11 Surprising Benefits of Pears

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Pears are fruits savored for their delicious flavor since ancient times. Widely used worldwide, the health benefits of pears include their ability to aid in weight loss, improve digestion, boost heart health, and help regulate blood pressure. Pears are thought to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation and may aid in the skin, eye, and hair care.

What are Pears?

Pears are delicious and sweet pomaceous fruits with juicy flesh. The term “pear” actually describes a number of trees and bushes in the genus Pyrus, of the larger family Rosaceae. There is a wide variety of pear trees but only a few of them bear edible fruits that can be consumed by humans; a number of pear varieties are only used as decorative trees and shrubs.

The fruit is the upper end of the flower stalk and is typically narrow at the top (stem) and wider at the bottom. However, this is not the way to ultimately determine a “pear” variety. Some pears are shaped just like apples! The appearance of the flesh inside the skin is also similar to apples, although it is a slightly grittier in consistency, due to the presence of stone cells. This is one of the most obvious differences between the two fruits, apart from the taste.

Pears are thought to have originated in China and are native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Pears have been a part of many diets for thousands of years, and have been found in Celtic literature, Roman history, and Chinese lore. They can grow easily in places with temperate, cool climates that make them very versatile and easy to cultivate.

Nutritional Value of Pears

Modern science now reveals to us that the health possibilities may be due to the mineral, vitamin, and organic compound content of pear species. Some of these active and effective components include potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, phenolic compounds, folate, dietary fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, as well as B-complex vitamins, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Health Benefits of Pears

Apart from being a tasty addition to virtually any diet, pears are also packed with many nutrients, as mentioned above. Let us look at the benefits in detail;

Optimize Digestion

A study published in Nutrition Today led by Dr. Joanne Slavin, who is a professor at the University of Minnesota, concludes that fruits like pears are extremely great sources of dietary fiber.

While a single serving of pears provides 18% of the daily requirement for fiber intake, they can be a very strong agent for improving digestive health too. Most of the fiber in pears is a non-soluble polysaccharide (NSP), which means that it acts as a bulking agent in the intestines. This fiber accumulates the food and adds bulk so it is easier for the food to pass through the intestines. Furthermore, it stimulates the secretions of gastric and digestive juices. It also regulates bowel movements and reduces the chances of constipation, as well as diarrhea and loose stool. Also, the gritty nature of pear fiber helps it bind to cancer-causing agents and free radicals in the colon and protect the organ from their damaging effects.

A sack of fresh green pears on a wooden table

Weight Loss

Excess consumption of fruit–or certain fruits high in sugar–can be of concern for those watching calories. Pears are one of the lowest-calorie fruits, with a medium pear containing just over 100 calories, which is about 5 to 10 percent of most healthy calorie restricted diets. Despite the low calories, the nutrition content is immense, and the fiber makes you feel full, according to a study published in the journal, Appetite. Therefore, people trying to lose weight often turn to pears to get the most bang for their buck.

Antioxidant Activity

Like many other fruits, pears are a wealth of antioxidants like vitamin C that combat various diseases and conditions within the body. Antioxidants work to eliminate the free radicals that accumulate in the body following cellular metabolismA 2003 research study on the antioxidant activity of pear has revealed that pear fruits contain a remarkable amount of vitamin C and chlorogenic acid. Antioxidant components of vitamin C, vitamin A, and flavonoid compounds like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which are found in pears, can help rid the body of free radicals.

Anticancer Potential

Antioxidants are often praised for their anti-carcinogenic activities; pears, being a houseful of antioxidants, have been connected to the prevention of cancer. Some researchers found that the intake of pears as part of the larger product food grouping was inversely linked to the risk of lung cancer in men. Another study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that fruits like pears may contribute to helping lower lung cancer risk.

However, more scientific studies and research is required to support the anti-cancer benefits.

Boost Immunity

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a comprehensive study suggesting the benefits of vitamin C above the recommended daily intake for health benefits like boosting immunity. Pears are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C are beneficial for stimulating white blood cell production. They have also been known to boost the immune system, which helps to eliminate conditions like the common cold, flu, and other mild illnesses.

Nutrition Facts

Pears, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]83.96
Energy [kcal]57
Protein [g]0.36
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.14
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]15.23
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.1
Sugars, total [g]9.75
Calcium, Ca [mg]9
Iron, Fe [mg]0.18
Magnesium, Mg [mg]7
Phosphorus, P [mg]12
Potassium, K [mg]116
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.1
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]4.3
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.16
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.03
Folate, DFE [µg]7
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]1
Vitamin A, IU [IU]25
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.12
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]4.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.08
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Improve Heart Health

Dr. Susanna Larsson from the National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Sweden, has published research indicating the inverse relationship between stroke risk and fruit and vegetable intake.

Pears are one of these fruits and are also a wonderful source of potassium. High in potassium, they can have a significant impact on heart health because potassium is a well-known vasodilator (lowering blood pressure). It increases blood flow to all parts of the body, which oxygenates the organs and promotes their effective function.

Lower blood pressure is also associated with a lower chance of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Potassium also works as a fluid regulator in the body, meaning that it keeps the body hydrated, and ensures the balance of essential fluids in the cells and organs. Without potassium, many of our essential functions would be either slowed down or stopped altogether.

Speeds Healing

Vitamin C is also an essential part of synthesizing new tissue in various organs and cellular structures of the body. Wound healing is accelerated up with high levels of ascorbic acid, which pears provide.

Improves Circulation

For patients suffering from anemia or other mineral deficiencies, pears can be very helpful, due to a high content of copper and iron in them. Copper facilitates and improves the uptake of other minerals into the system, and increased levels of iron allow red blood cell synthesis to increases. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, and anemia is another name for iron deficiency. You can prevent fatigue, cognitive malfunction, muscle weakness, and organ system malfunction by consuming adequate amounts of foods high in iron and copper.

Prevent Birth Defects

Folates are other valuable nutritional components of pears. Folic acid has been positively correlated with a reduction in neural tube defects in newborns. So eating folate-rich fruits like pears can protect health, a major reason why pregnant women are encouraged to monitor their folic acid levels.

Reduce Inflammation

The antioxidant and flavonoid components of produce, including pears, can induce anti-inflammatory effects in the body, reducing the pain and swelling associated with inflammation. This includes the reduction in symptoms of arthritis, rheumatic conditions, gout, and similar conditions.

Improve Bone Health

The high mineral content of pears includes magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, and copper. These nutrients, as part of a balanced diet, can help aid in reducing bone mineral loss and debilitating conditions, such as osteoporosis.

Skin & Hair Care

One of the most versatile vitamins in the human body is vitamin A. Pears contain good amounts of vitamin A and its subsequent components, like lutein and zeaxanthin. By acting as antioxidants, and also by participating in a number of enzymatic reactions and organ functions pears–along with other vitamin A containing foods–can reduce the effects of aging on the skin like wrinkles and age spots. These powerful nutrients can also reduce the chances of hair loss, macular degeneration, cataracts, and various other conditions associated with the aging process.

Word of Caution: There are no known interactions or health risks with pears. However, if you have an allergy to pears or other fruits, be mindful before enjoying them.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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