Health Benefits of Figs

Fig fruit (Ficus carica L.) is indigenous to western Asia.1 In the Middle East and Mediterranean regions figs symbolize longevity and have been consumed since ancient times.2

Figs have been called a “fruit without a flower” because they don’t display an outward bloom. Figs do however produce hundreds of tiny edible flowers that form, grow, and bloom on the inside cavity of the fruit. Their skins, which range from green to black-violet are edible and their small seeds provide a subtle crunch.345

There are many types of figs and unlike wild figs, most commercially available varieties do not require pollination by wasps. This is contrary to the common belief that all figs contain wasps that have died inside the fruit after depositing pollen from another fig.654

Figs provide fiberantioxidants, and smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals.32 Fig consumption is linked to a number of positive health outcomes, including inflammation reduction, less painful periods, and healthy weight management.

Keep reading to learn more about figs’ main health benefits.

Rich in Antioxidants

Both the flesh and skins of figs contain several antioxidants, primarily phenolic acids and flavonoids.32 Phenolic acids, which are absorbed from the digestive system into the bloodstream, have potent anti-inflammatory effects in the body. They offset damage caused by compounds called free radicals.7

Free radicals are produced through normal metabolism and in response to exercise, sun exposure, and environmental pollutants, like cigarette smoke and smog.8 Over time, the buildup of free radicals is largely responsible for aging and may play a role in the development of diseases, including cancer and heart disease, as well as conditions like arthritis.9

Support Digestive Health

The fiber in figs supports bowel regularity. Figs also have prebiotics, which help feed beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut tied to anti-inflammation.10 Fig consumption may also be helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who have predominant-constipation IBS, also known as IBS-C.

In one study people with this condition who ate about four dried figs twice per day experienced less pain, defecation, and hard stools compared to those who received a placebo.3

May Support Menstrual Health

One recent study looked at the effects of eating dried figs on symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea, or period pains, which are experienced one or two days per month by more than half of people who menstruate.1112

Researchers found that participants who ate dried figs had significantly lower scores for pain severity and duration, menstrual distress, and perceived stress over the course of three periods as compared to those who consumed either cinnamon or a placebo.12

May Improve Inflammatory Conditions

A 2022 research review concluded that anti-inflammatory compounds in both figs and olives, consumed separately or together, can decrease or inhibit the effects of compounds that cause inflammation, called cytokines. Cytokines are known to accelerate damage to cells of the lungs, kidneys, brain, and other tissues in patients with COVID-19.

The ability of figs to counter cytokines may help support people with a wide range of inflammatory conditions, from allergies to rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), sinusitis, and tuberculosis.13

May Help Support Weight Management

While the research is limited, studies show that eating dried fruits, including figs, is associated with having a lower body weight. In addition, Consuming figs regularly has been shown to support healthy weight management by improving post-meal satiety and blood sugar regulation.3

May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

A 2022 research review looked at the potential effects of figs on the ability to inhibit the formation of tumors and the development of cancer cells. Researchers conclude that natural compounds in figs may help prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading in the body. However, the majority of the studies reviewed were conducted on cancer cells in labs rather than in humans, and two were carried out in animals, so more research is needed to study the potential connection between figs and reducing cancer risks.14

Nutritional Facts of Figs

Figs provide energy-supporting carbohydrates, fiber, and smaller amounts of a range of key minerals. One medium fresh fig provides:15

  • Calories: 37
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 0.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 9.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.45 grams
  • Naturally occurring sugar: 8.15 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams

One quarter cup of dried figs provides:16

  • Calories: 103
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 3.75 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 23 grams
  • Fiber: 3.65 grams
  • Naturally occurring sugar: 17.85 grams
  • Protein: 1.23 grams

While the amount of minerals per serving is small, figs provide the highest mineral content compared to other common fruits. They offer a small percentage of the daily requirement for potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc.3

Risks of Eating Figs

While rare, it is possible to be allergic to figs. People who are allergic to latex or birch pollen may also experience an allergic reaction to figs.171819

Figs are also a high FODMAP food.20 FODMAPs are sugars that are not completely digested or absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream. When FODMAPs pass into the large intestine they are fermented by bacteria, which triggers the production of gas. This can cause the intestinal wall to stretch and expand, which may lead to discomfort or pain, particularly in people with IBS who have highly sensitive digestive systems.21

