This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Figs and dates are chiefly eaten in the United States in the dry form, although in California and elsewhere they may be obtained fresh. These fruits hold large quantities of sugar, especially in their dry state, in which this ingredient is not only concentrated, but changed in the drying process. They also contain a little nitrogenous material, so that they have more nutritive value than many fruits; in fact, in some Eastern countries they constitute a staple article of diet, as illustrated by the use of the date in Arabia.
Figs have a decided aperient action, which is chiefly, but not solely, owing to their seeds. Three or four dried figs taken with a glassful of water at night before retiring, and again half an hour before breakfast, will sometimes cure mild constipation. The dried figs, like prunes, may be stewed if preferred. They contain a large percentage of glucose. The best figs, called Turkey figs, are raised in Smyrna, and when dried will keep for a long time.