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Common fig nutrition: glycemic index, calories and diets

Figs, raw
*all the values are displayed for the amount of 100 grams
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on February 11, 2022
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Common fig

Introduction

The common fig (Ficus carica), or just fig, is the flowering plant of the eponymous tree. It is closely related to mulberries, being from the same Moraceae family. Fig trees have a rich history, accompanying humans with their travels for centuries, being one of the earliest cultivated fruit trees. Today they are also commonly used as ornaments.

Varieties

Figs come in a variety of colors and sizes; however, they are almost always in a sack shape, with a soft inside that consists of hundreds of tiny seeds, with a mellow sweet taste. The most common figs we see հave black and green peels and pink pulps. Namely, the four most well studied horticultural varieties are the Caprifig, the Smyrna, the San Pedro, and, of course, the Common or the Adriatic, each having their own sub-varieties (1). The edible fig is a multiple accessory fruit botanically referred to as syconium.

Cultivation

The Greek philosopher Theophrastus, the founder of modern botany, described how insects enter and leave the figs (2). That is because each fig species has its own wasp pollinator, so wild fig fruits often have dead wasps in them. However, if the wasp doesn’t manage to leave the fruit in time, the enzymes will break it down as the fig ripens (3). That being said, modern agriculture has found ways to grow figs without the help of wasps as pollinators.

Figs are a year-round fruit, which is part of the reason, as well as the high calcium concentration, that ecologists consider it to be a “keystone resource.” It is included in the diets of hundreds of species of insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, and even fish, dispersing the seeds wherever they go (4).

Nutrition

We will talk about the nutritional value contained in 100g of a fig, which is the equivalent of 2 serving sizes, with a serving size being one medium fig, weighing 50g.

Macronutrients and Calories

A 100g serving or two medium figs contain only 74 calories, making figs relatively low in calories.

A fig has only 1% protein and almost no fats, meaning it is very low in saturated fats and has no trans fats and no cholesterol.

Of the little protein that it has, among the essential amino acids, tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, valine, and histidine each make up 2% of the protein. The other essential amino acids, leucine, lysine, methionine, and phenylalanine, are equal in amounts, making up 1% each.

Macronutrients chart

20% 80%
Protein:
Daily Value: 2%
0.75 g of 50 g
2%
Fats:
Daily Value: 0%
0.3 g of 65 g
0%
Carbs:
Daily Value: 6%
19.18 g of 300 g
6%
Water:
Daily Value: 4%
79.11 g of 2,000 g
4%
Other:
0.66 g

Carbs in figs

Fig fruits mainly contain water and carbohydrates as major macro nutritional components. The total carbohydrate amount per 100g of figs equals 19.18g.

The chart below highlights the distribution among the macros.

Net carbs in figs

The net carbs per 100g of figs are equal to 16.28g.

Figs are not very high in carbohydrates however, the amount is remarkable and should be taken into consideration.

Fiber distribution in figs

The fiber content per 100g of figs equals 3g, which is equivalent to 12% of the DV, which means that 2-3 average-sized figs are a good source of fiber.

Carbs per serving size

The serving size of figs is 50g, nearly equivalent to 1 average-sized fig.

The total carbohydrate content of one serving size of fig (50g) equals 9.6g.

In addition to that, the net carb content per serving is equal to 8.14g.

The fiber content per serving size is equivalent to 1.5g, indicating 6% of the DV per 1 serving of figs.

Comparison to other foods

Figs are fruits that are often compared to other fruits in the same category. A good example could be this article which compares figs and dates to each other. In addition, the below table highlights some remarkable comparisons.

Food

Carbohydrates, (per serving)

Carbohydrates, per 100g

Figs

9.6g (50g)

19.18g

Dates

5.3g (7.1g)

75g

Apricots

17.4g (155g)

11.12g

Plum

17.2g (151)

11.42g

Vitamins

Figs are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also rich in vitamins B6, B1, B2, B3, and B5, listed in order of the amounts within, from high to low. Figs also contain some amounts of vitamin E, but they absolutely lack vitamin B12, vitamin B9, and vitamin D.

