The Glycemic Index of Figs

Basket of figs
Figs add iron, potassium and B vitamins to your diet. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Dried figs have a moderate ranking on the glycemic index, or GI. If you’re planning meals and snacks based on the GI value of the foods you eat, you can eat dried figs without experiencing a rapid, marked increase in your blood sugar. However, dried figs have a higher concentration of carbohydrates relative to their volume than fresh figs, which means that a serving of fresh figs may satisfy your appetite more effectively while adding fewer carbs to your diet. The University of Sydney’s Glycemic Index Group, which developed the method for measuring the ability of a food to raise blood glucose levels, has not tested the effects of fresh figs.

Glycemic Index Value

The glycemic index rates the effects of a food on the blood sugar levels of human test subjects. The more significantly and more rapidly a food elevates blood glucose levels, the higher that food ranks on a scale of zero to 100. A serving of dried figs weighing 60 g, or 2 oz., has a GI value of 61. Your body digests and absorbs the carbohydrates in foods that have a moderate to high GI value more rapidly than the carbs in low-GI foods, resulting in more significant increase in your blood sugar after you eat them.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic load, or GL, includes the amount of carbohydrates in a food and the GI value of those carbohydrates in a single calculation. Dried figs have a GI of 61 and a GL of 16, compared to a fresh apple, which has a GI of 40 and a GL of 6. This difference indicates that a serving of dried figs will have almost three times the metabolic effect of a fresh apple. If you’re planning your diet on the basis of how foods affect your blood sugar, the apple may help you control your blood glucose levels more effectively than dried figs.

Carbohydrate Content

Because the dehydration process results in a higher concentration of sugar relative to weight, dried figs have a higher concentration of carbohydrates -- mostly in the form of sugar -- than fresh figs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 60 g serving of dried, uncooked figs has 6 g of fiber and 29 g of sugar. A 60 g serving of fresh figs has 2 g of fiber and 10 g of sugar. However, this serving of fresh figs also has 48 g of water, compared to 18 g of water in dried figs. The water content of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to create a sense of fullness after you eat these foods. Equivalent servings of dried fruits and vegetables may not satisfy your appetite as effectively.

Balancing Foods

When you eat dried figs in combination with foods that are high in protein, which has no marked effect on blood sugar, or low-GI foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, you reduce the overall effects of dried figs on your blood glucose levels. Eating a fresh orange or a serving of cheese in combination with dried figs would result in a lower effect on your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you emphasize fresh fruit in your diet and limit your servings of dried fruit because of the higher amounts of sugar that dried fruit contains.

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