No, Fig Newtons are not sugar free. While Fig Newtons do contain some natural sugars from figs, they also contain added sugars like high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar. A serving of 2 Fig Newtons contains about 14g of total sugars.
Nutrition Facts for Fig Newtons
Here are the nutrition facts for a serving size of 2 Fig Newtons (36g):
|Includes 13g Added Sugars||25% DV|
As you can see from the nutrition label, a 2-cookie serving of Fig Newtons contains 14g total sugars, which includes 13g of added sugars. This represents 25% of the daily value for added sugars based on a 2000 calorie diet.
While Fig Newtons do contain some natural sugar from fig paste, they also contain added sugars like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or cane sugar, depending on the variety. So they cannot be considered sugar free.
Ingredients in Fig Newtons
Here are some of the main ingredients found in most Fig Newton varieties:
– Enriched flour – Provides structure and texture
– Fig paste – Made from compressed figs, contributes natural sugars
– High fructose corn syrup or cane sugar – Adds sweetness
– Vegetable oils – Added fat for texture
– Leavening agents like baking soda
So while the fig paste adds some natural fruit sugars, the main sources of added sugars are high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar, depending on the Fig Newton variety.
High fructose corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is added to many processed foods as a sweetener. It is made from corn starch that has been processed to convert some of its glucose into fructose. HFCS contains roughly equal amounts of glucose and fructose.
HFCS is very sweet and also helps retain moisture in baked goods like Fig Newtons. But it provides empty calories and added sugars with very little nutritional value. HFCS in Fig Newtons would count as added sugars, not naturally occurring ones.
Some varieties of Fig Newtons use cane sugar instead of HFCS as an added sweetener. While cane sugar comes from a natural source (sugarcane), it is still considered an added sugar when used in processed foods.
Just like HFCS, the cane sugar in Fig Newtons contributes extra calories and sweetness with minimal nutritional benefit. So Fig Newtons made with cane sugar cannot be considered sugar free either.
Are There Any Sugar Free Fig Newton Options?
Currently there are no national brands of Fig Newtons that are sugar free. All mainstream Fig Newton products contain added sugars in the form of HFCS, cane sugar, corn syrup, etc.
However, there may be some smaller specialty brands that offer sugar free fig cookies or baked goods. These would likely use sugar substitutes like:
But when it comes to the major national Fig Newton brands like Nabisco and Keebler, none of them offer a sugar free variety at this time.
Natural Sugar Content in Figs
Fresh figs themselves contain natural sugars in the form of glucose and fructose.
In a 100 gram serving, here is the sugar breakdown for raw figs:
So while fresh figs do contain natural sugars, these are not nearly as concentrated or as problematic as added sugars in processed foods.
The fig paste used in Fig Newtons is made by compressing and concentrating fresh figs into a thick syrup. This process likely concentrates the natural sugars even more.
However, the quantity of added sweeteners like HFCS and cane sugar outweigh the natural sugar content from fig paste in Fig Newton cookies.
Are Figs Themselves Considered Healthy?
Despite their naturally occurring sugars, fresh figs themselves are considered a healthy food.
Some potential benefits of fresh figs include:
– High in fiber – Providing nearly 5g per 100g serving
– Contain antioxidants like polyphenols
– May help lower blood pressure and cholesterol
– Anti-inflammatory effects
– Good source of potassium, manganese, and B vitamins
– May help with constipation relief
So while figs do contain natural sugars, the fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants they provide have linked them to potential health benefits.
Of course the quantity of fig paste in a heavily processed Fig Newton cookie is modest compared to eating whole, fresh figs.
Are Dried Figs Healthy?
Dried figs preserve many of the nutrients and fiber found in fresh figs. However, the dehydration process concentrates the natural sugars, resulting in a higher sugar content.
Here is the sugar breakdown for a 100 gram serving of dried, uncooked figs:
As you can see, the natural sugar content triples when figs are dried compared to fresh.
So while dried figs can be a quick, convenient source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, their sugar content is very concentrated.
Eating them in moderation is advised, especially for those with diabetes or weight management goals.
Health Impact of Added Sugars
While fruits and dried fruits contain natural sugars, added sugars in processed foods are more concerning for health.
Some potential risks and effects of excessive added sugar intake include:
– Weight gain – Added sugars provide extra calories with little nutrition. This can lead to obesity over time.
– Diabetes – Spikes in blood sugars from high added sugar intake increase diabetes risk.
– Heart disease – High blood sugar and weight gain increases risk factors.
– Fatty liver disease – Added sugars contribute to fat deposits in the liver.
– Inflammation – Can trigger inflammatory response pathways.
– High triglycerides and cholesterol
– Cavities and dental issues
– Nutrient displacement – Excess empty calories from added sugars can displace healthier foods.
– Addiction – Sugary foods stimulate the reward centers in the brain.
