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Fig or Anjeer is one of the most famous “exotic” fruits that is revered for its culinary and healing qualities all around the globe. This sweet and crunchy fruit isn’t just famous for its taste but it has been cultivated and used for its health benefits for thousands of years. In fact, anjeer is one of the most ancient fruits to be cultivated by humans the mentions of this fruit is in the holy book of the bible too. You will be amazed to know that the oldest samples of this fruit are available from the Neolithic era.

The Greeks considered it so precious that they would not allow it to be exported and gave the fig fruit as an honor to the winner of any competition. Not only this according to Roman mythology Remus and Romulus, the founders of Rome were suckled by she-wolf under the fig tree. They also mention the fertility boosting properties of this fruit too. Read on to find out more about this marvel fruit.

Some basic facts about Anjeer:

  • Botanical name: Ficus carica
  • Family: Moraceae/Mulberry family
  • Common names: Fig, Common fig, Anjeer/Anjir
  • Sanskrit name: Anjir, Anjeera
  • Parts used: Fruit, Leaves, bark, and roots
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Fig tree is believed to be the native of the Mediterranean and western parts of Asia though it is grown in most tropical and subtropical areas of the world including India, China, and Africa. Fig is also grown in the America and parts of Europe. Turkey is the largest producer of figs in the world.
  • Energetics: Cold

Anjeer tree:

Fig is a deciduous tree (sheds leaves once a year) and is one of the members of the huge genus Ficus which includes trees like mulberry, Banyan (Bargad) and “Peepal”.

Did you know?

Figs are actually inverted flowers instead of a true fruit so, one can very see flowers in a fig plant. Fig trees are pretty easy to grow and once planted they can take over the surrounding vegetation pretty fast. In fact, it has been included in the list of noxious weeds in the “Global compendium of weeds”. Generally, a ficus tree can grow up to the height of 20-30 feet and can be almost equally wide. The leaves are lobed and are one of the criteria for differentiating various varieties of Ficus (a group of trees which includes but is not limited to figs and mulberry).

  1. Health benefits of Anjeer
  2. How to eat Anjeer
  3. How many figs (Anjeer) to take per day
  4. Side effects of Anjeer (Figs)

Fig finds its way well in the kitchens and refrigerators. While you can incorporate the sweet crunchiness of this fruit in virtually any dessert, it’s nutritive and health benefits only add more to this fruit. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways that figs are beneficial for your health.

