Objective: The goal of this work is to determine the amount and quality of phenol antioxidants in dried fruits and compare them with the corresponding fresh fruits; to compare the nutrients in fresh and dried fruits; to determine if figs are a source of in vivo antioxidants when eaten.
Methods: Commercial samples of dried fruits and fresh fruits were compared in the in vitro studies using a colorimetric method to measure phenolic antioxidants. The quality of the antioxidants was measured by inhibition of lower density lipoprotein oxidation. Ten normal free-living subjects were tested in the human study. Fasting subjects were given 40 g of figs with or without a carbonated beverage and the plasma antioxidant capacity was measured for six hours using the trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity assay.
Results: Dates have the highest concentration of polyphenols among the dried fruits. Figs and dried plums have the best nutrient score among the dried fruits, and dates among the fresh fruits. Processing to produce the dried fruit significantly decreases the phenols in the fruits on a dry weight basis. Compared with vitamins C and E, dried fruits have superior quality antioxidants with figs and dried plums being the best. Fig antioxidants can enrich lipoproteins in plasma and protect them from subsequent oxidation. Figs produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity for 4 hours after consumption, and overcome the oxidative stress of consuming high fructose corn syrup in a carbonated soft drink.
Conclusion: Dried fruits and especially figs, are a convenient and superior source of some nutrients, but in the American diet amount to less than 1% of total fruit consumed. Figs are in vivo antioxidants after human consumption. The findings suggest that dried fruits should be a greater part of the diet as they are dense in phenol antioxidants and nutrients, most notably fiber.