Health Benefits Of Figs

What is figs

Figs (Ficus carica L.) are a classic fruit tree part of the Moraceae plant family and native to the Mediterranean region. The fig has a uniquely sweet taste with a soft and chewy texture and is filled with small, edible seeds. Fresh figs are commonly consumed worldwide but are easily perishable so are often dried to preserve them.1

Fascinatingly, both dried and fresh figs have a number of health benefits as they are a great source of fibre and are full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin b6, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. In fact, the fruit, root, and leaves of the fig are used to treat many medical conditions including gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular disorders.1

This article will explore the nutritional value of figs as well as their  many health benefits.

Health benefits of figs

Antioxidant properties

Figs are rich in antioxidants as they contain many phenolic plant compounds such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. These compounds have important protective properties as they protect the body against free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is harmful to the human body as it can cause damage to cells and tissues. There is a large body of research that suggests that oxidative stress plays a role in the onset and/or progression of many diseases including diabetes, cancer, metabolic disorders, heart disease, and atherosclerosis.1,2 

Anti-cancer properties

Several studies have also shown that figs have anti-cancer properties. One study isolated a cytotoxic agent from fig extract and found that it had inhibitory effects on the growth of many cancer cell lines.1 

Moreover, figs are a rich source of dietary fibre which aids in cancer prevention. Research shows that an unhealthy lifestyle including an unhealthy diet consisting of low-fibre  fruits and vegetables can increase the risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends eating around 2.5 cups of fruit and vegetables per day for cancer prevention. Another study found that a high intake of fibre from fruits and berries significantly lowered the risk of colon cancer by 30%.3 

Support healthy blood pressure

A diet high in sodium (salt) can lead to deficiencies of potassium and this imbalance can lead to hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Consuming a diet consisting of many fruits and vegetables, including fresh figs, increases potassium levels and is therefore crucially  in managing blood pressure. One study found that extracts of fig significantly decreased blood pressure in both normal and hypertensive rats. These findings show that figs improve vascular health and can decrease your risk of heart disease.4

Support digestive health

Figs are a rich source of fibre which therefore has many protective properties for digestive health. They have commonly been used as home remedies for digestive problems such as constipation. This is because the dietary fibre found in many whole fruits such as figs is  effective at relieving constipation symptoms by softening stool and therefore reducing constipation. Research shows that a daily intake of two servings of fruits rich in fibre helps to protect against constipation. Similarly, another study found that a daily serving of 5-10g of fruit fibre is effective at reducing the risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and preventing flare-ups  in patients with IBS.3

The fibre in figs also has prebiotic properties as it acts as a food source for the healthy bacteria in your gut and promotes a healthy gut environment.3

Weight control

Figs are naturally high in dietary fibre and various minerals and vitamins that  can help weight management. Foods high in fibre reduce hunger and cravings by providing a feeling of fullness and can therefore aid in weight loss. One study found that an increased intake of whole fruit was protective against weight gain and obesity. Another study found that women with the highest intake of fibre had a 49% lower risk of major weight gain.3 

Bone health

Figs are a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium which are minerals that support bone health. Out of these minerals, figs are especially rich in calcium and on average, they contain 3.2 times more than other fruit.5

Figs are also a good source of potassium which is another mineral that contributes to bone health. Research shows that a diet high in potassium can counteract the urinary excretion of calcium which is caused by a high salt diet. This means that the calcium remains in bones, reducing  the risk of osteoporosis.6

Nutritional facts

80g of fresh figs provides:7

  • 34 kcal/148 KJ
  • 0.2g of fat
  • 1.0g of protein
  • 1.6g of fibre 
  • 7.6g of carbohydrate
  • 160mg of potassium
  • 12mg of magnesium
  • 30mg of calcium
  • 120mcg of carotene

Whereas 30g of dried figs provides:7

  • 68 kcal/290 KJ
  • 1.1g of protein
  • 0.5g of fat
  • 15.9g of carbohydrates
  • 3g of fibre
  • 291 mg of potassium
  • 75mg of calcium
  • 24mg of magnesium
  • 1.26mg of iron

Figs have a high nutritional value as they contain a variety of nutrients such as: 

