Anjeer or fig: A fruit of Heaven
The fig or Anjeer, botanically called Ficus carica belongs to the mulberry family Moraceae. The fig trees the earliest one which has been cultivated in old age. It was originated in the Mediterranean and western Asia regions. Turkey, Syria, Greece, Spain, Iran, China and Mexico are the major producers of fig in the world. Pakistan is also growing it on small scale in some parts of KPK, Sindh and Punjab. Pakistan at present imports fig to meet the domestic need. However, proper and managed cultivation can save the money spent on its import.
Fig plant is largely distributed from tropical to subtropical climatic conditions and performs best in loamy and light sandy soil with proper drainage system. For raising fig plant different propagation methods have been discovered such as budding, grafting and layering but most reliable and quick is stem cutting. Propagation through seed is rarely used because it developed poor quality fruit.
Dried Figs give pleasant taste when consumed raw. The fig fruit has great texture and taste with smooth skin, crunchy edible seeds and delicious chewy flesh. Figs are nutritious and luscious fruit mostly used in dry form throughout the year. The skin color varies from green to purple or almost black during different stages of development, while the flesh from red to pink.
Figs nutrition and health benefits
Figs have been-mentioned in Holy Quran and Christian scriptures as a fruit of heaven. It has magical influence on human health. Naturally dried figs are excellent concentrated source of vitamins and minerals.
The following are some beneficial features.
• High blood pressure can be control by using figs. It is helpful in the sense it contains potassium, which reduces hypertension. Most of the people in the world who consume sodium more in their diet and make less use of fruits and vegetables; they are more prone to potassium deficiency. So in that case these people become more vulnerable to hypertension.
• Figs are a great source of dietary fiber; it could help people to lose weight. Research also shows that women who regularly consume fiber rich fruit, minimize the risk of cancer.
• In some cultural beliefs, the fig tree leaves possess anti-diabetic properties, good for diabetic patients and reduces the need for insulin injections.
• Figs consumption leads to make bone physically more strong because it is a good source of calcium, which enhances bone density.
• A person who suffers from cardiac problem should consume the leaves of fig tree which are responsible for reducing the level of triglycerides, a type of fat group found in the blood stream. So figs are good for cardiac performance.
• Manganese is found abundant in figs, benzaldehyde; an anti-cancer compound along with beta carotene; potassium, iron and source of vitamin A and B complex also vitamin K. There are flavonoids and ficain, which work as digestion enzyme.
• Figs are helpful for preventing constipation, anemia, and digestion.
• Due to good source of dietary fiber, figs are very beneficial for digestive system. It is not only limited to improve metabolism but also provides relief from stomach related diseases like indigestion and constipation. Its regular use in daily diet is also very beneficial in curing piles.
• An enzyme known as pectin found in rich quantity, which can reduce your blood cholesterol level.
• Calcium is abundant in fig, which is vital for bone health. If you dont like to drink milk then consume atleast 1 or 2 fig daily for better physical health.
• Figs are widely used for the treatment of problems related with fertility of the male reproductive system, it promote sexual ability and power.
• Figs benefits include enhancing your memory power. However, numerous constituents of figs are very helpful in curing sleeplessness and insomnia.
• Due to rich quantity of iron, fig daily consumption can overcome anemia and iron deficiency.
• Fig also provides benefits to prevent coronary heart disease because dried fig contain phenol omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
• Figs constituents provide antioxidants properties. It is believed that, use of figs in diet at regular basis will help in keeping yourself younger for long time.
• If you have skin acne problems like pimples on face, simply take 2 fig crush in hand make paste then apply on face, after drying rinse with fresh cold water. By repeating the process in a week will be beneficial for your skin.
However, various nutrients composition makes the fig more nutritious and beneficial for human health. The above listed are more common fig benefits, while according to my knowledge I have not found any side effects regarding fig consumption except excessive intake leads to diarrhea and dried fig contain high content of sugar so excessive use may lead to tooth decay. According to the increasing domestic demand of fig fruit as well as its export value there is a need to make Pakistan a fig growing and exporting country so that better foreign exchange could be obtained.
Barani Agriculture Research Institute, Chakwal has developed a variety namely “Black Ball” which performing well in barani as well as in irrigated areas of Punjab.
The author is a student from the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.