Can diabetics eat figs? Yes, diabetics can eat fresh figs in limited amounts, as part of an overall healthy, varied and balanced diet. However, because they are relatively high in sugar, with 16 g for every 100 g of fruit, you can eat fresh figs with diabetes as long as you don’t exceed your daily recommended intake of sugar and total carbohydrates. This intake is best established by your doctor or an expert dietitian. Dried figs on the other hand are best avoided in a diabetic diet because they are too high in sugar, containing up to three times more sugar than the fresh fruit and thus will raise blood sugar levels too fast too much.
Both fresh and dried figs provide a variety of health benefits and bring an important contribution to our nutritional status. The fruit provide small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They are especially rich in dietary fiber, a nutrient which slows down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, a major benefit for diabetes. There are 2.9 g of dietary fiber in 100 g of fresh figs and 9.8 g of dietary fiber in 100 g of dried figs, which is a lot.
Actually, the good fiber content is what makes fresh figs safe for diabetes in moderate amounts seen that fiber slows down the absorption of the sugar in the fruit and prevents blood sugar spikes. At the same time, the excellent fiber content of dried figs doesn’t make them safe for diabetes because other factors weigh more in terms of health effects, notably the high sugar, total carbohydrates content and glycemic index. Combined, these factors dictate the effects of the fruit on a diabetic person’s health more than just the fiber content and, unfortunately, indicate it’s best to avoid dried figs with diabetes.
Diabetes and figs fiber content
There are 2.9 g of dietary fiber in 100 g of the fresh fruit, which is a good enough amount to provide hypoglycemic effects. Dietary fiber is known to delay digestion and the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. What this means is that eating fresh figs helps maintain steady blood sugar levels and prevents sudden rises, which is especially good for diabetes. However, because the sugar in fresh figs does add up if you eat too much and, after a certain extent, the effects of the fiber become irrelevant compared the effects of a too high sugar intake, only limited amounts of the fresh fruit may be consumed safely with diabetes.
Diabetes and figs sugar content
Fresh figs are high in sugar (16.26 g per 100 g of fruit) and merely tolerated in a diabetic diet in limited amounts. Even with their good fiber content, eating too much can result in blood sugar spikes and side effects for diabetes. It’s not just how the fiber tempers the absorption of the sugar in the fruits, because it does. It’s also a matter of fresh figs having a lot of sugar to begin with which eventually accumulates and this can be problematic in a diabetic diet which comes with dietary restrictions, especially restrictions regarding how much sugar you can eat in a day.
In order to have a better idea of how high in sugar figs are, know they have more sugar than cherries (12.82 g per 100 g of fruit), watermelon (6.2 g), pineapple (10 g) and about as much as grapes (15.48 g in European grapes and 16.25 g in American grapes). So if you have diabetes, know that you can eat fresh figs safely, but only in limited amounts. Also see Can You Eat Grapes With Diabetes?
Diabetes and figs total carbohydrate content
There are 19.18 g of total carbohydrates in 100 g of fresh figs, of which 16.26 g are sugars. Diabetics must be mindful not only of their sugar intake, but also of their intake of carbohydrates. All diabetics have restrictions on how much carbohydrates they can eat in a day and this is because a lot of carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars during digestion and contribute to blood sugar levels. The reason they’re called total carbohydrates is to differentiate between simple sugars in fruits and other foods (which are also called carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates) and other carbohydrates that are not sugar, but broken down into it.
Figs glycemic index (GI)
The glycemic index refers to how fast the naturally occurring sugars and the sugars that are obtained from the rest of the carbohydrates in figs are absorbed into the bloodstream. Between 0-55 is a low GI. Between 55-69 is a moderate GI. Between 70-100 is a high GI. Fresh figs have a glycemic index as low as 35, sometimes over 40, but still low. The low glycemic index is owed to the good fiber content of the fruit. What this means is that eating moderate amounts of fresh figs is good for diabetes because the sugars in the figs are absorbed slowly. But if you eat too much, the low glycemic index won’t matter since the sugars will eventually accumulate and result in unhealthy blood sugar levels.
Fresh figs and diabetes diets
Bottom line is, fresh figs are good for diabetes if you eat them in limited amounts and do not exceed your daily recommended intake of sugar and total carbohydrates. They are best eaten with lean protein meals or low carbohydrate meals and never with other fruits, especially not high GI fruits. One serving is best spread over the course of a day to minimize the risk of dietary excesses. But if you eat too much at once, fresh figs can be bad for diabetes as they are an important source of sugar which will accumulate and ultimately raise blood sugar levels. A limited intake is advised for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes and dried figs
Dried figs have about 3 times more sugar (47.92 g), carbs (63.87 g) and calories (249 kilocalories vs 74 kcal) than fresh ones and a moderate to high glycemic index (61), meaning they are not the best choice of fruit for a diabetic diet. And it’s not that you can’t eat them, but rather it’s better that you don’t or at least not very often. It’s quite difficult to estimate what a good portion size would be, especially since 1 small dried fig will have more sugar, carbs and calories than a fresh one. This paves the way for excesses which come with side effects.
So are dried figs safe for diabetes?
Generally no; not dried fruits really are. If the disease is incipient and under control, a diabetic patient may have 1-2 dried figs in a day, but not every day and not very often. Going for a walk afterwards or exercising prevents possible spikes in blood sugar levels. But if the disease is advanced, whether it’s type 1 or type 2 diabetes, dried figs and other fruits are best avoided altogether.
Do dried figs have sugar on them?
Yes, but it’s natural, coming from the fruit itself. The white powder on dried figs is actually crystallized sugar. As the fruit dries out, sugars may come to the surface and crystallize. Dried figs with a white powdery coating similar to a light white mold bloom are actually some of the sweetest varieties. Sometimes, a white powdery coating may indicate older fruit, so check the label for production and expiration dates.
Times have changed and so have views on whether or not you can eat fruits if you have diabetes. A lot of fresh fruits are good options, but dried fruits are best avoided since they pack a lot of sugar, carbs and calories and it’s just too easy to eat too much. Fresh figs are good to eat in limited amounts and in the right meal combinations, but dried figs are best avoided because it’s just too easy to eat too many.
This post was updated on Tuesday / August 4th, 2020 at 8:27 PM