Pears are valuable fruits that have been widely used around the world and savored for their delicious flavor since ancient times. The health benefits of pears include their ability to aid in weight loss, improve digestion and heart health, regulate the body’s fluid levels, and reduce blood pressure. They also increase the cognitive ability, prevent cancer, and promote wound healing and tissue repair. Pears help to defend against birth defects, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation. They increase the metabolism, improve circulation, protect against osteoporosis and aid in 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 are a wide variety of pear trees and 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 originated in China and are native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia, and there is an evidence of them being consumed since prehistoric times. 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
Besides their availability and flavor, pears have also been valued for their medicinal benefits for thousands of years. Modern science now tells us that the mineral, vitamin, and organic compound content of pear species is the reason for its vast health potential. Some of these active and effective components are potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, phenolic compounds, folate, dietary fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, as well as B-complex vitamins.
Health Benefits of Pears
Apart from being a tasty addition to the diet, pears are also packed with many nutrients, which provide medicinal benefits. Let us look at the benefits in detail;
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 secretion 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.
One of the complaints that some people have about various fruits is the calorie content, mainly derived from natural sugars. However, pears are one of the lowest-calorie fruits; an average pear has just over 100 calories, which is 5% of daily calorie allowance of a healthy diet. However, the nutritional supplementation they give you is immense, and the fiber makes you feel full. Therefore, people trying to lose weight often turn to pears to get the most “bang for their buck”. It is a high-energy and high-nutrition food with low impact on weight gain and obesity.
Like many other fruits, pears are a wealth of antioxidants that combat various diseases and conditions within the body. Antioxidants work to eliminate the free radicals that accumulate in the body following cellular metabolism. These free radicals mutate healthy cell DNA into cancerous cells and can cause a number of other devastating conditions. Therefore, 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 these dangerous compounds.
Antioxidants are primarily praised for their anti-carcinogenic activities, and pears have been connected to prevention of a number of different types of cancer, including colon, rectum, breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
Pears are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C that are beneficial for the immune system, as they stimulate white blood cell production. They have also been known to boost the immune system, which helps to eliminate conditions like common cold, flu, and other mild illnesses.
Improve Heart Health
Pears are a wonderful source of potassium, which means that they can have a significant impact on heart health because potassium is a well-known vasodilator. This means that it lowers blood pressure, which reduces strain on the entire cardiovascular system and makes it harder for clots to form or harm you. Furthermore, it increases blood flow to all parts of the body, which oxygenates the organs and promotes their effective function. Lowering blood pressure is also connected to a lower chance of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Finally, potassium 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.
Speed up Healing
Vitamin C is also an essential part of synthesizing new tissue in various organs and cellular structures of the body. This keeps the body’s metabolism running smoothly and ensures that all functions operate properly. Furthermore, wound healing is sped up with high levels of ascorbic acid, which pears do provide. It also helps to repair damaged blood vessels, which reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system and prevents certain heart diseases from developing.
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 minerals into the system, and increased levels of iron mean that the red blood cell synthesis 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 foods high in iron and copper, both of which are found in significant amounts in pears.
Prevent Birth Defects
Folates are another 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 the health and happiness of the baby, a major reason why pregnant women are encouraged to monitor their folic acid levels.
The antioxidant and flavonoid components of pears can also induce anti-inflammatory effects in the body, reducing the pain 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 aid in reducing bone mineral loss and debilitating conditions like osteoporosis and the general weakness of the body due to lack of support from the bones.
Skin & Hair Care
One of the most versatile vitamins in the human body is vitamin A. Pears are high in 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 can reduce the effects of aging on the skin, like wrinkles and age spots. These powerful fruits can also reduce 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, although there are always ongoing studies. However, some people suffer from allergic reactions based on certain types of fruit. Monitor your body’s behavior and reaction if you do not normally eat pears, and only eat an appropriate amount, no more than one pear per day.