This Medical News Today 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.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of a range of 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 a lower weight.
Pears are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine has developed an Adequate Intake (AI) guideline for fiber.
They recommend 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, the recommendation for men is 30 grams per day and 21 grams per day for women.
Many people in America do not get even 50 percent of their daily recommended amount.
The National Institute of Medicine based its recommendation on a review of the findings from several large studies. They found that diets with 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 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 the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Just one medium-sized pear provides 6 grams of fiber, about 24 percent of the daily need for a woman under 50.
Diverticulitis is when bulging sacs in the lining of the large intestine become infected or inflamed. High fiber diets are thought to decrease the frequency of flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass. Eating a healthful diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables, and fiber can reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon.
Although the exact cause of diverticular disease is still unknown, it has repeatedly been associated with a low fiber diet.
Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber help keep you feeling fuller for longer and are also low in calories. Increased fiber intake has been associated with enhanced weight loss for obese individuals.
Cardiovascular disease and cholesterol
Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels. A review of 67 separate controlled trials found that even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol) and total cholesterol.
Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may even play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, and may have the potential to decrease 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 more stable blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
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 of toxins through the bile and stool. Pears are approximately 84 percent water, which helps keep stools soft and flush the digestive system of toxins.
Fighting free radicals
There are over 3,000 types of pear across the world. They vary by size, shape, sweetness, and crispness.
Some of the more common types of pear in the United States include:
- Green Anjou
- Red Anjou
- Red Bartlett
If you want to start including pears in your diet, why not ask your local greengrocer what type of pear is best for your taste?
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one medium pear weighing approximately 178 grams (g) contains:
- 101 calories
- 0 g of fat
- 27 g of carbohydrate, including 17 g of sugar and 6 g
- 1 g of protein
Eating one medium pear provides 12 percent of daily vitamin C needs, as well as 10 percent of vitamin K, 6 percent of potassium and smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and folate.
Pears, especially those with red skin, also contain carotenoids, flavonols, and anthocyanins. In the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, pears and apples were found to be among the top contributors of flavonols in the diet.
Pears taste great poached with cinnamon and anise.
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 healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dieticians:
Fruits, like apples and pears, contain a higher amount of fructose compared with glucose. They are considered a high FODMAP food. A diet high in FODMAPs may increase gas, bloating, pain, and diarrhea in some people with irritable bowel disorders.
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 has been shown to decrease common symptoms for people who are FODMAP 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 variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.