  • Copper - helps to produce white and red blood cells and is also involved in metabolism, energy production, brain development, and the immune system
  • Vitamin B6 - helps the body to use and store carbohydrates and protein in food and helps the body form hemoglobin
  • Vitamin K - helps in blood clotting, wound healing, and bone health
  • Polyphenols - naturally occurring compounds that contribute to the taste and colour of figs. They have antioxidant properties that provide a variety of health benefits
  • Dietary fibre - promotes a healthy digestive system and aids in weight management
  • Calcium - supports bone and teeth health, regulates muscle contractions (including your heartbeat), and aids in blood clotting
  • Potassium - helps control the balance of fluids in your body and helps the heart muscle to work properly
  • Magnesium - helps turn the food we eat into energy and supports bone health

There are many ways you can add figs to your diet. For example:7

  • Fresh figs - contain some natural sugars, they are rich in nutrients and also low in calories which makes them an excellent healthy snack
  • Dried figs - high in sugar and calories as the sugar becomes concentrated when the fruit dries. This means that they are not as healthy as fresh figs and should only be eaten in moderation. However, they are more effective at relieving constipation symptoms than fresh figs
  • Fig leaves - are very nutritious and, similarly to grape leaves, can be used in many ways such as a wrap for dishes containing meat, rice, or other fillings
  • Fig leaf tea - made from dried fig leaves. You can make it yourself or purchase it online or in stores

Side effects and other concerns

Figs are generally safe for most people to consume. However, if you have an allergy to birch pollen you may experience a cross-reactivity  to figs. Some people may also be allergic to the natural latex found in fig trees.

Moreover, figs contain a high level of oxalates so if you have been advised to follow a low-oxalate diet then you should avoid or limit your intake of figs. In addition, figs are a rich source of vitamin k which can interfere with blood-thinning medication. If you have been prescribed blood-thinning medications, you should limit your intake of figs and other vitamin K-rich  foods.

Vegans may avoid eating figs because some varieties are pollinated by wasps which die during pollination. However, commercial figs are grown without wasp pollination so should be acceptable for vegans.

In general, figs are safe to consume for most people but should be limited if they are new to you as they may have a laxative effect.


In summary, figs are a unique, sweet-tasting fruit packed with nutrients that provide us with a variety of health benefits. These health benefits include promoting a healthy digestive system, supporting heart health, and decreasing the risk of heart disease as well as supporting skin and bone health. Figs can be consumed either fresh or as dried figs and are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals including vitamin k, vitamin b6, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Although they contain some natural sugars, they are a reasonably low-calorie  snack and so are a great addition to your diet. Figs are generally safe to consume for most people but should be avoided by people who are allergic to birch pollen or latex as well as people who take blood-thinning medications or people who follow a low-oxalate diet. 


  1. Mawa S, Husain K, Jantan I. Ficus carica l. (Moraceae): phytochemistry, traditional uses, and biological activities. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2023 Mar 17];2013:974256. Available from:
  2. Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, Pallio G, Mannino F, Arcoraci V, et al. Oxidative stress: harms and benefits for human health. Oxid Med Cell Longev [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 Mar 17];2017:8416763. Available from: 
  3. Dreher ML. Whole fruits and fruit fiber emerging health effects. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Nov 28 [cited 2023 Mar 17];10(12):1833. Available from: 
  4. Alamgeer, Iman S, Asif H, Saleem M. Evaluation of the antihypertensive potential of Ficus carica fruit. Pharm Biol [Internet]. 2017 Feb 10 [cited 2023 Mar 17];55(1):1047–53. Available from: 
  5. O’Brien TG, Kinnaird MF, Dierenfeld ES, Conklin-Brittain NL, Wrangham RW, Silver SC. What’s so special about figs? Nature [Internet]. 1998 Apr [cited 2023 Mar 17];392(6677):668–668. Available from: 
  6. Ha J, Kim SA, Lim K, Shin S. The association of potassium intake with bone mineral density and the prevalence of osteoporosis among older Korean adults. Nutr Res Pract [Internet]. 2020 Feb [cited 2023 Mar 17];14(1):55–61. Available from: 
  7. Top 5 health benefits of figs [Internet]. BBC Good Food. [cited 2023 Mar 17]. Available from: 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suad Mussa

Bachelor of Science – BSc, Biology. Queen Mary University of London

Suad Mussa is a biology graduate with a strong passion for medical writing and educating the public about health and wellbeing.

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