  • Relieves constipation: Anjeer has a good amount of dietary fibre. This fibre adds bulk to the food in your intestines and softens stools, facilitating their easy expulsion from the body. Also, it helps regularise bowel movements, which is one of the primary causes of constipation.
  • Helps lose weight: Figs are fibre rich low-calorie fruits which makes you feel full for a longer period of time without increasing your total calorie count. What else do you need in a good weight loss food? However, when taken with milk, it may promote weight gain instead. 
  • Preserves eye health: Figs contain ample amounts of vitamin A, a nutrient responsible for maintaining vision and preventing loss of eyesight. Not only this but also it is believed to reduce the risk of degenerative eye disorders which are currently incurable. It is best to talk to a doctor to know more.
  • Provides a good night's sleep: Research evidence suggests that figs promote the release of melatonin in body, which regularises your sleep-wake cycles and helps in insomnia management. It also increases serotonin levels in your brain. It is the pleasure hormone which reduces stress and anxiety, helping you sleep soundly.
  • Provides respite from piles: By regularising bowel movements and relieving constipation, figs help relieve excess pressure on your haemorrhoid tissues. Since it makes stools softer and facilitates their easier expulsion, it does not irritate the rectum or anus, thus preventing piles.
  • Improves liver function: Figs contain a repository of antioxidant and nutritive compounds. Preclinical studies suggest that these compounds, prevent liver damage and increase the detoxifying ability of liver. Though more studies are needed to confirm dosage and effects on humans.
  • Excellent antioxidant: Antioxidants are the compounds that revert free radical damage and slow down ageing. As a natural antioxidant, figs helps prevent age-related deterioration of organ function while at the same time reducing premature ageing signs like fine lines and dark spots.
  • Beneficial for anaemics: Figs are a good source of iron. Regular consumption of figs is found to be useful in preventing iron deficiency anaemia by increasing the amount of haemoglobin and red blood cells in your body.
  • Controls blood sugar levels: Research studies demonstrate the hypoglycemic (reducs blood sugar) action of fig. It increases insulin sensitivity and improves the uptake of excess sugar from your bloodstream, thus helping in diabetes management.
  • Beneficial for skin: Figs provide a good source of nourishment and natural antioxidants for your skin. It reduces free radical damage and makes your skin look more supple and youthful. It is suggested that fig latex application is as good as cryogenic treatment in removing warts.
  • Prevents hair loss: Just like your skin, figs nourish your scalp too. Being a good source of vitamin E and K, it helps maintain the natural shine of your hair, prevents hair greying and also reduces excessive hair loss.
  • Cough and cold remedy: Traditionally, fig juice is known to be an excellent remedy for cough and cold. Not only does it helps expel mucus from your lungs and airways but also it helps strengthen your throat muscles, preventing any relapse of the problem.
  • Regulates blood pressure: Studies have shown the positive effects of fig consumption on blood pressure. Anjeer contains a substantial amount of potassium, a mineral that helps balance out the negative effects of sodium on your heart and is essential in maintaining heart function. 
  • Improves kidney function: Figs are known to possess diuretic properties. By making you pee more, they help flush out excess toxins from your body, which is beneficial to kidney health. 
  • Reduces fever: Ethanolic extracts of fig leaves exhibits a strong antipyretic action, as suggested by medical studies. Remaining active for more than 5 hours, its action is claimed to be more effective than most commercial antipyretics.  
  • Figs for strong bones: Figs contain 3 of the most important minerals responsible for maintaining bone structure that is calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Regular consumption of fig keeps your bones strong and reduces the risk of fractures. 
  • Beneficial for pregnant women: The nutritive properties of fig makes it a perfect dietary addition for pregnant women. Vitamin B present in this fruit is known to relieve morning sickness in early pregnancy and its calcium reserves protect maternal bones from being weak while also helping in foetal development.
  1. Anjeer benefits for kidneys
  2. Anjeer reduces fever
  3. Anjeer for bones
  4. Anjeer for pregnancy
  5. Anjeer for constipation
  6. Anjeer for weight loss
  7. Anjeer benefits for eyes
  8. Anjeer fo sleep
  9. Anjeer for piles
  10. Anjeer for a healthy liver
  11. Figs (Anjeer) as antioxidant
  12. Anjeer for anemia
  13. Anjeer for diabetes
  14. Anjeer benefits for skin
  15. Anjeer for hair loss
  16. Anjeer for lung problems
  17. Anjeer for blood pressure

Anjeer benefits for kidneys

Figs are known to be naturally diuretic which means they clear away the toxins from the body and flush out the extra salts and water from the kidneys thereby, keeping the kidney healthier and the body free from toxins. A toxin free body doesn’t only function better but it also ages gracefully.

Anjeer reduces fever

Fig leaves are a known antipyretic (reduces body temperature and fever) in ayurveda. Recently, medical studies suggest that an ethanol extract of fig leaves have strong antipyretic properties which depended on the dose of the extract. The effect was shown to last for about five hours which is much more efficient than the most common commercial antipyretic.

