liver uses cholesterol in producing bile. Now, when you don’t have sufficient soluble fiber in your diet, there is no need for the liver to draw in the cholesterol from your bloodstream since it does not need to produce more bile. When this happens, you’ll end up with more cholesterol than your body needs.

Additionally, figs can also help stop the formation of cholesterol. Once the soluble fiber starts to ferment in the colon, it produces certain compounds that deter the production of cholesterol. Now, are you starting to see why you need to eat more of this fiber-rich fruit? Well, I certainly hope so.

Potassium
A single serving of figs (about 3 to 5 pieces of fresh fruit or about ¼ cup of dried figs) contain 244 to 354 mg of potassium or about 7% to 10% of the recommended Daily Value. This is very important since most people tend to eat processed foods that contain high amounts of sodium (salt). As you very well know, a high-sodium, low-potassium diet leads to hypertension.

Considering this fact, you may be glad to know that according to the results of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study, eating a highly plant-based and low-fat dairy diet for as short as eight weeks may result in a significant decrease in the systolic (5.5 points) and diastolic (3.0 points) pressure. Can this finding prompt you to start adding figs to your Mediterranean diet?

Calcium and Magnesium
Figs contain about 53 mg of calcium and 8.5 mg of magnesium per 50 gram serving of dried figs or ½ cup of fresh figs. Experts prove that these two nutrients work hand in hand in promoting the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Aside from promoting better cardiovascular health, adding figs into your Mediterranean diet can also help you manage your weight, promote better bone health, relieve sleep-induced problems such as insomnia, aid in the proper digestion of food and treat chronic constipation. Research also proved that this amazing fruit can help relieve fatigue, boost memory and brain power, regulate your insulin level and ward off certain cancers as well.

With all the amazing health benefits you can get from the small but mighty figs, don’t you think it’s about time you consider adding it to your diet? Believe me, it is definitely one of the best decisions you can ever make!

Here’s to better health,
Ray Baker