Many of us enjoy figs in jam-form when spread on toast or filled in snack bars, but there’s nothing like eating the fresh fruit. Though not as common as some of its fruity counterparts, fresh figs (currently in-season!) have a sweet, floral flavor that can be just as scrumptious. Plus, new research finds that figs contain a powerful hormone that can improve blood sugar levels in as little as 30 minutes!
A recent study published in the journal Diabetes looked at the blood sugar-lowering effects of fig extract known as ABAlife. Figs are packed with a natural hormone called abscisic acid (ABA), which is responsible for managing the body’s glucose response and reducing inflammation. Researchers compared how varying amounts of the extract did for lowering participants’ blood sugar levels to a glucose solution.
For the first test, participants consumed 50 grams of the glucose solution dissolved in 250 ml water then 200 mg. of fig extract mixed with 250 ml of water. The second test involved them drinking the same amount of glucose solution water before intaking 100 mg. of fig extract in 250 ml of water. The study’s authors found that consuming 100 to 200 mg. of the fig extract was the sweet spot for lowering blood sugar within 30 to 120 minutes. They also hinted that it did a better job at this than the glucose solution. This allowed them to confirm that the ABA from figs is effective for managing blood sugar overall.
Senior director of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council, Kris Sollid, RD, tells Woman’s World that another key aspect of figs is that they’re a great source of dietary fiber, which helps slow digestion. “This reduces the rate that glucose is absorbed. Thus, keeping our blood glucose more stable, which is important in diabetes management,” he explains.
Sollid adds that although there’s no specific daily amount that is recommended to eat, figs are a nutritious food worth adding to your diet. When buying fresh figs, keep in mind they have two seasons. The first (also called “breda”) season runs during the first few weeks of June. The second or “new wood” season lasts from August through October. You can tell figs are ripe when they’re slightly soft to the touch and have no cracks on the skin.
If you can’t find them fresh, you can buy dried figs at the store or online. They come in different types like Great Value Dried Mission Figs (Buy at Walmart, $1.96) and HARVEAST Natural Turkish Whole Dried Smyrna Figs (Buy at Walmart, $14.99). Both brands contain no-added sugars and allow you to eat your favorite type of fig all year round (yum!).
Whether you enjoy them fresh or dried, figs are delicious to slice and eat on their own as a snack. Also, they make for a tasty add-in to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt. So get your fill of figs to keep blood sugar spikes at bay!