With the colder season it is easy to find dried figs on the shelves of supermarkets and specialized shops, small delicious beauties that you can hardly resist. Dried figs are produced by dehydration of the fig fruits, scientific name Ficus Carica. These delicacies are not only tasty, they are in fact a really healthy snack, but with some cautions as we will see.
Dried figs, properties
Dried figs are an important source of vitamins, such as vitamins C and A, minerals, such as iron, potassium and calcium, carbohydrates and energy (USDA Food and Data Centraol - Mawa et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2013). Not only that, they also provide high amounts of fiber and antioxidant substances such as polyphenols and proanthocyanidins. Indeed, compared to fresh figs, dried figs have higher quantities of antioxidants since you eat everything from dried figs, even the peel, which is a precious source of phenolic compounds (Arvaniti et al, Food Res Int, 2019). And the properties of dried figs do not end there, dried figs are considered indeed hepatoprotective and antispasmodic and therefore useful in case of intestinal problems (Mawa et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2013 - Turan et al, Int J Biol Macromol, 2016). In fact, the intake of 4 dried figs per day in people with irritable bowel syndrome has led to an improvement in symptoms, such as pain, swelling and constipation (Pourmasoumi et al, Explore, 2019). Not only that, given their action against free radicals and given their ability to inhibit the aceticolinesterase enzyme, dried figs are also considered neuroprotective (Loizzo et al, J Sci Food Agric, 2014). In fact, acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is inactivated by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. In case of Alzheimer's, acetylcholine is present in low quantities, therefore, the inhibition of the enzyme aceticolinesterase should increase the concentration of acetylcholine and improve memory. This is precisely how various drugs used against Alzheimer's work.
Dried figs, how to choose them and pay attention to the label
Sometimes dried figs can be treated with sulfur dioxide, labeled with the initials E220, to preserve them longer and keep their brighter color. If possible, it would be good to limit the consumption of foods containing sulphites, including sulfur dioxide, as, in predisposed people, it could cause allergic problems and asthma (Freedman, Br J Dis CHest, 1980). Not only that, it is also necessary to ensure that dried figs are of good quality because they could be contaminated with aflatoxins, which are carcinogenic and toxic mycotoxins that mainly affect the liver (Kumar et al, Front Microbiol, 2016).