Figs Nutrition Facts

Calories in Figs and Their Health Benefits

Bunch of fresh figs
Michel Gunther/Biosphoto/Getty Images.

Figs are a type of fruit that is naturally sweet. In historical times, cooked figs were used as sweetener in lieu of sugar and some countries still keep to this practice today. Because of its natural sweetness, figs probably fall into the category of types of fruits people with diabetes would benefit from avoiding.

Dried Fig Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 fig (8.4 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 21 
Calories from Fat 2 
Total Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 57mg4%
Carbohydrates 5.4g2%
Dietary Fiber .8g3%
Sugars 4.03g 
Protein 0.3g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% · Iron 1%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Depending on the size and type (dry vs. raw), one fig can contain anywhere from 5-12 grams of carbohydrate and 3-9 grams of sugar. Figs also have a high glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index chart are thought to raise blood sugars more quickly than those with lower numbers. If you are consuming figs, read labels and be knowledgeable of portions, especially when it comes to dried figs.

Fruits that are dried go through a dehydration process and lose their water content, shrinking them, ultimately yielding a smaller volume than fresh fruit. Usually this means that you can eat less dried fruit for the same amount of calories and sugar in a larger portion of fresh fruit. For example, one large dried fig (much smaller in weight than the fresh version) has the same amount of calories, carbohydrate and sugar as one serving of a large, fresh fig. Therefore, you'll likely feel more full after eating a fresh piece of fruit, as opposed to dried fruit.

Plus, be mindful of calories. A single dry fig has about 21 calories.

Health Benefits of Figs 

Figs contain polyphenols which have antioxidant power and help to combat oxidative stress. Figs are also rich in fiber, which can help to regulate bowels, contribute to satiety, reduce cholesterol and regulate hunger.

Fig fruit has often be used in the treatment of constipation, as the fiber in the fruit can have laxative affects.

In addition, figs are a good source of Vitamin K, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Studies have shown that potassium rich diets can help to regulate blood pressure. Figs are naturally low in sodium and saturated fat. It has been suggested that the leaves of figs, which can be made into tea, has been helpful in the treatment of diabetes, however, more research is needed here.

Common Questions About Figs 

Why do figs cause sore tongues?

Oftentimes people complain of a burning sensation or sore tongue after eating too many figs, particularly fresh ones. This is due to the latex of the fig called phison. The less ripe a fig is, the more phison is present.

The phison is a proteolic enzyme that breaks down proteins, thus your skin and tongue may itch or burn from exposure. To avoid fig burn, or the soreness that some people experience from eating figs, spoon the inside of the fig out and eat it separately from the skin where most of the phison is contained.

Picking and Storing Figs 

Figs have an Asian origin. There are hundreds of fig varieties, but below you'll find the most popular in the United States.

  • Mission Figs(generally found dried)
  • Kadota Figs
  • Calimyrna Figs
  • Conadria Figs
  • Brown Turkey Figs
  • Sierra Figs
  • Sequoia Figs

Select figs that are soft to touch, clean and dry, with smooth, unbroken skin. They should not be mushy.

For optimal selection, smell the fruit. Figs that smell sour have gone beyond their prime and begin to ferment. If this is the case they will appear to lose their round shape and collapse inward.

Fig Storage

Fresh figs can spoil quickly, therefore it's important to keep them cold. Once purchased, use them immediately or store in a plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Discard unused figs after about two days.

Figs that are frozen, can be stored in a sealed container for ten to twelve months. You can opt to store these figs whole, sliced or simply peeled.

Canned figs are usually good for one year in the pantry, however, once they are opened they can be used for up to one week if stored in the refrigerator.

Dried figs can be stored for one month at room temperature if they are unopened. For longer storage, place them in the refrigerator for six months to a year. Once opened, transfer them to a sealable, plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Figs

Figs can be used to dress up a meal, adding texture, color and sweetness. They are also a natural, healthy ingredient to use when making desserts, smoothies or sweetening up yogurt and cottage cheese. Most people cook with and consume dried figs, but you can also eat them fresh, freeze them yourself or purchase them frozen. When using fresh figs, make sure to remove the stem. Split the stem in half and peel it off the fruit.

Fig Recipes 

Replacing figs for sugar, jelly or other processed carbohydrates is a great way to add fiber and nutrients to your meal. Below you will find some recipes that can be used as a snack, dessert and main meal option.

Sources: 

Leroux, MarcusFoster-Powell, Kaye, Holt, Susanna and Brand-Miller, Janette. "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 76, No. 1, 5-56, (2002).

Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrients for Health. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/sites/lpi.oregonstate.edu/files/pdf/mic/micronutrients_for_health.pdf

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