Vitamin coverage chart

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: 142 IU of 5,000 IU 3%
Vitamin E : 0.11 mg of 15 mg 1%
Vitamin D: 0 µg of 10 µg 0%
Vitamin C: 2 mg of 90 mg 2%
Vitamin B1: 0.06 mg of 1 mg 5%
Vitamin B2: 0.05 mg of 1 mg 4%
Vitamin B3: 0.4 mg of 16 mg 3%
Vitamin B5: 0.3 mg of 5 mg 6%
Vitamin B6: 0.113 mg of 1 mg 9%
Folate: 6 µg of 400 µg 2%
Vitamin B12: 0 µg of 2 µg 0%
Vitamin K: 4.7 µg of 120 µg 4%

Minerals

Figs contain copious amounts of calcium and potassium. They are also high in manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron.

Zinc, phosphorus, choline, and selenium can be found in low to moderate amounts. Figs are low in sodium.

Mineral coverage chart

Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium Choline 11% 14% 13% 6% 21% 1% 5% 24% 17% 2% 3%
Calcium: 35 mg of 1,000 mg 4%
Iron: 0.37 mg of 8 mg 5%
Magnesium: 17 mg of 420 mg 4%
Phosphorus: 14 mg of 700 mg 2%
Potassium: 232 mg of 3,400 mg 7%
Sodium: 1 mg of 2,300 mg 0%
Zinc: 0.15 mg of 11 mg 1%
Copper: 0.07 mg of 1 mg 8%
Manganese: 0.128 mg of 2 mg 6%
Selenium: 0.2 µg of 55 µg 0%
Choline: 4.7 mg of 550 mg 1%

Health Impact

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried. The nutritional value of a fresh fig is sometimes higher; however, figs are highly sensitive to physical damage, and dried figs are a way to spread the use of figs beyond the areas that produce it. Dried fruits have been proven to have greater nutrient density, increased shelf life, and greater phenol antioxidant content when compared to fresh fruits. Dried figs can significantly increase the antioxidant capacity of blood plasma for 4 hours after consumption (5).

Allergy

Fig allergies are not that common, with only a few cases reported to date. The main manifestations are usually either an anaphylactic reaction or an oral allergy syndrome. People with a fig allergy can often feel a tingling, itching, or swelling sensation in the mouth right after consuming the fruit. The most common allergens in figs are the proteins related to the skin (6).

Fig trees can also cause skin rashes called phytophotodermatitis due to compounds within fig leaves called furocoumarins, consisting of psoralen, bergapten, and others. Phytophotodermatitis is a toxic reaction due to skin exposure to certain plants, followed by exposure to sunlight. It is not a photoallergic reaction but rather a phototoxic one, meaning prior sensitization is not necessary, and anyone can be affected by it (7).

Scientists have discovered a cross-reactivity between fig fruit, the weeping fig, and other fruits like kiwi, papaya, avocado, pineapple, and banana. Dependent sensitization to rubber latex allergens was not found (8).

Diabetes

Studies have found that due to a phytohormone called abscisic acid, fig fruit extract supplementation can be a promising nutritional change for diabetes management. It may improve acute postprandial glucose and insulin homeostasis and be a possible adjunctive treatment for glycemic management in prediabetes and diabetes mellitus type 2 (9, 10).

Another research has treated experimental diabetes in rats with fig fruit extracts, confirming that figs’ antioxidant properties ameliorate diabetic conditions (11).

The glycemic index of dried figs is 61, which puts it in the moderate category. Compared to dried figs, dates and raisins have a higher glycemic index.

However, prunes, dried apples, peaches, and apricots have a lower glycemic index (12).

Incorporating a decoction of fig leaves as a supplement for breakfast has been proven to help patients with type 1 diabetes lower their daily required insulin dose by 12% (13).

The aqueous extract of Ficus carica leaves has been proven to have significant hypoglycemic effects in streptozotocin-diabetic rats after an oral or intraperitoneal administration (14).

Cancer

Compounds within fig latex, like sitosterols and acyl moieties, primarily palmitoyl and linoleyl, have been established to be potent cytotoxic agents, showing inhibitory effects on the proliferation of various cancer cell lines during in vitro experiments (15).

Fig tree latex and leaves can be used as a potential therapeutic treatment on colorectal cancer cells due to their antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing qualities (16).

Another study has found the active compounds bergapten and psoralen to play an important role in the anticancer effects of the fig tree leaves. Ficus carica leaves can be a good source to use in the development of drugs for suppressing cancer cell growth and migration against breast cancer (17), as well as cervical (18) and liver cancer (19).

Cardiovascular

Research has shown that the aqueous methanol extract of the fig fruit decreases the blood pressure of glucose-induced hypertensive rats, presenting with strong negative inotropic and chronotropic effects (20). This makes the fig fruit a potential substance for developing natural hypotensive drugs.