So while the natural sugars in fig paste provide trace nutrients and fiber, the added sugars in Fig Newtons provide empty calories and potential health risks if consumed in excess.
Are Fig Newtons Vegan?
Most major brands of Fig Newtons like Nabisco and Keebler are vegan friendly. Here are some of the key factors that make Fig Newtons suitable for vegans:
– Do not contain any dairy or animal derived ingredients
– Use vegetable oils instead of butter or other animal fats
– Typically do not contain any animal-derived additives or processing aids
– No confectioner’s glaze from insects
However, it’s still important to check labels, as some specialty flavors may potentially contain hidden animal ingredients like honey. But original and basic fig flavors are typically vegan.
The main animal ingredient that sometimes shows up in fig cookies is confectioner’s glaze. This is a shiny coating used to provide a glossy finish. Confectioner’s glaze is made from shellac resin derived from the Kerria Lacca insect.
But fortunately, this ingredient does not seem to be used in any major national brands of Fig Newtons. Nabisco’s website confirms their Fig Newtons are vegan friendly.
Why Vegan Diets Can Be Lower in Sugars
Vegan diets on average tend to be lower in added sugars for several reasons:
– Avoidance of sweetened dairy products
– Less consumption of processed meats with added sugars
– Tendency to eat more whole, plant foods
– Use of unsweetened plant milks and yogurts
However, vegans can still benefit from checking labels and minimizing consumption of packaged snacks and baked goods with added sugars.
Glycemic Index and Figs
The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a food raises blood sugar levels on a scale of 0-100.
Foods are classified as:
– Low GI (55 or below)
– Moderate GI (56-69)
– High GI (70 or above)
The glycemic index for figs is:
– Fresh figs: Low GI (GI of 15)
– Dried figs: High GI (GI of 61)
Since drying concentrates the natural sugars, this process raises the GI into the high category.
For Fig Newtons, the GI can vary based on factors like:
– Added sugars content
– Amount of fig paste
– Preparation method
– Presence of fats or acids that slow digestion
But most Fig Newton varieties would be expected to have a high GI of 70 or more due to the refined flour and high added sugars content.
So fresh figs have a low impact on blood sugar, while Fig Newtons likely cause more dramatic spikes.
Glycemic load accounts for the total quantity of carbohydrates consumed. It is calculated by multiplying the GI by the grams of carbohydrate per serving.
Glycemic load estimates the actual impact of a food on blood sugar levels.
So a food can have a high GI, but if the total carbohydrate content is low, then the glycemic load may still be within the low or moderate range.
A serving of Fig Newtons has about 28g total carbs. Assuming a GI of 75, this would give a glycemic load of 21 (75 x 28 / 100 = 21).
Values under 10 are considered low, while 11-19 is moderate. So Fig Newtons fall into the moderate glycemic load category.
This means they will cause some increase in blood glucose and insulin compared to low GL foods like non-starchy vegetables and legumes. But they are unlikely to spike blood sugar dramatically in healthy people.
Those with diabetes or insulin resistance may experience higher blood sugar impacts from Fig Newtons due to their high added sugar content.
Fig Newtons and Weight Loss
Can you eat Fig Newtons on a weight loss diet? Fig Newtons could fit into a weight management plan in moderation and when accounting for total calorie needs. Some tips:
– Stick to a single serving size of 2 cookies to control calories
– Account for the 140 calories per serving when planning daily intake
– Balance them with high fiber, nutrient-dense foods for meals
– Avoid eating them if famished, as overeating is more likely
– Substitute with a whole fresh or dried fig for more fiber and nutrients
– Combine with protein, fat, or fiber to help slow digestion
– Stay hydrated to minimize blood sugar spikes
Additionally, here are some lower calorie, high protein vegan-friendly alternatives:
– Fresh figs (37 calories each)
– Dried figs (about 50 calories each)
– Vegan yogurt (80-100 calories per cup)
– Vegan protein bar (180-200 calories)
– Fruit and nut bars (~150 calories)
– Apple with peanut butter (around 150 calories)
– Guacamole with vegetable sticks
So an occasional Fig Newton can fit into a weight loss plan, but should be accounted for and balanced with lower calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Portion control and moderation is key.
In summary, Fig Newtons are not sugar free. All major brands of Fig Newtons contain added sugars in the form of high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, or corn syrup. The average 2-cookie serving provides 14g total sugars and 25% of the daily value for added sugars.
While Fig Newtons do contain some natural sugar from fig paste, the quantity of added sweeteners outweighs any natural sugars. So Fig Newtons cannot be considered a low sugar or sugar free food.
Consumers looking for a sugar free fig cookie would need to find a specialty product made with non-nutritive sweeteners instead of added sugars. But mainstream Fig Newton varieties are higher in added sugars, so portion control and moderation is advised, especially for those limiting sugar intake.