(Read more: Fever causes and treatment)

Anjeer for bones

Bones make up the basic support structure of the body and you would agree that maintaining a good bone health is one of the basic necessities of life. Unfortunately, as we grow older, there is a natural shedding of calcium from the bones. Thus, the natural cycles of our body make it easier for the bones to grow weaker and suffer more wear and tear. As a result, we suffer from bone fractures easily in the older ages and diseases like osteoporosis may occur. Fortunately, we can avoid or slow down our bones from aging by taking a calcium supplement in our diet. While there are a lot of commercial calcium supplements available everywhere in the market, they do have some minor side effects in the possibility of over calcium deposition and stones formation in the body. Figs as a natural source of calcium would thus be much more beneficial to take in with your diet to keep your bones and teeth healthier for longer. The calcium content in fig is said to be equal to that of skimmed milk (about 28 gm of figs is said to cover for about 5% of your daily need for calcium). Along with calcium, figs are also rich in magnesium and phosphorus which are two more bone enriching minerals.

Anjeer for pregnancy

The highly nutritive qualities of figs make it one of the highly recommended foods for pregnant women. It helps women to meet a lot of their vitamins and mineral requirements during this time. First, figs are a good source of calcium which is one of the highly needed minerals in fetus development and to keep the mother’s bone healthy. Then, the vitamin B content in the fruit helps them deal with the morning sickness in the first trimester of the pregnancy. However, overeating should be avoided and it’s always best to talk to your doctor for the proper dosage if you are looking forward to taking fig as a medicine and tonic.

Anjeer for constipation

Figs are a very high source of dietary fibre and the most important benefit of a fibre-rich diet is that it adds bulk to the food and makes the stools soft thus helping in easy elimination of stools from the body. So, grab yourself a bowl of figs salad for breakfast and keep the constipation woes miles away.

Anjeer for weight loss

The high levels of fiber in anjeer fruits would bulk up the intestines and give you a feeling of being full for a much longer period of time. This would increase the time between your meals and thus help you in eating less. Also, figs are lower in calories, so, in spite of making you feel full, they don’t increase your calorie count. Don’t we all dream of such a food that tastes as good and doesn't sew up your clothes tighter overnight. However, fig is very nutritious and when taken with milk it can also lead to weight gain. It is better to check in with your doctor once before consuming figs especially if you are overweight.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Anjeer benefits for eyes

Figs are known to be good source of Vitamin A which is the most important nutrient responsible for maintaining eyesight and to keep the eye healthy. Regular consumption of figs is believed to not only be good for eyes but it’s known to help in delaying age related eyes disorders like macular degeneration which is a gradual loss of vision caused due to the dying cells of the retina of eye and is currently incurable

Anjeer fo sleep

Can’t sleep at night? Do you suffer from not getting sleep (insomnia)? Studies show that melatonin (a type hormone) is responsible for maintaining the sleep/wake rhythms of our body. A disbalance in this hormone can not only lead to sleep pattern disturbance but may also lead to feeling anxious and easily irritated. Figs are a very good source of the amino acid tryptophan which has a direct effect on increasing the levels of melatonin in the body. Studies suggest that a regular consumption of figs leads to a rise in tryptophan levels in the body and thus stimulating the timely release of melatonin in the body which is rightly called the “ sleep hormone”. Numerous researches claim that taking tryptophan right before sleep helps balance melatonin thus making you sleep more easily.

Furthermore, figs are also rich in magnesium and according to doctors, magnesium is very helpful to get a longer and better sleep at night. When you think that is all, tryptophan also acts as a stimulant for another mood enhancing hormone called serotonin which acts directly on your brain and gives you a calm and happier feeling.

Additionally, fig fruit is rich in natural sugars which is also considered a mood elevating compound by doctors. Good amount of serotonin levels are known to be essential to avoid the neurological problems like anxiety and depression.

Anjeer for piles

Piles is a condition marked by inflammation in or around the anus which leads to pains and bleeding while passing stools. The exact reason for this problem is unclear but one of the very common reasons include a low fibre diet and improper bowel movements. Fig fruit has a solution for both. The high fibre content in figs helps regulate the bowel movement and make the stools softer so it can pass easily through the anus. Reducing the pressure exerted on the rectum.

