Health & Nutrition
- Do figs fit in a diabetic diet?
Healthful eating helps keep blood glucose, also called blood sugar, in the target range suggested by diabetes experts for good health. The diabetes food pyramid (similar to the US Food Guide Pyramid) can help you make wise food choices. It divides foods into groups, based on what they contain. In general, health professionals recommend eating more servings from the groups at the bottom of the pyramid (starches, vegetables and fruits), and less from the groups at the top. Foods from the starches, fruits, vegetables, and milk groups are highest in carbohydrate and affect your blood glucose levels the most.
How many servings from each group you should eat each day depends on how many calories you consume. A health professional can help you put together a plan that works best for your lifestyle. It will include a recommended number of servings from each of the food groups. Dried figs fall into the fruit group. Fruits provide carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All fruits including fresh, dried, frozen, canned, and juices can be part of your food plan. Serving sizes vary and are important to keep in mind. For example one serving equals 1 small apple or ½ cup juice or ¼ cup dried fruit or ½ grapefruit.
For more information go to: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC). A service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov ; http://www.diabetes.org.
- I know there are health claims allowed on certain foods. Do figs qualify for any?
- Yes. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, a fruit or vegetable, that’s low in fat, and a good source (without fortification) of at least one of the following: vitamin A, vitamin C, or dietary fiber, can make a heath claim regarding cancer. Because figs are high in dietary fiber, the following claim could be made on the package: low fat diets rich in fruits and vegetables (foods that are low in fat and may contain dietary fiber, Vitamin A, or Vitamin C) may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, a disease associated with many factors. Figs are high in fiber. http://www.fda.gov/
- I’m allergic to milk and milk products, so I’m always looking for other foods containing calcium. I know figs have some calcium; what can you tell me about the amount?
- It may surprise you to know that when you eat a half-cup of figs you get as much calcium as when you drink a half-cup of milk. Needed for strong bones and teeth, calcium is often lacking in diets. A 3.5 ounce (100g) serving of figs provides 133mg calcium and the same amount of low fat milk contains 142mg calcium.
- Do figs have gluten?
- No. In general, fruits do not contain gluten so they are great to include on a gluten-free diet.
- What’s the Glycemic Index for figs?
The glycemic index or GI rates the effects of a food on blood sugar levels. The more significantly and more rapidly a food elevates blood glucose levels, the higher that food ranks on a scale of zero to 100.
A serving of dried figs weighing 60g, or 2 oz., has a GI value of 61, according to measurements done by the Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney, Australia), unpublished observations, 1995-2007. These measurements were not done on California Dried Figs, and there is no data that we know of specific to California Figs.
Dried figs have a moderate ranking on the glycemic index. If you're planning meals and snacks based on the GI value of the foods you eat, you can eat dried figs without experiencing a rapid, marked increase in your blood sugar.
- What has more potassium, figs, bananas or oranges?
- It might surprise you to know that ounce-for-ounce figs have more potassium than bananas or oranges, fruits often recommended as good sources of potassium. So 100g of figs provide 609mg potassium, bananas provide 257mg and oranges provide 181mg. If you look at common serving sizes, it changes a little. Four figs provide 244mg potassium, 1 banana provides 324mg, and 1 orange provides 279mg.
- I’m always hearing people talk about antioxidants. What are they and do figs have them?
Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods including nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry, and fish.
Figs are loaded with antioxidants. Recent research has shown that figs are a good source of the flavonoid quercetin, a strong antioxidant considered to be protective against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Other research has shown figs to be very high in polyphenols, another substance with strong antioxidant properties.
- I’m reading a lot about “digestive health”. Are figs good for a healthy digestive tract?
- Figs are high in fiber and so contribute to good digestive health. Many people eat too many processed foods and foods full of added sugars and not enough fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods. Add at least 30 minutes a day of activity and that will help, too.
- How much fruit should I be eating each day for a “healthy” diet?
- About 2 cups each day. For more information go to ChooseMyPlate.gov and http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/fruits_amount_table.html
Food & Cooking
- Can I use figs like applesauce as a fat substitute?
Figs naturally hold moisture in baked goods and can be pureed and used as a fat substitute. Keep in mind, when replacing fat in baked goods, it’s best to only replace a small amount of the fat. Fat not only flavors baked goods, but plays an important role in the texture as well. Fruit purees as fat replacements work best in moist, soft and chewy baked goods—not crispy. A general rule of thumb is: omit half the fat, and replace it with half the amount of fig puree.
So, if a recipe calls for 1 cup butter, you would omit 1/2 cup butter and replace it with 1/4 cup fig puree. Be careful not to over mix the batter and you may want to reduce the sugar called for in the recipe by about one-third.
- Fig Puree Recipe
- 2 cups California dried Figs
- ¾ cup water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until smooth. Makes about 1 ½ cups.
- Can I freeze figs?
- Yes. Figs can be frozen in an airtight bag or container for up to one year.
- What suggestions do you have for chopping figs—it’s really hard because they stick to the knife?
- Run your knife under hot water periodically when you are chopping the figs. You also can lightly spray your knife with non-stick cooking spray.
- How do I know which figs to use in a recipe?
- For most recipes you can use either of our most common fig varieties, golden Calimyrna Figs or dark purple Mission Figs. Calimyrnas tend to be larger, so if you are stuffing figs, we suggest you use these. Mission Figs end to be a bit smaller and are great for recipes that call for sliced, chopped or diced figs. You can also stuff the Mission Figs, but it is not as easy. Keep the color of the figs in mind when you are choosing your recipes. Would you like to see a dark colored fig or would a light golden fig look better?
- Can I substitute dried figs for fresh (and vice versa) in recipes?
- Not usually. Fresh figs have a lot more “liquid” in them than dried and the textures are completely different. We recommend you use fresh figs in recipes that call for fresh and dried figs in recipes that call for dried.
- What is the white crystallized substance on my figs?
The “white sugar crystals” that occasionally appear on dried figs are the naturally occurring fruit sugars that have come to the surface and crystallized. This process sometimes happens in exceptionally sweet figs. These natural fruit sugars are edible and many enjoy the light, delicate crunch they add to their fig eating experience.
The natural sugar coating is easily eliminated, if desired. When the figs are to be eaten as whole figs, a light wash with warm water will dissolve the sugar. Or, the sugar can be turned into a delicate glaze by putting the figs into a warm oven at low temperature for a few minutes. When used in prepared dishes, the figs’ natural sugar crystals will dissolve in the baking or cooking process.
Here are some specific proportions and directions that might be helpful, if you want to remove the naturally occurring sugar crystals:
- 1. Place ½ cup figs in a microwave-safe dish.
- 2. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon water.
- 3. Cover loosely and microwave on high for one minute.
- What’s the difference between the purple figs and the golden figs?
The dark purple fig is the Mission Fig. Mission Figs are known for their distinctive sweet flavor and deep purple color. The seeds tend to be tinier than in other varieties and the skin is thinner.
The golden, amber-colored Calimyrna Fig is know for it sweet, slightly nutty flavor. The seeds in the Calimyrna tend to be a little more robust and the skin a little chewier.
- Are your figs Kosher?
- Valley Fig Growers products sold in retail are certified Kosher by Triangle K, Inc. All retail products also are certified Kosher for Passover by Triangle KP. Look for the Triangle K or Triangle K-P on our Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid brands.