Many of us enjoy the cake-like cookies filled with fig purée, but have you had the pleasure of popping a freshly picked fig into your mouth? Along with a fresh fig’s sweet flavor, the combined texture of its tasty rind and seeds provides a truly unique experience.

According to an Iowa State University study, the U.S. ranks sixth globally in fig production, and 98 percent of the U.S. figs are grown in California. Their short shelf life and fragile nature make figs difficult to ship, so fig season is something special for fans of this flavorful fruit.

Figs have a high fiber content as well as many vital vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, chlorine, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

Here are just a few health benefits you may reap by adding figs to your diet:

Can regulate digestion
Considering their fiber content — about 5 grams per three-fig serving — you can count on figs for prevention of constipation or help with diarrhea. Fiber-rich foods like figs can even help to prevent abdominal and colon cancer by stimulating healthy movement of your bowels.

Can prevent heart disease
Figs contain fatty acids like phenol, Omega-3 and Omega-6 that can help reduce heart disease risk factors. The magnesium and potassium found in figs can also support a healthy heart and work to keep blood pressure in line.

Can lower cholesterol
Pectin, which is found in figs, is a soluble fiber that soaks up cholesterol as it moves through the digestive system and eliminates it from the body.

Can strengthen bones
Figs are also known for their high amounts of the essential bone-building trio of magnesium, calcium and vitamin K2. Consuming just five fresh figs provides about 90 milligrams of calcium and other nutrients like potassium and magnesium.

Can lead to weight loss
The high fiber content also helps provide a feeling of fullness that can aid in weight-loss efforts. However, figs are high in calories, so be sure to consume only a few at a time if you are trying to lose weight.

Since figs are a less common fruit, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your diet. Here are a few of my favorite ways:

Blend chopped figs into your breakfast oatmeal, yogurt or smoothie for additional fiber.

Slice fresh figs over whole-wheat toast smeared with peanut butter.

Mix fresh figs into your favorite salad for added sweetness and texture.

Add halved figs to focaccia bread pizza with goat cheese, arugula and balsamic vinegar.

Stuff fresh figs with cheese, then wrap with prosciutto and roast in the oven.

Poach whole figs in red wine or honey-sweetened water and serve over ice cream.

Try one for yourself to experience the taste and health benefits that have made figs a popular treat all over the world.