Figs originated in Arabia and grow best in areas with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually an inverted flower, and the seeds are the fruit, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. Flower or fruit, the nutrient-rich dried fig can help you meet some of your essential nutrient needs, making it a healthy addition to your diet.
High in Fiber
A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 7.3 g of fiber. Including more fiber in your diet can help lower your risk of chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes. Dried figs contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows digestion for appetite and blood sugar control and also helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, improving bowel function. According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy adult women need 25 grams of fiber a day, and adult men need 38 grams.
Good for Your Bones
Figs contain more calcium than most other fruits, according to the California Fig Advisory Board, with 121 mg in a 1/2-cup serving. Adequate calcium intake supports bone health and growth, and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis. Adults need 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium a day. One serving of dried figs meets 12 percent of your daily value for calcium, almost the same as 1 cup of unpacked cottage cheese. Including a variety of calcium-rich foods in your diet, like dried figs, can make help ensure that you meet your daily needs.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Consuming dried figs can help you meet your daily potassium needs and help lower your blood pressure. A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 507 mg of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain fluid balance. Increasing your daily intake of potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium, helping to lower your blood pressure. The American Heart Association says a healthy diet should contain 4,700 mg of potassium a day from natural foods. One serving of dried figs can help you meet 10 percent of your daily potassium needs.
Good Source of Iron
Dried figs can also help you meet your iron needs. A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 1.5 mg of iron. Iron is an essential mineral needed to help transport oxygen in your blood. Without enough iron in your diet, delivery of oxygen to your cells decreases, causing you to feel tired and weak and more susceptible to infection. Adult men and women over the age of 51 need 8 mg of iron a day, and women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 18 mg of iron a day.
- USDA: Nutrient Database: Figs, Dried, Uncooked
- California Fig Advisory Board: About Figs
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- American Heart Association: Potassium; January 2011