Tips for Consuming Figs

Figs can be consumed fresh, dried, and they can be enjoyed uncooked or cooked. Healthy ways to enjoy figs include:

  • Slice fresh or dried figs and slather with nut butter.
  • Add fresh or dried figs to a garden salad or slaw.
  • Layer fresh figs with dairy-based or plant-based yogurt and nuts.
  • Use minced dried figs as a garnish for cooked veggies, like stir-fries and oven roasted vegetables.
  • Roast fresh figs and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  • Incorporate minced dried figs into energy balls made with nut butter and rolled oats.
  • Scoop up sliced fresh figs with dessert hummus or maple-sweetened tahini.
  • Dip fresh figs into melted dark chocolate.

A Quick Review

Figs are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and provide fiber and smaller amounts of a variety of minerals. They may also support digestive, gut, and menstrual health, improve inflammatory conditions, aid weight management, and offer cancer protection.

If you have IBS or allergies to latex or birch pollen talk with your healthcare provider before incorporating figs into your diet.


  1. University of California Davis. Fig in California.
  2. Arvaniti OS, Samaras Y, Gatidou G, Thomaidis NS, et al. Review on fresh and dried figs: Chemical analysis and occurrence of phytochemical compounds, antioxidant capacity and health effects. Food Res Int. 2019 May;119:244-267. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2019.01.055. Epub 2019 Jan 24.
  3. Sandhu AK, Islam M, Edirisinghe I, Burton-Freeman B. Phytochemical composition and health benefits of figs (fresh and dried): A review of literature from 2000 to 2022. Nutrients. 2023 Jun; 15(11): 2623. Published online 2023 Jun 3. doi: 10.3390/nu15112623
  4. North Carolina State University. Ficus carica.
  5. Rutgers University. Figs in the Home Garden.
  6. Arizona State University. Figs Without Wasps?
  7. Kumar N, Goel N. Phenolic acids: Natural versatile molecules with promising therapeutic applications. Biotechnol Rep (Amst). 2019 Dec; 24: e00370. Published online 2019 Aug 20. doi: 10.1016/j.btre.2019.e00370
  8. Sharifi-Rad M, Anil Kumar NV, Zucca P, et al. Lifestyle, oxidative stress, and antioxidants: back and forth in the pathophysiology of chronic diseases. Front Physiol. 2020;11:694. doi:10.3389/fphys.2020.00694
  9. MedlinePlus. Vitamin C.
  10. Dreher ML. Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients. 2018 Dec; 10(12): 1833. Published online 2018 Nov 28. doi: 10.3390/nu10121833
  11. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods.
  12. Amanak K. Effects of Dry Figs on Primary Dysmenorrhea Symptoms, perceived Stress Levels and the Quality of Life. P R Health Sci J. 2020 Dec;39(4):319-326.
  13. Rezagholizadeh L, Aghamohammadian M, Oloumi M, Banaei S, et al. Inhibitory effects of Ficus carica and Olea europaea on pro-inflammatory cytokines: A review. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2022 Mar; 25(3): 268–275. doi: 10.22038/IJBMS.2022.60954.13494
  14. Morovati MR, Ghanbari-Movahed M, Barton EM, Farzaei MH, et al. A systematic review on potential anticancer activities of Ficus carica L. with focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms. Phytomedicine. 2022 Oct;105:154333. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2022.154333. Epub 2022 Jul 10.
  15. Food Data Central. Figs, raw.
  16. Food Data Central. Figs, dried, uncooked.
  17. Hemmer W, Focke M, Marzban G, Swoboda R, et al. Identification of Bet v 1-related allergens in fig and other Moraceae fruits. Clin Exp Allergy. 2010 Apr;40(4):679-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2010.03486.x.
  18. Cruz NV, Bahna SL, Knight AK. Fig Allergy: Not Just Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).  Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2007 Jan; 119:1:S110.
  19. Urbani S, Aruanno A, Nucera E. Adverse reaction to Ficus Carica: reported case of a possible cross-reactivity with Der p1. Clin Mol Allergy. 2020 Jun 3;18:9. doi: 10.1186/s12948-020-00125-6. eCollection 2020.
  20. Monash University. Where FODMAPs are Found in Foods.
  21. Monash University. What are FODMAPs?

Important Notice: This article was originally published at by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD where all credits are due. Medically reviewed by Kierra Brown, RD


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