Anjeer for a healthy liver

Fig is a good source of antioxidants which are the body’s best defense against any kind of oxidative damage in the body. Along with its nutritive properties, figs can help remove the toxins from the liver and improve the overall liver health. Animal studies have confirmed the hepatoprotective abilities of this fruit but there is still no proof of its effect on the human liver. So it’s advisable to ask your doctor about the direct effects of fig on your liver.

Figs (Anjeer) as antioxidant

If you are one of those people who want to look young and radiant you may be knowing about antioxidants. They not only help in scavenging all the free radicals from the body (harmful oxygen which is toxic for the body) but they are very beneficial for maintaining the health of various organs like the heart and liver. Scientists suggest that the phenols and flavonoids (a kind of naturally occurring chemical compound) in figs is what makes it such a wonderful antioxidant. Furthermore, antioxidants also decrease the oxidative stress in the body and decrease a lot of age-related problems including premature aging.

(Read more: Antioxidant rich food)

Anjeer for anemia

According to a recent research, about 51% of women in India in the age range of 15-50 are anemic. One of the top factors responsible for this problem is the deficiency of iron in the diet. Figs are a rich source of iron which is one of the crucial components of haemoglobin (the compound present in the blood cells that helps in transferring oxygen in the body) Studies have shown that regular consumption of figs leads to an increase in the haemoglobin content of the blood and a general increase in the blood cell count. The protein and vitamin B content in this fruit also play a major role in increasing the red blood cell count of the blood.

(Read more: Anaemia types)

Anjeer for diabetes

Studies suggest that consumption of fig fruit is helpful in lowering the blood sugar levels. A research conducted on figs highlighted that a regular consumption of this fruit increases the insulin sensitivity to glucose thus more sugars are taken off the blood. However, It is best to check with your doctor especially if you are suffering from diabetes.

Anjeer benefits for skin

Figs have been in use in the traditional and folk medicine systems for its benefits in treating skin diseases like psoriasis, acne, and eczema. When applied topically, they have a nourishing and antioxidant effect on the skin. A study done in Iran suggests that topical application of the latex of fig fruit is almost as effective in treating warts as the cryogenic treatment(freezing to a very low temperature and then cutting it off). The exact mode of action is unknown but scientists believe that the fig latex has some proteolytic (breaks down proteins) activity that is responsible for removing warts so effectively.

Anjeer for hair loss

The nutritive and antioxidant effect of figs is not only beneficial in dealing with most of the scalp problems but it also nourishes the hairs and conditions them well. Using fig seed oil topically is known to give your hairs that dose of vitamin E and vitamin K which is very important to maintain their natural shine and preventing hair loss.

Anjeer for lung problems

Fig juice is a known remedy against cough and cold. In ayurveda, the consumption of fig fruit is known to eliminate the extra mucus from the throat and provides nutrition to the throat muscles. Therefore, anjeer not only help you heal from sore throat but also help strengthen the throat enough to avoid any relapse of this problem. Together these properties make figs a very potent agent against chronic coughs and other similar respiratory problems.

Anjeer for blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the most common problems you may come across these days. What was once a problem for the middle age, it has now become prevalent in all age groups and genders across the world. While mental stress could cause high blood pressure in most people; lifestyle problems, obesity, and food choices have a big part in this, regular intake of salty and savoury foods increases the amount of sodium in the body thus creating an imbalance in the salt levels of our body. The salt that balances the body sodium levels is potassium. Studies have shown that regular consumption of figs is a good source of potassium.very beneficial in lowering the blood pressure. The fruit is rich in potassium which is one of the very important minerals responsible for maintaining the blood pressure levels to normal in the body.

How are figs used?

Figs can be consumed freshly, right after it is plucked from the tree. But the availability and storage of fresh figs are not so common. Hence the preserved or dry form of the food is mostly consumed.

