Dates vs Figs - Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Dates come from date palm trees that are long trees that can grow up to 23m high. They are native to North Africa, the middle east, and southern Asia. Currently they are also planted in the subtropical regions. The cultivation and consumption of dates date back to 6000BC in the Arabian regions.
Dates are part of nearly all middle eastern and north African diets and cuisines. Arab communities depend on dates in their diet due to the fact that consuming dates reduces the feeling of thirst and gives an energy boost as it is high in calories and sugar, and is abundant given that it is grown in the Arabian dry regions.
Figs have a variety of colors and sizes and they come in a sack-shape form. It has a soft inside filled with small seeds and has a sweet taste. Their size can range from small to large sacks and the usual colors are green and dark purple. They are native to the middle east and western Asia.
Fig consumption dates back to around 9000 BC as fossils were found that contained remnants of figs.
They were famous fruits that were consumed in ancient Greece and Rome.
The fig tree is a dioecious tree, meaning that there is a pollen carrying tree and a seed carrying a tree. A certain wasp is necessary to carry the pollen from one tree to another. However, with agricultural advancement, the wasp is not necessary to pollinate the seed-bearing trees, thus removing the wasp from the life cycle of the tree. This made the fig tree dispersed all around the world.
In this article, the nutritional content, vitamin, and mineral contents, their health impact, and usages will be discussed.
Nutritional content comparison
The nutritional content is compared on the basis of 100g of both dates and figs. However, they have different serving sizes. The serving size of dates is 7.1g which is equivalent to 1 date, and that of figs is 50g which is equivalent to 1 medium fig.
Figs are classified as medium glycemic foods with a glycemic index of 61. On the other hand, Dates have a lower glycemic index and are classified as low glycemic foods with a glycemic index of 36.
Dates have 282 calories per 100g. Comparatively, figs have 74 calories.
Figs are lower in calories.
The fat content of both dates and figs is negligible.
Figs contain lower amounts of carbohydrates relative to dates. The carbohydrate content of figs is 19.18g and the carbohydrate content of dates is 75g.
Dates contain 8g of dietary fibers compared to figs which contain 2.9g. Making dates richer in dietary fibers.
The sugar content of dates is relatively higher compared to the sugar content of figs. Dates have 63.35g of sugars whereas figs 16.26g.
The protein content of both dates and figs is negligible.
Vitamin content comparison
The main vitamin composition of dates per 100g is as following:
- Vitamin C: 0.4mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.165mg
- Vitamin B5: 0.59mg
- Folate: 19mcg
- Vitamin K: 2.7mcg
The main vitamin composition of figs per 100g is as following:
- Vitamin C: 2mg
- Vitamin K: 4.7mcg
- Vitamin A: 142IU
- Folate: 6mcg
Relatively, Figs are richer in vitamin C, K, and A. On the other hand, dates are richer in folate, vitamin B5, and B6.
Mineral content comparison
Dates and figs have different distributions of minerals.
Dates are rich in potassium, 656mg per 100g, where the daily requirement is by average 4000mg. This makes dates highly rich in potassium. On the other hand, figs contain 232mg of potassium nearly ⅓ the content compared to dates.
Dates are also richer by approximately two and a half folds in magnesium compared to figs. The magnesium content is 43mg for dates and 17mg for figs, where the daily recommendation is 400mg for men and 310mg for women.
Dates contain 0.206mg of copper, compared to figs that have negligible amounts of copper. The daily recommendation for copper is 1.4mg for men and 1.1mg for women.
Dates and figs have approximately similar amounts of calcium, 39mg for dates and 35mg for figs, although it is somehow higher in dates but compared to the daily recommended value which is around 1000mg they are both considered similar.
Dates have anti-diabetic properties due to the flavonoids present in them. These flavonoids decrease the uptake of glucose from the intestinal tract. (1)
Figs also have anti-diabetic properties, due to Abscisic acid which is a phytohormone present in figs, it was observed after the consumption of food, glucose balance in the blood was regulated better in individuals who had consumed abscisic acid compared to individuals who didn’t. In addition, it has effects on lowering the insulin index, decreasing the risks of developing insulin-resistant diabetes, diabetes type 2. (2)
Dates have anti-tumor activities due to beta D-glucan that are present in them. (3)
Although the fig itself doesn’t have anti-tumor properties, until now based on evidence, fig latex components and fig leaf components have proven to have anti-tumor properties. These components are sitosterols, palmitoyl, and linoleyl. They have activity in inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. (4)
Dates have anti-inflammatory properties that are observed in patients suffering from arthritis. (5)
Figs contain Luteolin which has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a neuroprotective agent. (6)
Nephroprotection - Kidney Protection
Dates have nephroprotective characteristics, also known as kidney protection, which are due to their antioxidant components. It was observed that after having kidney impairment the antioxidant present in dates has reduced the creatinine and urea levels in the blood and improved filtration. (7)
No similar properties were observed in figs.
Dates are considered as one of the most important foods consumed in middle eastern and north African cuisines, as it is high in carbohydrates, mostly sugar and potassium. The potassium acts as a water retainer in the body and prevents people from living in arid environments to withstand thirst for longer durations.
Dates are also considered in the sports industry as a very efficient pre-workout sugar booster to give the body a boost of energy. It can be made into shakes that are mixed with milk, bananas, cocoa powder, making it highly nutritious, however, if a workout is not going to be followed after consuming this shake, one must be careful of the high caloric intake that it has.
Dates can also be consumed dried, however the nutritional content will vary.
Figs have a lower shelf life compared to dates, as it ripens relatively faster.
Figs can be eaten raw or dried, and are made into jams.
Dried figs have a variety of uses, they can be eaten as they are, and are used as a garnish or topping over European fusion salads.
When consuming fig jam, the sugar and caloric content must be taken into consideration.
In summary, dates have a lower glycemic index, richer in fibers, potassium, copper, magnesium, and vitamins B5, B6, and folate. On the other hand, figs are lower in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars, richer in vitamins C, K, and A. The amount of fat and protein in both is negligible.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Sugars|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable in case of diets?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Folic acid (B9)||0||0|