Are There Health Differences Between Dried and Fresh Figs?
Though you can eat dried figs year-round, there's something special about eating fresh figs, which hit their peak in the summertime. And there are plenty of health benefits of figs, especially when they're fresh and raw. They're high in natural sugars and a good source of soluble fiber, as well as antioxidants. Plus, if you're conscious about this kind of thing, you'll be happy to know there are probably fewer calories in a fig than you might assume, especially given how sweet and rich a fig can be. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, a large, raw fig has only 47 calories. That's fewer calories than a whole banana.
But when it's not summertime, it's hard—if not impossible—to get your hands on some fresh figs, and so most of us end up eating dried figs. So are dried figs as healthy as fresh figs? Well, there are definitely differences between the nutritional benefits of dried figs versus fresh figs. Dried figs tend to have more calories per cup than fresh figs; according to the USDA, 100 grams of fresh figs are only about 80 calories while 100 grams of dried, uncooked figs have almost 250 calories. But that makes sense. Dried figs are smaller than fresh figs, since all the water's been removed, so you're going to get more figs per cup when they're dried than if they're raw.
As far as the other health benefits are concerned though, there's actually very little difference between dried and raw figs. For example, eating three to five figs, whether they're dried or raw, will provide you the same amount of dietary fiber, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. There's also some evidence that dried fruits, like dried figs, have more concentrated levels of antioxidants than their fresh counterparts.
All of this assumes, however, that the dried figs you're eating have no added sugar. If you really want to make sure that the dried fig you're eating is just as healthy as the fruit plucked straight off of the tree, be sure to check the ingredients label. Some dried fruits have added sugar or even some kind of corn syrup, which kind of negates a lot of the health benefits of eating this sweet fruit in the first place—so if there has been sugar added to your dried fig, the healthier option is definitely the fresh fig.