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Dates vs Figs - Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on November 29, 2020
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Common fig
vs
Dates

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.

Introduction

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 subtropical regions. The cultivation and consumption 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 because consuming dates reduces the feeling of thirst and gives an energy boost. 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-shaped form. It has a soft inside filled with tiny 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 they consumed in ancient Greece and Rome.

The fig tree is a dioecious tree, meaning that a pollen-carrying tree and a seed are carrying a tree. A specific 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 tree's life cycle. The agricultural advancement made the fig tree dispersed all around the world.

This article will discuss the nutritional content, vitamin, and mineral contents, their health impact, and usages.

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, equivalent to 1 medium fig.

Glycemic index

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.

Calories

Dates have 282 calories per 100g. Comparatively, figs have 74 calories.

Figs are lower in calories.

Fats

The fat content of both dates and figs is negligible.

Carbohydrates

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.

Dietary fibers

Dates contain 8g of dietary fibers compared to figs which contain 2.9g—making dates richer in dietary fibers.

Sugars

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.

Protein

The protein content of both dates and figs is negligible.

Vitamin content comparison

The main vitamin composition of dates per 100g is as follows:

  • 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 follows:

  • 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.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin A +1320%
Contains more Vitamin E +120%
Contains more Vitamin C +400%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +15.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +74.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +32%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +218.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +96.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +46%
Contains more Folate +216.7%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 9% 3% 0% 7% 15% 12% 8% 18% 27% 5% 0% 12%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 1% 1% 0% 2% 14% 16% 24% 36% 39% 15% 0% 7%
Contains more Vitamin A +1320%
Contains more Vitamin E +120%
Contains more Vitamin C +400%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +15.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +74.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +32%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +218.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +96.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +46%
Contains more Folate +216.7%

Mineral content comparison

Dates and figs have different distributions of minerals.

Dates are rich in potassium, 656mg per 100g, where the daily requirement is 4000mg. This makes dates highly rich in potassium. On the other hand, figs contain 232mg of potassium, nearly ⅓ of 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. However, it is somehow higher in dates, compared to the daily recommended value, which is around 1000mg. They are both considered similar.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains less Sodium -50%
Contains more Calcium +11.4%
Contains more Iron +175.7%
Contains more Magnesium +152.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +342.9%
Contains more Potassium +182.8%
Contains more Zinc +93.3%
Contains more Copper +194.3%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 11% 14% 13% 6% 21% 1% 5% 24%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 12% 39% 31% 27% 58% 1% 8% 69%
Contains less Sodium -50%
Contains more Calcium +11.4%
Contains more Iron +175.7%
Contains more Magnesium +152.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +342.9%
Contains more Potassium +182.8%
Contains more Zinc +93.3%
Contains more Copper +194.3%

Health impact

Diabetes

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. They observed that abscisic acid regulated glucose balance in the blood better in individuals who had consumed abscisic acid than 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)

Cancer

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)

Inflammation

Dates have anti-inflammatory properties that are observed in patients who have 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. After having kidney impairment, they observed that the antioxidant present in dates had reduced the creatinine and urea levels in the blood and improved filtration. (7)

No similar properties were observed in figs.

Usages

Dates are considered one of the essential foods consumed in middle eastern and north African cuisines, as they are high in carbohydrates, mainly sugar and potassium. The potassium acts as a water retainer in the body. It 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. We can make it into shakes mixed with milk, bananas, cocoa powder, making it highly nutritious. However, suppose a workout is not going to be followed after consuming this shake. In that case, one must be careful of the high caloric intake.

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. We can eat them, and they are used as a garnish or topping over European fusion salads.

When consuming fig jam, We must consider the sugar and caloric content.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22761049/
  2. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/67/Supplement_1/791-P
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15298775/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11473446/
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Doha_Mohamed/publication/265988289
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26361743/
  7. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13880200701739322
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Common fig vs Dates  infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Common fig Dates
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Common fig Dates Opinion
Net carbs 16.28g 67.03g Dates
Protein 0.75g 2.45g Dates
Fats 0.3g 0.39g Dates
Carbs 19.18g 75.03g Dates
Calories 74kcal 282kcal Dates
Starch g g
Fructose g 19.56g Dates
Sugar 16.26g 63.35g Common fig
Fiber 2.9g 8g Dates
Calcium 35mg 39mg Dates
Iron 0.37mg 1.02mg Dates
Magnesium 17mg 43mg Dates
Phosphorus 14mg 62mg Dates
Potassium 232mg 656mg Dates
Sodium 1mg 2mg Common fig
Zinc 0.15mg 0.29mg Dates
Copper 0.07mg 0.206mg Dates
Vitamin A 142IU 10IU Common fig
Vitamin E 0.11mg 0.05mg Common fig
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 2mg 0.4mg Common fig
Vitamin B1 0.06mg 0.052mg Common fig
Vitamin B2 0.05mg 0.066mg Dates
Vitamin B3 0.4mg 1.274mg Dates
Vitamin B5 0.3mg 0.589mg Dates
Vitamin B6 0.113mg 0.165mg Dates
Folate 6µg 19µg Dates
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 4.7µg 2.7µg Common fig
Tryptophan 0.006mg 0.012mg Dates
Threonine 0.024mg 0.043mg Dates
Isoleucine 0.023mg 0.049mg Dates
Leucine 0.033mg 0.084mg Dates
Lysine 0.03mg 0.066mg Dates
Methionine 0.006mg 0.022mg Dates
Phenylalanine 0.018mg 0.05mg Dates
Valine 0.028mg 0.071mg Dates
Histidine 0.011mg 0.032mg Dates
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Saturated Fat 0.06g 0.032g Dates
Monounsaturated Fat 0.066g 0.036g Common fig
Polyunsaturated fat 0.144g 0.019g Common fig

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Common fig Dates
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
9
Common fig
12
Dates
Mineral Summary Score
11
Common fig
30
Dates

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
5%
Common fig
15%
Dates
Carbohydrates
19%
Common fig
75%
Dates
Fats
1%
Common fig
2%
Dates

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Dates
Dates is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.028g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Dates
Dates is lower in glycemic index (difference - 19)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Dates
Dates is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Common fig
Common fig is lower in Sugar (difference - 47.09g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Common fig
Common fig contains less Sodium (difference - 1mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Common fig
Common fig is cheaper (difference - $1.4)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Common fig - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173021/nutrients
  2. Dates - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171726/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.