California dried figs are a plant-based fiber superstar with a unique set of qualities that have earned them a high ranking in WFPB (whole food plant based) eating and plant-based pantries, including my own. This plump teardrop of a fruit houses a rich array of essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals benefits that contribute to optimal health, especially if you’re eating a plant-based diet, from a more flexitarian approach to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Dried Figs are also absolutely delicious, with their sunshine-kissed taste, chewy texture, and crunchy bite. To complete the package, California dried figs are super easy to incorporate into every plant-based eating style—hello, porridge bowls, baked goods, savory veggie loaves, and even condiments!
The story on figs’ plant-based history starts with their lineage as a member of the mulberry family, part of the Ficus species. Like so many wonderful plant foods, figs are native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East; in fact, fig trees are famously referenced in the Bible and other ancient writings, having prominent roles in major religions, from Buddhism to Hinduism. In California, my sunny home state, I’ve got figs growing in my backyard, where many varieties of figs flourish, including the most common amber-colored Goldens and the dark purple Mission. It’s no surprise that sunny California produces 100% of the nation’s dried figs! Because they’re harvested fully ripened and partially dried on the tree, dried figs travel well so that we can all enjoy them year-round in plant-based cuisine.
Nutrient Powerhouse for WFPB Eating and More
Packed with nutrients and great taste, Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Dried Figs truly are a terrific total package. They bring so much to plant-based eating. One 40-gram serving (about 4 dried figs, depending on the size) delivers a boost of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin K, essential minerals, including calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium, and health-promoting phytochemicals benefits. This precious fruit offers a quick, no-fuss way to help you reach your dietary needs, promote good health and reduce risks of chronic disease within your healthy plant-based lifestyle. Let’s take a look at a few of the key nutrition players:
Plant Based Fiber in Figs
Dietary fiber is that nutrient we can all stand to boost. Those of us following a plant-based eating style have the advantage of choosing from so many fiber-rich whole foods, like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, but some pack a bigger plant based fiber punch than others. California dried figs are a high source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. A high fiber diet is associated with reduced risks of heart disease, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber also plays an important role in gut health and digestion, including boosting gut microbiome, improving regularity, and helping prevent constipation and risk of diverticulosis. Just 4 California dried figs have 14% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for dietary fiber! Not only are they ideal to keep on hand when you’re on the go, at your desk, or post-workout, dried figs pair with both sweet and savory dishes, so they’re a snap to half or chop as a topping on everything from a green or fruit salad to roasted Brussels sprouts.
Calcium in Figs
Calcium is another nutrient where many of us miss the mark. And it can be even tougher to get enough if you’re eating an exclusively WFPB diet. This mineral is essential for building healthy bones—without it, we increase the risk of osteoporosis, which becomes more of a concern with age, as it’s the primary cause of hip fractures. It’s best to get calcium from mostly foods, so figs are an excellent source to keep you on that path. Dried figs contain vitamin K (8% DV per serving), which also aids in bone health. A single serving of dried figs has 65 milligrams of calcium, which can help you fit in more plant-based calcium into your diet. Pair them with other calcium-rich plant foods, such as nuts and seeds, leafy greens, beans, peas, and tofu to boost your intake even further. Jazz up stir-fried broccoli and tofu with a handful of dried figs, toss them along with slivered almonds into your next cabbage slaw, or embellish your almond yogurt parfait with a mix of dried fruit, including dried figs, and nuts.
Potassium in Figs
Potassium is one of dried figs’ best all-around nutrition players. Important for its many roles in the body, including building muscle, bone strength, managing blood pressure, and supporting kidney function, this amazing mineral benefits you in so many ways. Adequate potassium in the diet may also reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. A serving of California dried figs serves up 6% of the DV of potassium. As part of a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, and grains, California dried figs more than hold their own. Try adding California dried figs to other delicious potassium-rich foods in your next morning porridge bowl—combine whole grain oats and plant-based yogurt in a bowl and top with dried figs, sliced bananas, and almonds. Or go with a savory bowl of black beans and sautéed spinach topped with avocado, tomato, and dried figs.
Phytochemicals Benefits in Figs
Phytochemicals are prolific in California dried figs, including several well-researched antioxidants, such as rutin, quercetin, and epicatechin, which have been linked to many health benefits, like reduced risk of several diseases. Plant-based diets based on mostly whole plant foods are rich in phytochemicals, and dried figs are one of those go-to ingredients that kick up the levels of these powerhouses in any meal or snack, sweet or savory. A great way is to incorporate them in baked goods and treats in place of sugary chocolate chips for a different twist. California dried figs are stunning in tarts and galettes and if you haven’t enjoyed a fig bar since childhood, now’s the time!