Galenus stated that the guardians of vineyards all grew fat because they ate so many figs and grapes. This will be readily understood when e consider how nourishing these fruits are; the property which especially characterizes figs and tropical fruits in general is the great amount of sugar they contain, which in the dried fruits is sometimes simply enormous ; so that they would amply suffice for the entire amount of carbohydrate required per day. Furthermore there is also much less acid in dried fruits; so their sweetness is not in any way diminished by the latter, as is the case in the other fruits. The fig is one of the southern fruits most used by us; in the fresh state it is very juicy and has a very pleasant taste. The quantity of little seeds contained in figs does less harm in the digestion than is the case with berries. Figs have a stimulating effect upon the bowels both in the fresh and the dried state, as these minute seeds exert a slight mechanical irritation. Fresh figs are easily digested, but not the dried ones, which contain much cellulose7.82 per cent., according to Balland.
We see by the above that dried figs are a most nourishing food. In studying the Koran, I found allusion to this fact. in the “Surat al Tin.” According to the commentaries of Sale and Halaleddin, the fig is a very healthful and easily digested food, which is much prized by the Orientals as a remedy in kidney and bladder troubles, gallstones, hemorrhoids, and gout). Among the dried figs those imported from Smyrna are most easily digested, and they also have the best taste. Dates are even sweeter, but they are more difficult to digest. They are frequently as sweet as honey; according to my experience, I consider the fresh ones which come from Tunis the easiest to digest. When they are dried they are very hard and must be especially well masticated.
Dates contain almost twice as much phosphoric acid as do figs. In the fresh substance they contain 0.12 per cent of phosphorus and 0.29 per cent. of phosphoric acid, while figs have o.07 per cent. phosphorus and 0.17 per cent. of phosphoric acid. I find that when dates are not old they are not particularly difficult to digest, and they should be more used.
Dried grapes, which come to us as raisins from Greece or Smyrna, contain a very large amount of sugar; they are principally used in cooking as additions to other foods, such as rice, pastry, etc. Even when in the dried state they are, ac-cording to my experience, a useful article of diet; I have frequently eaten, after a vegetarian meal, as much as 1/4 kilo, naturally without the seeds. When the seeds are removedin Greece and in the Orientthe process of removal does not seem to be carried on with any great degree of cleanliness ; it is consequently advisable to clean the raisins well before using them. The Malaga grapes, which also come to us in the dried state, are somewhat more difficult to digest, and they always contain the seeds.
According to Balland, raisins contain 0.41 per cent. of protein, 0.56 per cent. fat, and the very large amount of 74.60 per cent. of sugar, together with 2 per cent, of other carbohydrates and less than 2 per cent. of cellulose. Raisins are probably the most useful of the varieties mentioned above, since they contain much more sugar, and are not indigestible for a healthy stomach ; when cooked they can also be digested by delicate stomachs. They may consequently be recommended in a strictly vegetarian diet, and each meal, especially of the fruit-and nut- eating vegetarians, should end with a generous supply of raisins. In 1/4 kilo about 750 calories are furnished; and when in addition dried bananas, English walnuts, and pistachio nuts are used, a very nourishing meal will have been taken. Nuts containing quite appreciable quantities of albumin, such as groundnuts and almonds, are valuable adjuncts to the daily ration of a fruit-eating vegetarian.