It’s fig season. Figs abound in the summer, and organic figs are available in most health food stores. They’re not the most popular fruit, but they have the distinction of being one of the healthiest of all fruits, and they are truly a communal and communicative fruit. They are the only fruit that has an opening, called the “ostiole” or “eye,” which is not connected to the tree. Uniquely, the fig’s eye increases its communication with its surrounding environment. How can you not love a fruit that is so human-like in its two-way communication ability?
In addition, according to recent research, figs also have the wonderful advantage of having specific anti-cancer properties. This should not surprise us since historically figs have been known to be a medicinal food. Contemporary research now tells us why.
Figs are High in Fiber
Since the 1970s it was thought that high fiber was protective against cancer. Recent studies, however, have been inconclusive. Nevertheless, the theory behind why high fiber is cancer-protective remains compelling, and perhaps research will one day catch up with sound reasoning. In theory, fiber protects specifically against colon cancers because insoluble fiber (the kind that is not digested) adds bulk to stools, thus moving the waste through the gastrointestinal tract more swiftly and efficiently. Fiber also discourages the growth of harmful bacteria and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria.
Nine bioactive compounds have been extracted from figs. Researchers are currently studying these compounds, but already fig extracts have proven toxic to melanoma, breast, stomach, throat, bone, brain, and liver cancers in the studies.
While dried figs contain even greater nutritional value than fresh figs, they are also higher in concentrated sugars, which can be a problem for cancer patients. Also, commercial dried fruits are often treated with sulfur dioxide gas and sulfites during processing. These compounds serve as preservatives to help prevent oxidation and bleaching of colors. Yet, they can cause adverse reactions. Organic figs, however, do not contain the sulfites.
My Favorite Way of Eating Figs
My favorite way of eating figs is to make a fig pudding. Add fresh figs (or organic dried figs to give a richer, sweeter flavor), some water, and lots of raw carob, and place in a blender. For a little crunch, add almonds, walnuts and/or sunflower seeds. You will get rave reviews for this healthy and unusual dessert.