While the fresh fruit is known to be a bit juicier. the dry fruit is sweet, chewy and its seeds give it a distinct crunch that just makes it worth every bite. What better than a yummy dose of therapeutic fruit. If you are looking for ways to add figs into your daily regime you would be glad to know that dried figs can be taken alone or in salads or with the morning cereals and cornflakes. It can also be added to milk or with other fruits to make smoothies and milkshake or they can be incorporated into your Halwa, cakes, bread, puddings etc. It is also available in a lot of these forms of confectionaries in the market and if you want to have an alternative for your overdose of coffee, figs are also used commercially available in the form of instant coffee packs. The sweet flavour of figs makes it perfect for giving that natural sweetness to desserts. However, if you are buying figs from the market make sure you read the labels carefully and look for expiry date and added preservatives.

Dried fig or fresh fig?

Apart from the loss of water and some amount of water-soluble nutrients, there isn’t much difference in the nutritional qualities of the dried and fresh fig. In fact, fig is known to be a better nutritional supplement when taken in dry forms. The phenolic contents and the antioxidant qualities in dry figs are found to be much higher than that of the fresh fig.

Buying fig fresh:

If you are going to buy fresh figs from the market, look for whole figs with no bruises and choose the figs which are bright in colour. Fresh figs contain a lot of sugars and have a good amount of water so it’s desirable to consume them within 2 days of buying. Don’t consume figs if you notice any bitter taste or see a mouldy growth. It’s important to keep the fresh figs safe as they are very delicate and tend to bruise easily.

You can also buy unripe figs and let them ripe naturally at room temperature before you consume them. Due to the lesser water content, dried figs can last a bit longer than the unripe figs at room temperature when stored in a cool and dry place. if you live in a hot and humid climate it’s better to refrigerate the dry figs where they can last up to 6-8 months. However, If you notice any foul smell or mould growth it’s better to discard them.

Ideally, 3-5  figs or 40 gms can be taken per day without much side effects but it's advisable to refer to your ayurveda doctor for the ideal dosage according to your body type, age, and gender.

A paste of yogurt and figs can be applied topically to obtain a refreshing and more vital looking skin.

  • Some people are naturally allergic to fig. Fig is very effective in treating constipation due to its laxative effects but taking excess amount of figs can cause diarrhea.
  • If you are already taking any blood thinning medicines it's advisable to check with your doctor before taking fig in any amount in your diet because the vitamin K present in figs is a natural blood thinner and may add onto the effects of the medicine leading to even more thinning of blood.
  • Fig leaf can increase skin sensitivity when applied topically. It is suggested not to apply fig leaf paste on skin before going out in the sun.
  • Fig lowers the blood sugar levels in the body so if you are a diabetic who is already taking medicines to lower blood sugar or if you generally have low blood glucose levels, it is highly recommended to talk to your doctor before consuming figs.
  • Fig is a natural blood thinner so, if you are about to undergo surgery or have recently had a surgery, it’s better not to take fig for two weeks. Ask your doctor if you can resume figs post surgery. While fig fruit is very good for flushing out extra toxins from the kidney, it rich in oxalates (a type of naturally occurring biological compound). These oxalates bind to calcium in the body to make calcium oxalate which is known to be the main culprit behind most kidney and gallbladder stones. So, moderation must be followed while consuming anjeer.
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References

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  2. Sergio D. Paredes, et al. Melatonin and Tryptophan Affect the Activity–Rest Rhythm, Core and Peripheral Temperatures, and Interleukin Levels in the Ringdove: Changes With Age. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009 Mar; 64A(3): 340–350. PMID: 19211547
  3. Glenda Lindseth, Brian Helland, Julie Caspers. The Effects of Dietary Tryptophan on Affective Disorders. Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2015 Apr; 29(2): 102–107. PMID: 25858202
  4. Simon N. Young. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 Nov; 32(6): 394–399. PMID: 18043762
  5. Inam QU1, Ikram H1, Shireen E1, Haleem DJ2. Effects of sugar rich diet on brain serotonin, hyperphagia and anxiety in animal model of both genders.. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2016 May;29(3):757-63. PMID: 27166525
  6. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases [Internet]. National Institute of Health; Healthy Bones Matter.