When trying to improve the quality of your diet, you can't go wrong eating fruits. They are rich in essential nutrients, and making them a regular part of your diet may help lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Figs and dates are no exception. While both are a good source of a number of nutrients you need for health and wellness, dried figs may be a slightly better choice if you're looking to maximize the nutrition of every bite.
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Gram Per Gram, Figs Are Lower in Calories
Figs are lower in calories than dates. A 100-gram serving of figs contains 249 calories, while the same serving of dates contains 277 calories. Most Americans eat more calories than they need, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While an extra 30 calories may not seem like much, an extra 30 calories every day for a year can lead to a 3-pound weight gain.
Which Has More Fiber
In addition to being lower in calories, figs are also a better source of fiber. A 100-gram serving of figs contains almost 10 grams of fiber, while the same serving of dates contains almost 7 grams. Americans average about 15 grams of fiber a day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, but they need 25 to 38 grams per day. Foods high in fiber help with appetite control, which allows you to better manage weight. Eating higher-fiber foods might also lower your risk of chronic illness.
Minerally Speaking, Figs Win Again
Figs are also a better source of minerals, including calcium, iron and zinc. Figs have more than twice the amount of calcium and iron as dates. Calcium is important for bone health, and iron carries oxygen throughout your body. While figs are a better source of zinc than dates, the difference is not as remarkable as calcium and iron. You need zinc to help fight colds and heal wounds. Dates are a slightly better source of potassium than figs. Potassium is a mineral that helps your body maintain fluid balance.
The Exception: Dates Better Source of Some Vitamins
When it comes to vitamins, dates are a better source of folate and vitamin A. Folate is a B vitamin that is necessary for proper cell division and is important to women of childbearing age because it prevents birth defects. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that supports normal growth and development, as well as immune health. Figs, however, are a better source of the blood-clotting vitamin K than dates.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate.gov: Fruits: Why Is It Important to Eat Fruit?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Dates, Medjool
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Figs, Dried, Uncooked
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 2 -- Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber
- Kids Health: Minerals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin K