Nutritional Information for Figs
Figs make for a delicious sweet treat. They can be eaten fresh or dried and provide an abundance of nutrition. The natural sugars and carbohydrates in figs are health-promoting. In fact, the body uses carbohydrates as a first energy source and is the preferred fuel source for muscles and brain tissue. Eating more fruit, especially fruit packed with fiber, helps prevent colorectal cancer and other cancers of the digestive tract (stomach, throat and mouth cancers).
Benefits of Figs
Cancer Prevention Benefits
The only human trials that seem to exist are population studies looking at those who eat figs and their risk of colorectal cancer. The study showed that eating more figs and dates reduced colorectal cancer risk. Other in vitro trials have been conducted by isolating phytonutrient compounds in figs and observing how they respond to different cancer cells. One phytonutrient compound called a terpenoid seems to be protective, but not enough research has been done in this field to promote taking terpenoids alone. It is much more critical and nutritionally beneficial to eat the whole fruit.
Men's Health Benefits
Figs appear have biological (pharmacological) effects. It’s been used as a traditional medicine for centuries, especially in Asia. In a review study researchers believe figs may be helpful for the treatment of many diseases such as cancer, anemia, diabetes, leprosy, liver diseases, paralysis, skin diseases, and ulcers.
Despite being calorically dense, unsweetened dried figs have not been found to increase weight gain. And that’s even when folks were eating up to 14 dried figs per day! Figs unfortunately did not seem to reduce cholesterol or triglycerides. The good news is that even though dried fruits like figs have more carbohydrates and natural sugars they do not promote disease, as seen with all other added sugars. Swapping out afternoon sugary treats with dried figs may help with better body weight control.
Ways to Use Figs
- Chop and add to salads.
- Enjoy on their own.
- Use dried figs for an easy travel snack. Pair with a 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds.
- Cook flat bread with cashew cream, thinly sliced figs, caramelized onions, and balsamic vinegar.
- Add to a smoothies or oatmeal to sweeten naturally.
- Add to oatmeal or enjoy them on their own for an afternoon snack.
Resources for Figs
American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org
Nutrition Facts: www.NutritionFacts.org
Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org
USDA Nutrient Database: Figs
- Jing L, Zhang YM, Luo JG, Kong L. Tirucallane-type triterpenoids from the fruit of Ficus carica and their cytotoxic activity. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2015;63(3):237-43.
- Peterson J, Montgomery S, Haddad E, Kearney L, Tonstad S. Effect of consumption of dried California mission figs on lipid concentrations. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;58(3):232-8.
- Badgujar S, Patel V, Bandivdekar A, Mahajan R. Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Ficus carica: a review. Pharm Biol. 2014;52(11):1487-503.
- Tayyem R, Shehadah I, Abu-Mweis S. Fruit and vegetable intake among Jordanians: results from a case-control study of colorectal cancer. Cancer Control. 2014;21(4):350-60.