Figs have long been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine — archaeological evidence for the cultivation of figs goes back as far as 5,000 B.C., according to Julia Morton's "Fruits of Warm Climates" — and they make up a part of the average American diet today.
You can find dried figs in most grocery and convenience stores, and you might occasionally stumble upon fresh figs in the produce section. They have a wealth of nutritional benefits and serve as key sources of essential nutrients and there are multiple types of figs to choose from!
For example, Calimyrna figs originated in California and are a special breed of fig derived from the Smyrna fig of Turkey. Known for its golden skin and nut-like flavor, the Calimyrna fig is most commonly found dried but is also eaten fresh. Another type of figs, Mission figs, are eggplant-colored on the outside and equally delicious and nutritious.
Fig Calories and Macronutrients
A half-cup of dried figs contains 186 calories, per the USDA.
They're rich in carbohydrates — dried and fresh figs contain 47.5 and 46 grams of total carbohydrates per serving, respectively — and about 2 grams of protein per serving. Fresh and dried figs are excellent sources of dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate that's linked to reduced cardiovascular disease risk and preventing constipation.
A serving of fresh figs contains 7 grams of fiber, while a serving of dried figs provides 7.3 grams. This contributes a significant amount toward your daily fiber intake goal — 14 grams per every 1,000 calories you eat.
The same size serving of dried Calimyrna figs contains 206 calories, 52.2 grams of carbs and 7.5 grams of fiber.
As a dried fruit, Calimyrna and Mission figs are calorie-dense because of their low moisture content. As a calorie-dense food, it has a high calorie content relative to its serving size. However, as a fruit, figs make a healthy calorie choice compared to other calorie-dense foods such as cookies or candy bars.
Potassium in Figs
A half-cup of dried figs, including Calimyrna figs, contains 11 percent of your daily value of potassium.
Including more potassium-rich foods in your diet helps lower blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. However, if you have kidney disease or a history of high blood potassium levels, you may need to limit the amount of potassium in your diet. Talk to your doctor about your daily potassium needs before increasing your intake.
Copper in Figs
Figs provide beneficial copper, which activates enzymes that keep your connective tissues strong, support healthy brain cell communication and aid in energy production. It also helps your body absorb iron, which makes it beneficial for preventing and treating iron deficiency.
A serving of fresh figs contains 168 micrograms of copper (19 percent of the recommended daily intake) while a serving of dried figs has 214 micrograms (24 percent of your daily copper intake).
Vitamin K in Figs
Figs are good sources of vitamin K, and fresh figs also provide you with beneficial vitamin A. Vitamin K's primary role in your body involves activating clotting factors, or proteins needed for the formation of blood clots. As a result, the vitamin K from your diet allows your body to control bleeding, especially after an injury.
Both fresh and dried figs provide significant amounts of vitamin K: Fresh figs contain 6 percent of your daily value while dried contain 10 percent.
How to Eat More Figs
Dried figs — whether Calimyrna or Mission or another type —travel well, which makes them excellent served on their own as a snack you can eat on-the-go.
They also work well in sandwiches: Experiment with adding chopped figs and dried cranberries to chicken salad sandwiches or in leafy green salads. Fresh figs are much more delicate with a short shelf life, so you'll want to eat them at home, shortly after purchase.
Enjoy sliced fresh figs on their own as a treat, or pair them with an ounce of cheese for a more decadent snack. Puree figs and combine them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a healthful and flavorful homemade salad dressing.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Figs, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Figs, Dried, Uncooked
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Copper
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin K
- American Heart Association: "How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure"