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4 July 2011

The Common fig (Ficus carica)

Figs are now in season in Tunisia.  I love figs!  Not only are they delicious but they are also high in nutritional value.  "Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber."



"The Common fig (Ficus carica) is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Portugal). It grows to a height of 6.9–10 metres (23–33 ft) tall, with smooth grey bark. The leaves are 12–25 centimetres (4.7–9.8 in) long and 10–18 centimetres (3.9–7.1 in) across, and deeply lobed with three or five lobes. The fruit is 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin, sometimes ripening towards purple or brown. The sap of the fig's green parts is an irritant to human skin.

Production statistics
FAO reports the 2005 fig-production was 1,057,000 tonnes; Turkey was the top fig-producer (280,000 tonnes), followed by Egypt (170,000 tonnes) and other Mediterranean countries.  Aydın, İzmir and Muğla region, which used to be called antique Caria region, are the top fig-producers in Turkey.


Nutrition
Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin and rutin. In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity."
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