A pear is a mild, sweet fruit with a fibrous center. Pears are rich in essential antioxidants, plant compounds, and dietary fiber. They pack all of these nutrients in a fat free, cholesterol free, 100 calorie package.
In this article, we provide a nutritional breakdown of the pear and an in-depth look at its possible benefits. We also give tips on how to incorporate more pears into the diet and list some potential health risks of consuming them.
This feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.
Consuming all types of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of several health conditions. Pears are no exception.
They provide a significant amount of fiber and other essential nutrients, and they can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain gut conditions.
In the sections below, we look at the specific health benefits that pears may provide.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion have developed an Adequate Intake (AI) guideline for fiber.
They recommend that males under the age of 50 consume 30.8 to 33.6 grams (g) per day, depending on age. For females under the age of 50, the recommended intake is 25.2 to 28 g per day, depending on age.
For adults over the age of 50, the recommendation is 28 g per day for males and 22.4 g per day for females.
Increasing fruit and vegetable intake is a fairly easy way to boost fiber intake. For example, just one medium sized pear provides 6 g of fiber, which is about 24% of the daily AI for females under the age of 50.
Pears contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which nourishes gut bacteria and improves gut health.
In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggest that sufficient fiber intake promotes healthy bowel function and can increase feelings of fullness after a meal. It may also lower a person’s risk of heart disease and reduce their total cholesterol levels.
Enhanced fullness after meals can support weight loss, as a person will feel less of an urge to snack between meals. In fact, one 2015 study associated increased fiber intake with enhanced weight loss for people with obesity.
Also, a 2013 review of studies in humans found that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation. It might also decrease the risk of inflammation-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Diverticulitis occurs when bulging sacs in the lining of the large intestine, called diverticulosis, develop infection and inflammation.
A 2014 prospective study of 690,075 women in the United Kingdom suggested that fiber intake can reduce the risk of diverticulosis. However, the study authors clarify that different sources of fiber had different effects on diverticulosis risk.
However, an earlier study from 2012 found that fiber intake had no effect against existing diverticulosis that did not cause symptoms.
It is also not clear through which mechanism fiber reduces diverticulosis risk. More research in this area is necessary.
Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
A 2019 study on pears suggested that people with metabolic syndrome who ate two pears per day for 12 weeks saw a modest decrease in systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Regular, adequate bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins in the bile and stool.
Pears have high water content. This helps keep stools soft and flushes the digestive system of toxins.
A 2015 systematic review of the health benefits of pears suggested that their laxative effect comes from their high fiber and fructose content. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar that occurs in most fruits.
Fighting free radicals
Free radicals develop when the body converts food to energy and can contribute to cancer growth.
According to the USDA FoodData Central database, one medium pear weighing around 178 g contains:
- 101 calories
- 0.249 g of fat
- 27.1 g of carbohydrate, including 17.4 g of sugar and 5.52 g of fiber
- 1 g of protein
Pears also provide essential vitamins and minerals, including:
- vitamin C
- vitamin K
They also provide smaller amounts of:
Pears, especially those with red skin, also contain carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. These are plant compounds that offer several health benefits and also act as antioxidants.
In fact, in 2011, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging found that pears were among the top contributors of flavonoids in the diet.
There are over 3,000 types of pear around the world. They vary in size, shape, sweetness, and crispness.
Some of the more common types of pear in the United States include:
- Green Anjou
- Red Anjou
- Red Bartlett
People who want to start including pears in their diet should ask a local greengrocer about the best type of pear for their taste.
Pears do not ripen while on the tree. For the 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 healthful and delicious recipes that registered dietitians have developed:
Pears also work very well in juices and smoothies. People can also eat them raw.
Many fruits, including pears, contain a higher amount of fructose than glucose. This makes them a high FODMAP food.
FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.” These are all forms of fermentable short-chain carbohydrates. A diet low in these types of carbohydrates can decrease common digestive symptoms for FODMAP-sensitive people.
For example, a diet high in FODMAPs may increase gas, bloating, pain, and diarrhea in some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For this reason, people with IBS should speak with a dietitian before including pear in the diet.
A person’s overall eating pattern is the most important dietary factor in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods.
That said, pears can have a powerful impact as part of a balanced diet.
Are pears better for a person’s health than apples?
Pears are not better than apples. They have similar health benefits, though we know much more about how apples impact health than pears. In fact, research into the health benefits of pears is ongoing.
Both apples and pears contain pectin, a fiber that nourishes gut bacteria. Studies suggest that apples improve cholesterol, positively affect weight management, and improve cardiovascular function and inflammation.
Although apples are better-researched than pears, it is best to eat both, as a varied diet is key to overall health.Natalie Butler, RD, LD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.