Figs: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Last updated on November 22, 2021.

What’s a Fig? | Nutrition facts | Health benefits | Special precautions | Side effects | Allergies | How to eat it? | Nutritionist’s tips

What’s a Fig?

Figs originate from Mediterranean countries, and they belong to the genus Ficus of the Moraceae family. There are two main types of figs commonly found in the market, purple-skinned and green-skinned. They usually have a soft, light red flesh and a sweet taste. Fig is a tropical fruit of low calorie and high fiber, which is beneficial to the digestive system and cardiovascular health.

Varieties
Black Mission figs: sweet, dark purple
Brown Turkey figs: less sweet, have a mild taste
Calimyrna, Kadota and Adriatic figs: bright green
Other varieties: Sierra figs and King figs

Origin
Turkey, Mediterranean countries, in the subtropical or temperate region.

Season
Late June or from August to October.

Nutrition facts

According to Centre for Food Safety, the nutrition facts per 100 g of edible portion of figs, which is equivalent to two small figs are:

Calories
65 kcal

Macronutrients

Carbohydrates

Proteins

Lipids

Dietary Fibre

Carbohydrates: 16.0 g

Sugars: NA

1.5 g

Total fat: 0.1 g
Saturated fat: NA
Trans fat: NA
Cholesterol: NA

3.0 g (12% of DV)

Micronutrients

Vitamins

Minerals

Vitamin C: 2 mg (4.4% of DV)

Calcium: 67 mg (6.7% of DV)

Copper: 0.01 mg (ess than 1% of DV)

Iron: 0.1 mg (0.5% of DV)

Magnesium: 17 mg (7% of DV)

Manganese: 0.17 mg

Phosphorus: 18 mg

Potassium: 212 mg (7.3% of DV)

Sodium: 5.5 mg (0.3 of DV)

Zinc: 1.42 mg (24% of DV)

Recommended daily intake
No more than 4 pieces per day. 

Health benefits of figs

Promote gastrointestinal digestion
Figs contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which promote gastrointestinal digestion by peristalsis and prevent constipation. In a study of 150 patients with constipation irritable bowel syndrome, those who consume dried figs every day have a significant improvement in constipation.

Improve cardiovascular health
Fiber in figs also helps remove excess cholesterol in the blood vessel. The accumulation of cholesterol in the inner wall of blood vessels causes the development of plague, which narrows blood vessels and restricts blood flow, causing an increase in blood pressure. Figs can reduce the deposition of cholesterol in blood vessels, which lowers the risk of heart disease.

Rich in micronutrients
Figs are also rich in different micronutrients (such as calcium, potassium, vitamin c, etc.), which helps strengthen body defence and maintain bone health. The high potassium level in figs also effectively removes excessive sodium in the body, which prevents water retention and lowers blood pressure.

Anti-inflammatory
A 2005 research on dried fruit shows that figs contain a variety of antioxidants, including anthocyanin, lupeol, quercetin, etc., which protects the body from cellular damage by free radicals and reduces inflammation.

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Special precautions

People with weakened spleen and stomach
Figs exhibit a laxative effect because of its high fiber content, which increases the ease of excretion. However, excessive intake of figs may increase the burden on the digestive system. People with weakened spleen and stomach have a higher tendency to experience diarrhea after consuming excessive amounts of fiber from figs.

Pre-diabetic or diabetic patients
Figs, especially dried figs, have high sugar content, so people with high blood sugar levels or diabetes should avoid excessive consumption of figs.

People with renal dysfunction
Figs is a high-potassium food. People with weakened kidney function cannot decompose potassium ions in blood effectively. Excessive consumption of figs will lead to the accumulation of potassium ions in the body, resulting in hyperkalemia, muscle weakness and arrhythmia.

People who are taking anticoagulants
Figs are rich in vitamin K, which exhibit blood thinning properties. Vitamin K in figs can interfere with the effect of blood thinning medications, such as Warfarin. People on blood thinner have to maintain a consistent amount of vitamin K consumption and therefore should not consume figs casually.

Side effects

There are no known side effects of the consumption of figs.

Allergies

People who are sensitive to mulberry and natural rubber (also known as latex) may experience an allergic reaction to figs.

How to eat it?

Eat the whole fruit directly
Pinch on a fig slightly to test if it is ripe or not. If it is soft enough, wash it and remove the pedicle because it is hard and bitter. Apart from the pedicle, the whole fig is safe for consumption. Because figs are usually grown in non-toxic certified farms, it is not necessary to be peeled because most of the fiber comes from the skin of the figs.

As a cooking ingredient
Figs can be used to make soup or Chinese sweet soup, or served as toppings on oatmeal, cheese, salad, etc. Alternatively, figs can be used as a sugar substitute to make jams with its natural sweetening property.

Eat it dried
Dried figs can be found in local dried seafood shops or organic food stores. If you have a food dehydrator, you may prepare your own dried figs at home to be eaten as snacks or cooked in soup.

Nutritionist’s tips

Dried Fig vs Fresh Fig – Which one is healthier?

In fact, dried figs have more or less the same nutritional benefits as fresh figs! Nevertheless, since dried figs are dehydrated and more concentrated, the sugar content is higher than that of fresh figs. Eating too much dried figs can lead to a rise in blood sugar level. Therefore, diabetic patients should pay special attention to their intake of figs.

This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.