9 Unexpected Side Effects Of Figs

While they taste great and have many benefits, you don't want to ignore their potential adverse effects.

Medically reviewed by Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT Jesse Feder Jesse FederRDN, CPT linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition Tanya Choudhary B.Desgn, ISSA Certified Specialist In Fitness & Nutrition linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach Moksha Gandhi BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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Dry fruits and nuts have always been a healthy snack option! Fig or anjeer is one such fruit that is mostly dried along with other nuts and berries. However, given its many health-benefiting properties, it is easy to go overboard with it! That’s when you may come face to face some of the side effects of figs. Yes, there is an appropriate amount of fig that you should have every day to avoid the possible risks. Read on to know more about these possible side effects of figs to help you get the most out of these nutritious fruits!

protip_icon Know The Flip Side: Figs

Short-Term Effects
Bloating, stomach ache, retinal bleeding, lower blood sugar levels, and allergic reactions.

Long-Term Effects
Damage to the liver and intestines and interferes with calcium absorption.

Drug Interactions
Can interfere with blood thinners, insulin, and anti-diabetes drugs.

When To See A Doctor
If you experience retinal bleeding,shortness of breath, skin rashes, nausea, or unexplainable abdominal ache.

Side Effects Of Figs

Here are 9 top figs side effects that you should be aware of before you give in to the temptation of emptying the whole jar of anjeer.

1. Heavy On Stomach

Overeating of figs can be heavy on the stomach and can cause stomach ache. While those suffering from constipation can benefit from it, it might end in a bad stomach for others. Drinking cold water after eating figs helps with stomach-related issues.

2. Bloating

Bloating as a side effect of eating figs
Image: Shutterstock

Apart from stomach ache, figs cause bloating, gas, and digestive discomfort. Figs are rich sources of fiber, and eating too many of them in a short period may lead to bloating (1). Drinking aniseed water helps to cure the problem.

3. Sun Sensitivity

While figs are useful in treating chronic skin diseases and also beneficial in the treatment of skin tumors, they may also harm the skin by increasing its sensitivity to sun rays (2). UV rays are harmful for the skin and can result in conditions like premature aging, melanomai  The most dangerous type of skin cancer that develops in melanin-producing cells, called melanocytes, and has the tendency to grow quickly. and skin cancer (3). It can also result in skin rashes. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun if you consume figs regularly to avoid skin related problems.

4. Harms Liver And Intestines

Figs may harm the liver
Image: Shutterstock

Figs can be harmful for the liver. They can also cause obstruction in the intestines because of their seeds. While it may not seem so while eating, the seeds present in figs are hard enough to get digested easily. This is one of the most dangerous figs side effects that one should be aware of.

5. Calcium Absorption

Avoid taking figs with high oxalic or phytic acid containing foods like beans, seeds, nuts, and dark leafy vegetables like spinach and collard greens. Figs are a rich source of calcium. However, oxalic or phytic acids may interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body. Calcium deficiency may lead to weak bones and other diseases. However, research in this regard is limited. More information is warranted.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Consume foods high in vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mushrooms, and vitamin D-fortified foods with figs to improve calcium absorption.

6. Bleeding

Figs may cause vaginal bleeding
Image: Shutterstock

Figs are warm in nature, and anecdotal evidence suggests that it may cause bleeding. Overeating figs can result in retinal bleeding, rectal bleeding, and slight vaginal bleeding. It can also result in hemolytic anemiai  A blood disorder that involves hemolysis – when red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made. . In case of rectal and vaginal bleeding, stop eating figs and see if the bleeding stops. If not, then check with your doctor.

7. Lowers Blood Sugar Level

Figs may lower blood sugar levels
Image: Shutterstock

Figs help control the blood sugar level in the body (4). This helps those with diabetes but can be harmful for those with low blood sugar levels. If you are suffering from low blood sugar levels, avoid eating figs.

