A pear is a mild, sweet fruit with a fibrous center. They are rich in essential antioxidants, plant compounds, and dietary fiber. Pears pack all of these nutrients in a fat free, cholesterol free fruit that is around 100 calories.

As part of a balanced, nutritious diet, consuming pears could support weight loss and reduce a person’s risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

This article provides a nutritional breakdown of the pear and an in-depth look at its possible benefits. It also gives tips on incorporating more pears into the diet and lists some potential health risks of consuming them.

There are over 3,000 types of pears worldwide. They vary in size, shape, sweetness, and crispness.

Some of the more common types of this fruit in the United States include:

  • Green Anjou
  • Red Anjou
  • Bartlett
  • Red Bartlett
  • Bosc
  • Comice
  • Forelle
  • Concorde
  • Seckel
  • Starkrimson

People who wish to add pears to their diet should ask a local grocer about the best type for their tastes.

One medium pear weighing around 178 grams (g) contains:

  • 101 calories
  • 0.285 g of fat
  • 26.9 g of carbohydrate, including 17.2 g of sugar and 5.52 g of fiber
  • 0.676 g of protein

Pears also provide essential vitamins and minerals, including:

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 act as antioxidants.

Pears vs. apples

Nutritionists say that 100 g of a skin-on gala apple contains:

  • 55 calories
  • 0.15 g of fat
  • 14.8 g of carbohydrates, including 11.8 g of sugar and 2.1 g of fiber
  • 0.13 g of protein

Apples are mainly high in potassium. They also contain quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid, and anthocyanin, plant compounds that provide additional health benefits.

Consuming all types of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of several health conditions, and pears are no exception.

They provide a significant amount of fiber and other essential nutrients and can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain gut conditions.

In the sections below, we look at the specific health benefits of pears.

Providing fiber

The Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed dietary guidelines that include recommendations for daily nutritional goals.

They recommend that males between the ages of 14 and 50 years consume 30.8 to 33.6 g of dietary fiber per day, depending on age. For females between ages 14 and 50 years, 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 5.5 g of fiber, which is roughly 22% of the daily recommended intake for females under the age of 50 years.

Pears also contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which nourishes gut bacteria and improves gut health.

In fact, the USDA suggests 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.

Improved fullness after meals can support weight loss, as a person will feel less of an urge to snack between meals. A 2015 study found a link between increased fiber intake and improved weight loss for people with obesity.

Also, a 2020 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.

Treating diverticulosis

Diverticulitis occurs when bulging sacs in the lining of the large intestine, called diverticulosis, develop infection and inflammation.

A 2020 review suggested that a high fiber intake of at least 30 g per day can reduce the risk of diverticular disease. However, further research is necessary on the effects of different sources of fiber and diverticulosis risk.

It is also not clear how fiber reduces the risk of diverticulosis, so more studies in this area are 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.

Encouraging detoxification

Regular, adequate bowel movements are crucial for the daily removal of toxins through bile and stools.

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

Pears contain high levels of antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and copper. These chemicals counter the effects of free radicals, protecting cells from the damage they can cause.

Free radicals develop when the body converts food to energy, and they can contribute to cancer growth.

Pears do not ripen on the tree. For the best flavor, many people 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.

Healthy recipes

Try some of these nutritious and delicious recipes that dietitians have developed:

Pears are also suitable for blending into juices and smoothies, and people can eat them raw.

Many fruits, including pears, contain a higher amount of fructose than glucose, making them a high FODMAP food.

FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols,” which 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 individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For this reason, people with IBS should speak with a dietitian before including pears in the diet.

A person’s overall eating pattern is the most important dietary factor in preventing disease 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.

Q:

Are pears better for a person’s health than apples?

A:

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.