Ficus carica leaf extracts can also play a role as a food supplementation for poultry due to the fact that adding the extract significantly reduced the levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol production in poultry liver (21).

Other studies have also shown fig leaf extracts to have hypolipidemic effects in lab animals. One study showed that the extract improves the lipid profile and decreases adipogenic risk factors in high-fat diet rats (22).

Another research found the leaves to significantly affect carbohydrate metabolism enzymes, promising hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activities in type 2 diabetic rats (23).

Nevertheless, when it comes to the direct effects of the fig leaf extract on humans, it has not been proven yet. A study concluded that consumption of dried figs does not decrease serum low-density lipoprotein or total cholesterol concentrations. On the contrary total cholesterol levels increased in the subjects (24).

The fruit has been studied to repress adenosine-5-diphosphate and adrenaline-induced human platelet aggregation, expressing antiplatelet activity. The ripe dried fruit also exhibited spasmolytic activity, most probably mediated by activating potassium ion ATP channels (25).

Digestive System

Figs are often used in traditional medicine to treat constipation and various digestive issues. Scientists have researched some of those effects.

A study has shown the aqueous extract of fig leaves to have a natural laxative effect without causing diarrhea and to ameliorate functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders (26).

Figs can also be used as an effective treatment for constipation in dogs, further proving that fig paste may be useful as complementary medicine for people suffering from chronic constipation (27).

Consumption of figs can be helpful for patients with irritable bowel syndrome, improving symptoms such as frequency of pain, frequency of defecation, distention, and stool consistency (28).

In different studies over the years, figs have also been researched to have many more properties, such as hepatoprotective, antibacterial, antipyretic, antituberculosis, anthelmintic, antimutagenic, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and others (25, 29).

Fig in Diets

Keto During a keto diet, it is best to limit your carbohydrate intake to less than 50g a day. Since 2 figs contain about 20g of carbohydrates, it is advised to avoid this fruit or use it only in moderation (30)
DASH Figs are a good source of dietary fiber and potassium. They are also low in sodium, so they fit in both types of the DASH diet.
Atkins Fruits are not allowed in Atkins Phase 1, and only a limited number of fruits, of which figs are not a part, are allowed in Phase 2. However, you can have figs in moderate amounts during the Atkins 20, Phase 3, and 4, as well as the Atkins 40 and the Atkins 100 diets (31, 32).
Mediterranean Fresh fruit is essential to the Mediterranean diet, so figs fit perfectly in this one.
Paleo A paleo diet includes plenty of fruits, and since fig trees are one of the oldest cultivated fruit trees, figs are a part of the paleo diet (33).
Vegan/ Vegetarian/ Pescetarian Figs certainly suit vegetarian and pescetarian diets. However, it is debatable for a vegan diet since wasp pollinators are necessary to produce the fruit (34). Still, today there are methods of cultivating fig trees that do not require wasp pollinators.
Dukan Fruits are not allowed during the first two or Attack and Cruise phases of the diet, and you can only have one piece of fruit a day during the Consolidation Phase. Even though you can eat anything throughout the Stabilization phase, figs are one of the fruits that are advised to be avoided (35).
Intermittent Fasting You can eat figs during the eating periods, but not during fasting.
Low Fat & Low Calorie Figs have almost no fats and only 74 calories in a 100g serving. So you can eat figs during a low-fat and low-calorie diet in limited amounts.
Low Carb Two figs have almost 20g of carbohydrates, so you have to moderate the intake of these fruits during a low-carb diet. 
Anti Inflammatory Figs have strong antioxidant activities, as well as some anti-inflammatory qualities (25, 36). Figs suit this diet.
BRAT Figs are to be avoided during a BRAT diet (37).

