Add Figs to Your Healthy Diet

9 Nov

figs[1]When I think of summer fruit, I rarely think of figs, even though I grew up with them.  My grandfather, who came here from Italy, had fig trees in his garden.  I remember burying them every fall and digging them up again the following summer, to protect them from the northeast Ohio winters.  Fresh figs were a unique summer treat for my family and me.

Figs – fresh or dried – are a great addition to any healthy diet.  Fresh figs are widely available during the late summer months (dried figs, of course, are available year-round), have more fiber per serving than most other fruit, and more anti-oxidants than red wine or tea.  There are hundreds of varieties of figs, all with a common soft flesh with plenty of tiny edible seeds.  They range in color from purple-black to almost white and from round to oval.  Figs are the sweetest of all fruits, with a 55% sugar content.

Figs are versatile, and can be eaten fresh or added to salads and other dishes.  They combine well with nuts, meats, cheeses, and other fruits.

For additional information comparing the health and nutrition benefits of fresh vs. dried figs, please refer to Are Dried Figs As Healthy As Fresh?


Your thoughts?

4 Responses to “Add Figs to Your Healthy Diet”

  1. Heri November 9, 2016 at 9:07 AM #

    What do you think of dried figs vs fresh figs? Where I live, it seems packs of dried figs are in most grocery stores while you can’t really find fresh ones

    • Brian Lebo November 9, 2016 at 9:45 AM #

      Hi Heri. I expected that dried figs would be comparable – nutritionally – to fresh figs, but had to do some research. With apologies for the lengthy response, this is what I found: Fresh Figs
      Fresh figs contain trace amounts of several important nutrients, but their primary nutritional value comes from the amount of fiber, potassium and readily available energy they provide. For close to 90 calories, two large-sized fresh figs deliver nearly 4 grams of fiber, or 15 percent of the recommended daily value. They also supply 8 percent of the daily value for potassium as well as 7 percent each of the daily values for vitamins K and B-6. Since figs aren’t a significant source of protein or fat, nearly all of their calories come from carbohydrates. Two large figs have almost 25 grams of carbohydrates, most of which is in the form of the simple sugars glucose and fructose.
      Dried Figs
      More than 60 percent of a fig’s water content is removed by the drying process. As a result, dried figs are a more concentrated source of calories, nutrients and fiber than the fresh variety. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 1/2-cup serving of dried figs — or about nine fruits — supplies just under 190 calories, about 2.5 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 48 grams of carbohydrates. A 1/2 cup of dried figs also delivers 29 percent of the daily value for dietary fiber, 14 percent each of the daily values for vitamin K and potassium, 12 percent each of the daily values for calcium and magnesium and 8 percent of the daily value for iron.
      Health Benefits
      Fresh or dried, figs are a significant source of both types of dietary fiber. Their soluble fiber contributes to satiety and promotes healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, while their insoluble fiber supports efficient digestion and bowel regularity. The potassium in figs helps keep fluids and minerals balanced in and around cells and throughout your body, which is essential to normal nerve, muscle and heart function. Figs are an excellent source of readily available energy, since most of their calories come from simple sugars. These sugars are naturally occurring, however, and the soluble fiber they come packaged with helps slow the rate at which they’re released into your bloodstream.
      Ounce for ounce, dried figs are higher in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber than the fresh variety. Since they’re also substantially higher in calories and sugar, however, individual portions should be kept relatively small. A 1/4-cup serving of dried figs is nutritionally comparable to a serving of two large fresh figs, providing about the same amount of calories, fiber and potassium. Avoid figs canned in syrup, as they’re a source of added sugar, the kind the American Heart Association recommends strictly limiting to protect your overall health. For a naturally sweet dessert, cut a large fresh fig into quarters and serve it with a dollop of lightly sweetened ricotta cheese. Use chopped dried figs to bring flavor and texture to a warm whole-grain salad of quinoa, sauteed spinach and crumbled feta.

      • Heri November 9, 2016 at 9:54 AM #

        Thanks Brian, makes sense. Fresh figs served naturally, and dried figs in a salad or dishes. I’ll also keep in mind the reduced portions !

      • Brian Lebo November 9, 2016 at 9:56 AM #

        Actually, thank you! Your question prompted me to update my “figs” blog post with the information I found. Have a great day, and thanks again for the question!

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