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Figs: Past, Present, and Future

Slavin, Joanne L. PhD, RD

Pleasures of the Table

Fig consumption by humans has been recorded since ancient times. The fig is the most mentioned fruit in the Bible. As early as 2000 BC, the medicinal properties of figs have been described. Unlike most fruits, figs are rich in calcium and iron and are considered a "keystone" plant resource for fruit-eating birds and mammals throughout the tropics. Most figs are now consumed as dried fruit and are a concentrated source of nutrients. A single serving of figs contains 20% of the daily value for dietary fiber, making them a useful snack item for Americans. In addition, figs are a concentrated source of benzaldehyde, which has been used for cancer prevention in animal studies. Ongoing research suggests that figs are a rich source of a wide range of phytochemicals with health promoting effects.

Full of fiber, figs have a lot to offer.

Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, is a professor at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. She is involved in research on the protective properties of foods in the human diet, especially that of whole grains, dietary fiber, and phytoestrogens.

Correspondence: Joanne L. Slavin, PhD, RD, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, 1334 Eckles Avenue, St Paul, MN 55108 (e-mail: jslavin@.umn.edu).

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.