References

  1. https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/391-296.pdf
  2. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170116-the-tree-that-shaped-human-history
  3. https://underthebanyan.blog/2016/08/25/true-or-false-figs-contain-dead-wasps/
  4. https://figfrugivory.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/figglobalreview.pdf
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279625587
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12811022/
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5973917
  8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2222.2003.01704.x
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31370154/
  10. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/67/Supplement_1/791-P
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10815622
  12. https://www.ijmrhs.com/medical-research/dry-fruits-and-diabetes-mellitus.pdf
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9597370/
  14. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11473446/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31472041/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30100743/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30705373/
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28187689/
  21. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288392707
  22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23606376/
  23. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28193094/
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3169356/
  25. Review Article Ficus carica L. (Moraceae)
  26. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29870788/
  27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22232635/
  28. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1550830718301873
  29. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328274172
  30. https://naturalmoreish.com.au/blog/are-figs-keto-friendly/
  31. https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/atkins-20/phase-4/acceptable-foods-atkins-20-phase-4
  32. https://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/atkins-100/other-carbs-atkins-100#acceptable
  33. https://paleoleap.com/paleo-foods-figs/
  34. https://www.veganlifemag.com/should-vegans-eat-figs/#
  35. https://www.dukandiet.com/weight-loss-secrets/forbidden-fruits
  36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5149042/
  37. https://www.oregonclinic.com/diets-BRAT#
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: February 11, 2022

Important nutritional characteristics for Common fig

Common fig
Glycemic index ⓘ Source:
Check out our Glycemic index chart page for the full list.
61 (medium)
Insulin index ⓘ
N/A
Calories
74
Net Carbs ⓘ Net Carbs = Total Carbohydrates – Fiber – Sugar Alcohols
16.28 grams
Serving Size ⓘ Serving sizes are taken from FDA's Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs)
1 medium (2-1/4" dia) (50 grams)
Acidity (Based on PRAL) ⓘ PRAL (Potential renal acid load) is calculated using a formula. On the PRAL scale the higher the positive value, the more is the acidifying effect on the body. The lower the negative value, the higher the alkalinity of the food. 0 is neutral.
-4.9 (alkaline)
73% Fiber
66% Sugar
64% Vitamin C
64% Net carbs
64% Carbs
Explanation: The given food contains more Fiber than 73% of foods. Note that this food itself is richer in Fiber than it is in any other nutrient. Similarly, it is relatively rich in Sugar, Vitamin C, Net carbs, and Carbs.

Common fig Glycemic index (GI)

61

Mineral chart - relative view

Calcium
35 mg
TOP 41%
Potassium
232 mg
TOP 52%
Manganese
0.128 mg
TOP 58%
Magnesium
17 mg
TOP 68%
Copper
0.07 mg
TOP 69%
Iron
0.37 mg
TOP 81%
Zinc
0.15 mg
TOP 87%
Phosphorus
14 mg
TOP 91%
Choline
4.7 mg
TOP 92%
Selenium
0.2 µg
TOP 94%
Sodium
1 mg
TOP 98%

Vitamin chart - relative view

Vitamin C
2 mg
TOP 36%
Vitamin A
142 IU
TOP 39%
Vitamin K
4.7 µg
TOP 56%
Vitamin B6
0.113 mg
TOP 61%
Vitamin B1
0.06 mg
TOP 67%
Vitamin B5
0.3 mg
TOP 74%
Folate
6 µg
TOP 76%
Vitamin B2
0.05 mg
TOP 81%
Vitamin B3
0.4 mg
TOP 81%
Vitamin E
0.11 mg
TOP 85%
Vitamin B12
0 µg
TOP 100%
Vitamin D
0 µg
TOP 100%

Protein quality breakdown

Tryptophan Threonine Isoleucine Leucine Lysine Methionine Phenylalanine Valine Histidine 7% 7% 5% 4% 5% 2% 4% 5% 5%
Tryptophan: 6 mg of 280 mg 2%
Threonine: 24 mg of 1,050 mg 2%
Isoleucine: 23 mg of 1,400 mg 2%
Leucine: 33 mg of 2,730 mg 1%
Lysine: 30 mg of 2,100 mg 1%
Methionine: 6 mg of 1,050 mg 1%
Phenylalanine: 18 mg of 1,750 mg 1%
Valine: 28 mg of 1,820 mg 2%
Histidine: 11 mg of 700 mg 2%

Fat type information

0.06% 0.066% 0.144%
Saturated Fat: 0.06 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.066 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.144 g

