Pears are a mild, sweet fruit with a fibrous center. They are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber and pack all of those nutrients in a fat-free, cholesterol-free, 100-calorie package. Consuming pears may help with weight loss and reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, in accordance with an overall healthy diet.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of the pear and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more pears into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming pears.
Nutritional breakdown of pears
Pears are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber.
Eating one medium pear would provide 12% of dailyvitamin C needs, as well as 10% of vitamin K, 6% of potassium and smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and folate.
Pears also contain carotenoids, flavonols and anthocyanins (in red-skinned pears). In the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, pears and apples were found to be among the top contributors of flavonols in the diet.
Possible health benefits of consuming pears
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like pears decreases the risk ofobesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine developed an AI (Adequate Intake) guideline for fiber in 2001, recommending that men under the age of 50 consume 38 grams per day and women under the age of 50 consume 25 grams per day. For adults over 50 years age, the recommendation for men is 30 grams per day and for women is 21 grams per day. Most people are not getting even 50% of their daily recommendation. Why is fiber so important?
The National Institute of Medicine based their recommendation on a review of the findings from several large studies. They found that diets with 14 grams fiber for every 1000 calories were associated with significant reductions in the risk of both coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The easiest way to increase fiber intake is to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Just one medium pear provides 6 grams of fiber, about 24% of the daily need for a woman under 50.
High fiber diets have been shown to decrease the prevalence in flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass. Eating a healthful, fruit and vegetable and fiber-filled diet can reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon.
Although the cause of diverticular disease is still unknown, it has been repeatedly associated with a low fiber diet.2
Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber help to keep you feeling full longer and are also low in calories. Increased fiber intakes have been shown to enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
Cardiovascular disease and cholesterol
Increased fiber intakes have also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A review of 67 separate controlled trials found that even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL and total cholesterol.
Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may even play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
A high fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes and keeps blood sugar stable.
The fiber content in pears prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Regular, adequate bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion toxins through the bile and stool. Pears are approximately 84% water, which help to keep stools soft and flush the digestive system of toxins.
How to incorporate more pears into your diet
Pears taste great poached with cinnamon and anise.
Pears do not ripen while on the tree. For best flavor, allow pears to ripen in a warm, sunny area for several days or until the neck of the pear yields to pressure. Refrigeration stops the ripening process.
Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:
Fruits like apples and pears that contain a higher amount of fructose compared with glucose are considered a high FODMAP food. A diet high in FODMAPs may increase gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea in people suffering from irritable bowel disorders.
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols, all forms of fermentable short-chain carbohydrates. A diet low in these types of carbohydrates has been shown to decrease common symptoms for people who are FODMAPs sensitive.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.