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Nature is full of many wonderful treats that promote good health and can help minimize the negative effects of chronic diseases. It is a shame that many people choose to snack on processed candies rather than choose healthier options, such as figs. In fact, the majority of Americans have never eaten a real fig and do not know what one tastes like.

Fresh figs taste much like a cross between a strawberry and a peach. There exists hundreds of fig varieties that range in color from white to purplish-black. To grow figs of optimal quality, fig producers depend on near-perfect spring and early summer weather conditions and hope that no late frosts will appear. Normally, fig trees produce figs within about a month, and then stop producing for several months.

The best figs to choose are ones that are clean, dry, and have smooth skin. The skin is edible, so it is unnecessary to peel the skin off. Figs should be soft but not mushy, and the stems must be cut off prior to eating. It is best to store them in the refrigerator and eat them within two days as they will not last very long.

Figs make excellent snacks as part of a weight management plan because they are low in calories and fat free. They are also great sources of fiber, potassium, and calcium.

Fresh figs can be difficult to find in many grocery stores. A good alternative, however, are dried figs. Some stores, such as Fresh and Easy, sell Organic Calimyrna Dried Figs in convenient small packets. Calimyrna Figs are golden colored and possess a nutty taste. Dried figs can last considerably longer than fresh figs, so be sure to check the package for the expiration date.

Dried figs also make a great option for a pre-exercise snack, which many nutrition experts say can help enhance endurance and stamina during high intensity exercise. Some research suggests a pre-exercise snack can help you to perform 10% harder when you are nearing fatigue, as opposed to not eating anything prior to exercising.

Invest in your health by snacking on delicious fruit such as figs and saving the processed stuff for an occasional treat.

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References:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/fresh-figshttp://forsyth.ces.ncsu.edu/files/library/34/figs.pdfhttp://www.active.com/articles/eating-for-endurance-what-when-and-why

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