Fiber content ratio for Common fig

16.26% 2.9%
Sugar: 16.26 g
Fiber: 2.9 g
Other: 0.02 g

All nutrients for Common fig per 100g

Nutrient DV% In TOP % of foods Value Comparison
Net carbs N/A 36% 16.28g 3.3 times less than Chocolate Chocolate
Protein 2% 88% 0.75g 3.8 times less than Broccoli Broccoli
Fats 0% 85% 0.3g 111 times less than Cheese Cheese
Carbs 6% 36% 19.18g 1.5 times less than Rice Rice
Calories 4% 79% 74kcal 1.6 times more than Orange Orange
Sugar N/A 34% 16.26g 1.8 times more than Coca-Cola Coca-Cola
Fiber 12% 27% 2.9g 1.2 times more than Orange Orange
Calcium 4% 41% 35mg 3.6 times less than Milk Milk
Iron 5% 81% 0.37mg 7 times less than Beef Beef
Magnesium 4% 68% 17mg 8.2 times less than Almond Almond
Phosphorus 2% 91% 14mg 13 times less than Chicken meat Chicken meat
Potassium 7% 52% 232mg 1.6 times more than Cucumber Cucumber
Sodium 0% 98% 1mg 490 times less than White Bread White Bread
Zinc 1% 87% 0.15mg 42.1 times less than Beef Beef
Copper 8% 69% 0.07mg 2 times less than Shiitake Shiitake
Vitamin A 3% 39% 142IU 117.6 times less than Carrot Carrot
Vitamin E 1% 85% 0.11mg 13.3 times less than Kiwifruit Kiwifruit
Vitamin D 0% 100% 0µg N/A Egg
Vitamin C 2% 36% 2mg 26.5 times less than Lemon Lemon
Vitamin B1 5% 67% 0.06mg 4.4 times less than Pea Pea
Vitamin B2 4% 81% 0.05mg 2.6 times less than Avocado Avocado
Vitamin B3 3% 81% 0.4mg 23.9 times less than Turkey meat Turkey meat
Vitamin B5 6% 74% 0.3mg 3.8 times less than Sunflower seed Sunflower seed
Vitamin B6 9% 61% 0.11mg 1.1 times less than Oat Oat
Folate 2% 76% 6µg 10.2 times less than Brussels sprout Brussels sprout
Vitamin B12 0% 100% 0µg N/A Pork
Vitamin K 4% 56% 4.7µg 21.6 times less than Broccoli Broccoli
Tryptophan 0% 97% 0.01mg 50.8 times less than Chicken meat Chicken meat
Threonine 0% 96% 0.02mg 30 times less than Beef Beef
Isoleucine 0% 96% 0.02mg 39.7 times less than Salmon Salmon
Leucine 0% 97% 0.03mg 73.7 times less than Tuna Tuna
Lysine 0% 97% 0.03mg 15.1 times less than Tofu Tofu
Methionine 0% 97% 0.01mg 16 times less than Quinoa Quinoa
Phenylalanine 0% 97% 0.02mg 37.1 times less than Egg Egg
Valine 0% 96% 0.03mg 72.5 times less than Soybean Soybean
Histidine 0% 97% 0.01mg 68.1 times less than Turkey meat Turkey meat
Cholesterol 0% 100% 0mg N/A Egg
Trans Fat N/A 100% 0g N/A Margarine
Saturated Fat 0% 85% 0.06g 98.3 times less than Beef Beef
Monounsaturated Fat N/A 83% 0.07g 148.5 times less than Avocado Avocado
Polyunsaturated fat N/A 82% 0.14g 327.6 times less than Walnut Walnut

Check out similar food or compare with current

NUTRITION FACTS LABEL

Nutrition Facts
___servings per container
Serving Size ______________
Amount Per 100g
Calories 74
% Daily Value*
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 1mg
6%
Total Carbohydrate 19g
12%
Dietary Fiber 3g
Total Sugars g
Includes ? g Added Sugars
Protein 1g
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%

Calcium 35mg 4%

Iron 0mg 0%

Potassium 232mg 7%

*
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Health checks

Low in Cholesterol
ok
 ⓘ Dietary cholesterol is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in healthy individuals. However, dietary cholesterol is common in foods that are high in harmful saturated fats.
Source
No Trans Fats
ok
 ⓘ Trans fat consumption increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality by negatively affecting blood lipid levels.
Source
Low in Saturated Fats
ok
 ⓘ Saturated fat intake can raise total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, leading to an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Dietary guidelines recommend limiting saturated fats to under 10% of calories a day.
Source
Low in Sodium
ok
 ⓘ Increased sodium consumption leads to elevated blood pressure.
Source
Low in Sugars
ok
 ⓘ While the consumption of moderate amounts of added sugars is not detrimental to health, an excessive intake can increase the risk of obesity, and therefore, diabetes.
Source

Common fig nutrition infographic

Common fig nutrition infographic
Infographic link

References

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

  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173021/nutrients

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