However, in some cases, depending on how many figs you consume, you may also notice a spike in blood sugar levels. Justin Richards, a health-conscious YouTuber, shared his experience eating 90 grams of dried figs that contained 56 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber. After a few hours, he monitored the blood sugar spike on his glucose monitor. He reports, “This went up to 49 mg/dl and that is a significant spike (i).”

8. Allergy

Overconsumption of figs may cause allergies
Image: Shutterstock

If you are allergic to figs, it can cause conjunctivitis, rhinitisi  A reaction that involves a congested, drippy nose or chronic sneezing due to air allergens that trigger the release of histamine. and anaphylactic shocki  A rare and serious allergic reaction that may lead to a sudden blood pressure drop and narrowed airways that obstruct breathing. . It can also cause asthma. Check if you have any allergic problem to figs before consuming them (5).

9. Harmful Oxalates

Oxalates present in figs are harmful to those who are already suffering from kidney or gallbladder problems and diseases. In this case, the consumption of figs can worsen the condition.

If your oxalate levels exceed a certain threshold, it can interact with calcium to produce painful kidney stones that can lodge in the urinary tract. Eating oxalate-rich foods, such as figs, may result in higher oxalate levels. According to a study, the amount of oxalate excreted in the urine increases concurrently with dietary oxalate intake, raising the possibility of kidney stone development. To find out more, see the graph below.

Urinary Oxalate Excretion Of Subjects On Controlled Diets

Source: Dietary oxalate and kidney stone formation

Figs also harm the spleen, which is responsible for producing white blood cells. However, research in this regard is very limited. Consult your doctor for more information.

protip_icon Trivia
Spinach, beets, almonds, and soy products are also high in oxalates and are not recommended to be taken along with figs.

Figs contain a high level of vitamin K, which might interfere with blood thinners. Hence caution is advised with the consumption of figs if you are on any blood-thinning medications.

Even though figs have these side effects, it does not mean that they are completely bad for your health. Check out the next section to learn about the impressive nutritional profile of figs.

Nutrition Value Of Figs

100g of raw fig contains (6):

  • Calories: 74 kcal
  • Protein: 0.75 g
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Carbs: 19.2 g
  • Fiber: 2.6 g
  • Calcium: 35 mg
  • Magnesium: 17 mg
  • Phosphorous: 14 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2 mg
  • Folate: 6 µg
  • Vitamin K: 4.7 µg
  • Beta carotene: 85 µg
  • Vitamin A: 142 IU

This shows that figs are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals and relatively low in caloric content, making them a good addition to any healthy diet. The only thing you need to take care of is to have them in moderation.

So, these are most of the side-effects that can result from overeating of figs. Some anecdotal evidence also claims that overconsumption of figs may cause skin irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and dehydration and weight gain. However, these claims are not quite backed by scientific research. You can avoid most of them if you eat only the required amount without heeding to the demands of your tongue. But if you are suffering from any allergic reactions and low blood sugar levels, then you should avoid figs and consult your doctor to know more about figs benefits and side effects.

Infographic: Common Side Effects Of Figs

Figs are healthy snacks options that one can look for. But one should reconsider eating too many figs because of their adverse effects. While we have listed all adverse effects in the article, there are a few very important negative reactions of figs you must know before eating extra ones. Check out the infographic below to learn about common side effects of figs.

common side effects of figs (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The side effects of figs are mostly associated with their overconsumption. Figs can trigger stomach aches and bloating as they are high in fiber. Figs can also increase sun sensitivity. They also increase the risk of bleeding, lower blood sugar levels way too much, and may negatively affect the liver and intestine. Figs interfere with calcium absorption, too, as they contain oxalates. These oxalates may aggravate kidney and gallbladder problems. Fig allergies may also worsen with their consumption. Hence, caution is advised.

Apart from the side effects, figs are rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, polyphenols, and anthocyanins which help to prevent heart disease, and cancer. So, taking 1-2 fresh/dried figs sometimes in between major meals can be beneficial.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should not eat figs?

Pallini Winnifred, RDN, says, “Individuals who are allergic to figs should avoid eating them. Symptoms of a fig allergy can include itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating figs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.”

