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Are Dried Figs as Healthy as Fresh?

By Sylvie Tremblay

The combination of subtly sweet, tender flesh and the slight crunch of seed make figs a decadent treat, as well as a healthful addition to your diet. Fresh figs have a more delicate texture than their chewier dried counterparts, but they have a short shelf life of just a few days, according to a study published in "Postharvest Biology and Technology" in 2013. As a result, dried figs are more convenient for regular consumption, and fresh figs work well as an occasional treat. Both versions offer lots of nutritional value, though fresh figs contain slightly more nutrients than dried.

Calories, Fiber and Vitamin K

A 1/2-cup serving of dried figs contains 186 calories -- about the same as a serving of six small fresh figs, which provide 178 calories. Fresh and dried figs both offer ample amounts of fiber, at roughly 7 grams per serving. This makes up approximately 18 percent of the daily fiber needs for men and 28 percent for women. A serving of either fresh or dried figs also contains approximately 11.5 micrograms of vitamin K -- 13 percent and 9 percent of the daily vitamin K needs for women and men, respectively. Both nutrients support good health: Fiber prevents constipation, while vitamin K helps with blood clotting.

Vitamin A Content

Opt for fresh figs over the dried version as a source of vitamin A. Each serving of fresh figs contains 341 international units of vitamin A -- 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 11 percent for men -- while a serving of dried figs provides just 7 international units. Getting enough vitamin A in your diet helps you see properly, especially at night, and also maintains the strength of your immune system. It also affects other aspects of your health, including red blood cell growth and new tissue development.

B-Complex Vitamin Content

Fresh figs also offer more B-complex vitamins than dried figs. Your body uses these vitamins for energy production and also relies on them to help maintain healthy red blood cells and nerves. Figs lose B-complex vitamins during the drying process, so dried figs offer less of these vitamins than fresh figs. For example, a serving of fresh figs contains 720 micrograms of vitamin B-5 -- 14 percent of your daily needs -- while a serving of dried figs has just 323 micrograms. Fresh figs also contain more vitamin B-1 per serving: 144 micrograms, compared to dried figs' 63 micrograms.

Serving Tips and Suggestions

Fresh figs' delicate texture means they're best served at home. Combine fresh fig slices with baby kale, caramelized shallots and pepitas for a nutritious salad that's also bursting with flavor. Fresh figs also make for a decadent addition to porridge -- cook a mixture of rolled oats, flaxseeds and wheatgerm until it reaches the desired texture, add fresh sliced figs to the top of each bowl and garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup. Dried figs are hardier, so you can pack them for lunches and snacks on the go. Get more creative by combining chopped dried figs, dates, raw almonds, protein powder and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Shape the resulting mixture into squares and sprinkle with cacao for a nutrient-packed, all-natural protein bar.

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