Figs are a unique fruit resembling a teardrop. They’re about the size of your thumb, filled with hundreds of tiny seeds, and have an edible purple or green peel. The flesh of the fruit is pink and has a mild, sweet taste. The scientific name for the fig is Ficus carica.

Figs — and their leaves — are packed with nutrients and offer a variety of potential wellness benefits. For example, they are said to promote strong digestion, decrease the risk of heart disease, and help balance blood sugar levels.

Along with the fruit, fig leaves and fig leaf tea are also said to have health benefits. Dried figs, in particular, may help relieve constipation. However, figs may interfere with blood-thinning medications due to their vitamin K content, and dried figs should be eaten in moderation due to their high sugar content. That said, fresh figs, fig leaves, and fig leaf tea make great additions to a healthy diet.

How to Select Fresh Figs

The shelf life of fresh figs is brief. They must be picked ripe from the trees as they do not ripen well once picked. A very firm fig is not ripe and will not properly ripen further. The prime harvesting season for fresh figs is mid-June to mid-October. If you see them in a market, buy them only if you plan to eat or use them soon. Fresh figs will spoil within seven to ten days of harvesting. In most cases, this means you have about three days at most to use them at home.