Figs and Olives

Different in taste and properties, one is a sweet fruit, while the other is salty, pungent, and oily.

January 22, 2015
Figs and Olives
Figs and Olives
Samar Yahya


Samar Yahya

Saudi Gazette



Different in taste and properties, one is a sweet fruit, while the other is salty, pungent, and oily. But eaten together, they are a powerhouse of health-giving nutrients.

Figs and olives are extremely important food products from the Mediterranean region and they have numerous health benefits. Their benefits are affirmed in the Holy Qur’an, in the chapter “At-Tin”.

{By the Fig and the Olive, And the Mount of Sinai, And this City of security, We have indeed created man in the best of moulds} (Chapter 21, verses 1-4)


Figs are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an to identify their distinct health benefits among other fruits: {By the fig, and the olive.} Chapter 21, verse 1)

It is a fruit from paradise. A single serving of figs is higher in fiber than any other fresh or dried fruit. Figs are low in calories, with 100g of the fresh fruits providing only 74 calories.

Figs are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, and are an excellent source of polyphenols, which play a role in fighting disease. Nutritionists describe eating figs, which are rich in fiber, as an ideal way of increasing one’s fiber intake.

Research studies identified that chlorogenic acid in figs help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes.

Moreover, studies have found that even fig leaves lower the amount of insulin required by diabetics. It is beneficial to patients of hypertension and good for bones and its high potassium content helps avoid calcium loss in urine. It is also anti-cancerous, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.


The olive tree is a hardy tree that grows to less than 10 meters. It is an evergreen tree with leaves that are pale green above and silvery below. Olives have been mentioned seven times in the Holy Qur’an and their health benefits have been used in Prophetic medicine.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “Take oil of olive and massage with it — it is a blessed tree.” (D?rimi, 69:103) From this ‘blessed’ tree hardly anything is wasted, as the fruits are eaten or used to produce olive oil, the leaves possess medicinal value, and the wood of the tree is highly valued for carpentry work.

It has been revealed, in recent years, that the olive is not just a delicious food but also represents an important source of good health. In addition to the olive itself, olive oil is also an important source of nutrition, it improves the balance of fats within the blood as well as lowers cholesterol levels.

Unlike the unhealthy saturated fats that contribute to an increase in the oxidation of cholesterol which can clog arteries, olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and it actually helps lower the bad type of cholesterol (LDL).

 Moreover, olives are good for the stomach. Olive oil has a healing effect on ulcers and gastritis. And mothers attest that rubbing warm olive oil on a colicky baby’s tummy will help relieve him of gas, cramps, and pain. Olive oil also increases the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones. Thus, it lowers the chance of gallstone formation. Apart from heart disease, olives are also known to reduce the incidence of colon cancer.

Olives and olive oil are said to be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in women going through menopause.

Olives are rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that neutralizes damaging free radicals, along with polyphenols and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

It is the combination of all these health-boosting compounds that give olives and olive oil the properties to help reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, prevent heart disease, and prevent colon cancer.

In some studies, patients of rheumatoid arthritis showed much improvement when they used fish oil supplements in combination with olive oil. It also has a protective effect against the development of colorectal cancer. Olive oil has anti-hypertensive effects, antioxidant activity, prevents oxidative DNA damage and so has anti-carcinogenic effect on cells, protects against breast cancer, and decreases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Scientists drawn to the study of the health benefits of figs and olives found that the use of figs alone or of olives alone did not give the expected benefit to human health. Japanese scientists studies found out that the best way to maximize health benefits was to eat these heavenly foods in a ratio of: 1 fig to 7 olives.

And miraculously, in the Holy Qur’an figs have been mentioned once and olives seven times, out of which six explicit times and once implicitly. Therefore, they should both be included in an individual’s daily diet intake. Their health benefits and healing properties have been revered for centuries by traditional healers.


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