FRUIT OF PARADISE
About a year ago, I wrote an article THE WONDER FIBRE in the Heritage Magazine which was very much appreciated by the readers and I got many calls asking about the various beneficial aspects about the use of ISABGHOL.
Greatly encouraged by this response, this time I would like to dilate upon a common edible commodity which is also known as the FRUIT OF PARADISE. Most of you visit the market to buy dry fruits but very few of you bother to bring this fruit of paradise home for consumption.
I myself have been consuming this fruit for the past 30 years as a sweet appetizer but I did not know about the great medicinal and health benefits of this fruit of paradise till date when my research led to this fact that cases of A.R.M.D (Age Related Macular Disorders) that the medicinal properties of figs are very beneficial to A.R.M.D patients and Protection against Macular Degeneration. I as a consultant ophthalmologist now prescribe and advise my patients of A.R.M.D to consume this fruit of paradise.
Reference of this fruit of paradise can be taken from SURA 95, of the THE HOLY QURAN which is named AL-TĪN (Arabic for "The Fig"), as it opens with the oath "By the fig and the olive. Within the Hadith, SAHIH UL-BUKHARI records that The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stating: "If I had to mention a fruit that descended from paradise, I would say that it is because the paradisiacal fruits do not have pits...eat from these fruits for they prevent hemorrhoids, piles and help in gout."
The common FIG (Ficus carica) is a species of flowering plant in the genus Ficus. It is the source of the fruit which is also called fig. It has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times, and is now widely grown throughout the temperate world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.
The fig tree is a deciduous large shrub, growing up to a height of 7–10 metres. It has fragrant leaves which are 12–25 cm long and 10–18 cm across.
The botanical specification of fig plant is very complex as it comprises of an inflorescence which consists of a hollow fleshy structure called the SYCONIUM, which is lined with numerous unisexual flowers.
The flower itself is not visible outwardly, as it blooms inside the INFRUCTESCENCE. Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig is actually the INFRUCTESCENCE or scion of the tree, known as a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds are borne. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the middle of the fruit is a narrow passage, which allows the specialized fig wasp Blastophaga psenes to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, where after the fruit grows seeds.
The fertilized female wasp enters the fig through the scion, which is a tiny hole in the crown (the ostiole). She crawls on the inflorescence inside the fig and pollinates some of the female flowers. She lays her eggs inside some of the flowers and dies.
The edible fruit consists of the mature SYCONIUM containing numerous one-seeded fruits (druplets). The fruit is 3–5 cm long, with a green skin, sometimes ripening towards purple or brown. The sap of the fig's green parts is an irritant to the human skin.
The fig plant can tolerate seasonal drought, and the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climate is especially ideal for the plant. If situated in favorable surroundings, old specimens when mature can reach a considerable size and form a large dense shady tree.
It thrives in both sandy and rocky soils. As the sun is really important for its growth some varieties are more adapted to harsh and wet climates.
Common fig tree is mostly a PHREATOPHYTE (a plant with a deep root system that draws its water supply from near the water table.) that lives in areas with standing or running water, grows well in the valleys of the rivers and ravines saving no water, having strong need of water that is extracted from the ground. The deep-rooted plant searches groundwater, in aquifers, ravines, or cracks in the rocks.
The fig tree, with the water, cools the environment in hot places, creating a fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that take shelter in its shade in the times of intense heat.
Fig fruit is an important food source for much of the fauna in some areas, and the tree owes its expansion and survival to those that feed on its fruit.
Two crops of figs are potentially produced each year. The first or BREBA CROP develops in the spring on last year's shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year's shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality to the BREBA crop.
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, once picked the shelf life is short.
Dried figs are a rich source of dietary fiber and essential minerals, like manganese, while vitamin K and numerous other minerals are in moderate content.
Figs contain diverse phytochemicals, including polyphenols such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, catechin, epicatechin and rutin.
The Health benefits of figs are that it is low in calories, excellent source of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants such as carotenes, lutein, tannins, and chlrogenic acid.
Research has suggested that chlorogenic acid helps lower sugar levels and controls blood-glucose levels in type II Diabetes Mellitus.
Dried figs also contain Calcium, copper, potassium manganese, iron, selenium and zinc and the B-complex group of vitamin such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates and pantothenic acid.
Apart from this fresh fig also contains adequate levels of some of the anti – oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, E and K, which have a protective affect from cancers, diabetes degenerative and infectious diseases.
It is important to wash figs in cold water and then mop and dry those using soft cloth and tissue then one may eat fresh figs whole or peeled.
In some people eating fig fruits may cause elicit allergic reactions ranging from vomiting, diarrhea and itching of skin and mucus membranes. Those people who have allergy to figs may exercise caution in eating figs.
It is a sweet way to lose weight as figs are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber and fiber-rich foods may have a positive effect on weight management.
The leaves of the figs have repeatedly been shown to have anti-diabetic properties and can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by persons with diabetes who require insulin injections.
Some studies have shown that they have good effect on the Cardiovascular system as they have been shown to lower levels of triglycerides (a form in which fats circulate in the bloodstream).
So next time when you go to the market please ensure that the purchase of fig fruit is on the top priority of your shopping list.
EAT FIGS AND STAY HEALTHY…..
DR. BABUR ZAHIRUDDIN