Why do vegans avoid figs?

Winnifred adds, “Vegans may avoid figs because they are sometimes pollinated by wasps, which can be considered an animal product. However, this is not a general case, as the majority of figs that are commercially available are self-pollinating, which means that the flowers are pollinated without the help of the wasps, and they are considered vegan.”

What is the best time to eat figs?

Jesse Feder, Clinical Dietitian at the Memorial Regional Hospital opines that mornings are the best time to eat figs. He adds, “This is because they are packed with fiber and healthy nutrients to get your day started. The fiber can help fill you up quicker and keep you full for longer periods of time. This can help control your appetite throughout the day. This is especially useful for those looking to lose weight.”

Can we drink water after eating figs?

According to Winnifred, “It is generally fine to drink water after eating figs. Drinking water can help wash down any bits of food left in the mouth and also help to keep the body hydrated. However, it is always good to consult with a physician or a dietitian to know about the best practices that apply to your specific case.”

Do figs cause diarrhea?

Due to their high fiber content, overconsumption of figs may cause diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

Can figs cause diverticulitis?

No, figs don’t cause diverticulitisi  The development of small, bulging, inflamed pouches in the digestive tract that lead to pain, nausea, fever, and constipation. . The high fiber content may actually prove beneficial for gut health. However, some people prefer to stay away from nuts and fruits containing seeds including figs, apprehending a trigger attack.

Key Takeaways

  • The seeds of the figs are hard to digest, which may obstruct the intestines.
  • Eating too many figs may cause rectal and vaginal bleeding.
  • While figs may be beneficial for people with diabetes, they may cause negative effects in people with low blood sugar levels.
  • The oxalates present in figs may cause further harm to people with kidney issues.
side effects of figs

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

While figs offer important benefits, taking them in excess can cause adverse effects. Hence, moderation is key. Learn more about their side effects from the video below.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. High-fiber foods
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000193.htm
  2. [Phototoxic reaction to figs]
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7107277/
  3. Ultraviolet radiation, aging, and the skin: prevention of damage by topical cAMP manipulation
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3709783/
  4. Abscisic Acid Standardized Fig ( Ficus carica) Extracts Ameliorate Postprandial Glycemic and Insulinemic Responses in Healthy Adults
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31370154/
  5. Identification of Bet v 1-related allergens in fig and other Moraceae fruits
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20447079/
  6. Figs, raw
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173021/nutrients
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Jesse Feder
Jesse FederRDN, CPT
Jesse is a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist with 6 years of experience in training people from all ages, backgrounds, and fitness levels. From athletes, crossfitters, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and bodybuilders to the average person looking to get into shape, Jesse provides nutritional counseling for various needs and health conditions.

Read full bio of Jesse Feder
  • Pallini WinnifredRDN Pallini Winnifred, RDN, serves over 200 clients in the NYC area. She has a bachelor's degree in Nutrition Science from Stony Brook University and two years of experience in nutrition counseling.
    Pallini Winnifred, RDN, serves over 200 clients in the NYC area. She has a bachelor's degree in Nutrition Science from Stony Brook University and two years of experience in nutrition counseling.
Tanya Choudhary
Tanya ChoudharyHealth & Wellness Writer
Tanya is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She specializes in writing articles on ingredients that benefit skin, hair, and health. She believes in the right health and lifestyle practices and strives to promote the same to everyone around her.

Read full bio of Tanya Choudhary
Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Ravi Teja TadimallaSenior Editor
Ravi Teja Tadimalla is a senior editor and a published author. He has been in the digital media field for over eight years. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University.

Read full bio of Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Moksha Gandhi
Moksha GandhiHealth & Wellness Writer
Moksha is a health and wellness writer and a certified diet and nutrition coach. Her passion for science and writing has helped her excel in crafting evidence-based articles. Her previous experience in writing science-based research papers ensures that her articles are grounded in research and provide practical tips that are reader-focused.

Read full bio of Moksha Gandhi
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