Today is National Fig Newton Day, so we have to give an ode to figs as they’re rightly due one. Figs aren’t just for eating in Fig Newtons, however. In fact, organic dried figs are one of the best dried fruits you can choose, despite being higher in sugar than fresh figs (also a great choice). Figs are offer an  incredibly delectable flavor that is somewhat like a raisin, less intense than a date, but still creamy, sweet and indulgent that you just won’t get elsewhere. You can use dried figs anywhere you would normally use a date, whether it be in raw desserts, smoothies, dried granola bars, raw energy bites or however else you enjoy using dried fruit.

There’s of course, nothing wrong with dates, but you might be surprised to find that figs have a leg up on dates when it comes to nutrition. So much so, that we have to give them a spotlight today and show you just how much figs have to offer.

Health Benefits of Figs Compared to Dates

Check out these reasons to use dried figs more often and put those dates to the side for later use.

1. Richer in Fiber

Per fruit, figs offer a much better source of soluble fiber, with 4-5 grams per fruit versus dates which have around 2-3 grams. Figs are also linked to good digestive health, help to relieve constipation, and contribute to good heart health.

2. Lower in Sugar

For all of you out there who watch your sugar intake (good for you!), you’ll be glad to know that dried figs contain almost 7-10 grams less than dates per weight. Two to three dates is around 23 grams of sugar(depending on the size and variety), while the same amount of figs is only 13 grams of sugar. Since figs are higher in fiber and lower in sugar, they’re better if you have sensitive blood sugar levels.

3. Higher Source of Minerals

Figs also offer more minerals, especially iron, magnesium and calcium, in which they’re plentiful by double the amount of dates. The only exception is potassium, which figs are still high in, but not as high as dates. Figs are also higher in zinc than dates, but not by double like the other minerals. Calcium is an important nutrient for strong bones and a healthy nervous system, as is magnesium and iron. Zinc contributes to a healthy immune system and can also help keep your skin clear by combating inflammation.

4. Lower in Calories

Not to focus on calories over quality, but while we’re making a comparison, figs win in the calorie department too. Figs have 15 percent less calories than dates, which means you can eat double the amount that you can of dates and still satisfy your sweet tooth, or eat half the amount you would of dates to take in less sugar. Though it might not seem like a large amount, 15 percent by weight makes a big difference each time you eat.

5. Helpful For Removing Harmful Estrogens

Estrogen is a hormone both women (and even men) have naturally. When functioning properly, our bodies produce the right amount at the time needed. However, environmental toxins, low-quality food, and even our health can all affect how much excess estrogen we take in. Too much estrogen in the body can lead to weight gain, mood swings, contribute to menopause problems or cause polycystic ovarian syndrome in women, cause headaches, and even breast or uterine cancer. Some foods naturally help remove harmful estrogens, and figs are one of the best, most well-known foods for this issue (along with pomegranates, onions, avocados, citrus fruits, kale, and broccoli). Dates don’t offer this same benefit, so if estrogen is a concern to you, rethink using those dates and try some figs instead.

So, there you have it- five reasons to give dried figs a try. Want the most antioxidants? Go with Black Mission figs, which are higher in antioxidants than other types of figs, along with higher than all forms of dates.

Health Benefits of Figs Compared to Dates

Fig Tip:

Soak dried figs for 30 minutes before use so they’ll plump up nicely and puree in a jiffy! The soaking water can also be used in recipes since it’s rich in nutrients and delightful dark purple color, indicating the high antioxidant content.

Try figs in: Raw Almond Vegan Fig Bars, Speculoos Truffles with Fig Almond Crumble, Gluten-Free Fig Newton ClonesFig and Peach Chia Smoothie, Raw Fig Pie, or Super Health Vegan Berry Fruit Tarts With Chia Seeds. Or, substitute it for dates in any of our energy bite or bar recipes, or toss them in some morning porridge as another option.

Lead Image Source: Gluten-Free Fig Newton Clones