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.
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.
Possible health benefits of consuming pears
Pears are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber.
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 of obesity, 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.
On the next page we look at the nutritional breakdown of pears, how to incorporate more pears into your diet and the possible health risks of consuming pears.