9 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Pears
Written by Lisa Wartenberg, MFA, RD, LD — Updated on July 12, 2019
Pears are sweet, bell-shaped fruits that have been enjoyed since ancient times. They can be eaten crisp or soft.
They’re not only delicious but also offer many health benefits backed by science.
Here are 9 impressive health benefits of pears.
- Highly nutritious
Pears come in many different varieties. Bartlett, Bosc, and D’Anjou pears are among the most popular, but around 100 types are grown worldwide (1Trusted Source).
A medium-sized pear (178 grams) provides the following nutrients (2Trusted Source):
Protein: 1 gram
Carbs: 27 grams
Fiber: 6 grams
Vitamin C: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K: 6% of DV
Potassium: 4% of the DV
Copper: 16% of DV
This same serving also provides small amounts of folate, provitamin A, and niacin. Folate and niacin are important for cellular function and energy production, while provitamin A supports skin health and wound healing (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Pears are likewise a rich source of important minerals, such as copper and potassium. Copper plays a role in immunity, cholesterol metabolism, and nerve function, whereas potassium aids muscle contractions and heart function (1Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
What’s more, these fruits are an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants, which protect against oxidative damage. Be sure to eat the whole pear, as the peel boasts up to six times more polyphenols than the flesh (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Pears are especially rich in folate, vitamin C, copper, and potassium. They’re also a good source of polyphenol antioxidants.
- May promote gut health
Pears are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which are essential for digestive health. These fibers help maintain bowel regularity by softening and bulking up stool (11Trusted Source).
One medium-sized pear (178 grams) packs 6 grams of fiber — 22% of your daily fiber needs (2Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Additionally, soluble fibers feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. As such, they’re considered prebiotics, which are associated with healthy aging and improved immunity (12Trusted Source).
Notably, fiber may help relieve constipation. In a 4-week study, 80 adults with this condition received 24 grams of pectin — the kind of fiber found in fruit — per day. They experienced constipation relief and increased levels of healthy gut bacteria (13Trusted Source).
As pear skin contains a substantial amount of fiber, it’s best to eat this fruit unpeeled (2Trusted Source).
Pears offer dietary fiber, including prebiotics, which promotes bowel regularity, constipation relief, and overall digestive health. To get the most fiber from your pear, eat it with the skin on.
- Contain beneficial plant compounds
Pears offer many beneficial plant compounds that give these fruits their different hues.
For instance, anthocyanins lend a ruby-red hue to some pears. These compounds may improve heart health and strengthen blood vessels (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Though specific research on pear anthocyanins is needed, numerous population studies suggest that a high intake of anthocyanin-rich foods like berries is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (16Trusted Source).
Pears with green skin feature lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds necessary to keep your vision sharp, especially as you age (17Trusted Source).
Again, many of these beneficial plant compounds are concentrated in the skin (15Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Pears harbor many beneficial plant compounds. Those in red pears may protect heart health, while those in green pears may promote eye health.
- Have anti-inflammatory properties
Although inflammation is a normal immune response, chronic or long-term inflammation can harm your health. It’s linked to certain illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes (20Trusted Source).
Pears are a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants, which help fight inflammation and may decrease your risk of disease (14Trusted Source).
Several large reviews tie high flavonoid intake to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. This effect may be due to these compounds’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
What’s more, pears pack several vitamins and minerals, such as copper and vitamins C and K, which also combat inflammation (6, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
Pears are a rich source of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and protect against certain diseases.
- May offer anticancer effects
Pears contain various compounds that may exhibit anticancer properties. For example, their anthocyanin and cinnamic acid contents have been shown to fight cancer (15Trusted Source, 26, 27Trusted Source).
A few studies indicate that diets rich in fruits, including pears, may protect against some cancers, including those of the lung, stomach, and bladder (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
Some population studies suggest that flavonoid-rich fruits like pears may also safeguard against breast and ovarian cancers, making this fruit a particularly smart choice for women (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
While eating more fruit may reduce your cancer risk, more research is needed. Pears should not be considered a replacement for cancer treatment.
Pears contain many potent plant compounds that may have cancer-fighting properties. However, more research is needed.
- Linked to a lower risk of diabetes
Pears — particularly red varieties — may help decrease diabetes risk.
One large study in over 200,000 people found that eating 5 or more weekly servings of anthocyanin-rich fruits like red pears was associated with a 23% lower risk of type 2 diabetes (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Additionally, a mouse study noted that plant compounds, including anthocyanins, in pear peel exhibited both anti-diabetes and anti-inflammatory effects (35).
What’s more, the fiber in pears slows digestion, giving your body more time to break down and absorb carbs. This can also help regulate blood sugar levels, potentially helping prevent and control diabetes (11Trusted Source).
Pears may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes due to their fiber and anthocyanin contents.
- May boost heart health
Pears may lower your risk of heart disease.
Their procyanidin antioxidants may decrease stiffness in heart tissue, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
The peel contains an important antioxidant called quercetin, which is thought to benefit heart health by decreasing inflammation and reducing heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
One study in 40 adults with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that increases your heart disease risk, found that eating 2 medium pears each day for 12 weeks lowered heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and waist circumference (41Trusted Source).
A large, 17-year study in over 30,000 women revealed that every daily 80-gram portion of fruit decreased heart disease risk by 6–7%. For context, 1 medium pear weighs around 178 grams (2Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
Furthermore, regular intake of pears and other white-fleshed fruits is thought to lower stroke risk. One 10-year study in over 20,000 people determined that every 25 grams of white-fleshed fruit eaten daily decreased stroke risk by 9% (43Trusted Source).
Pears are rich in potent antioxidants, such as procyanidins and quercetin, that can boost heart health by improving blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating pears regularly may also reduce stroke risk.
- May help you lose weight
Pears are low in calories, high in water, and packed with fiber. This combination makes them a weight-loss-friendly food, as fiber and water can help keep you full.
When full, you’re naturally less prone to keep eating.
In one 12-week study, 40 adults who ate 2 pears daily lost up to 1.1 inches (2.7 cm) off their waist circumference (41Trusted Source).
Plus, a 10-week study found that women who added 3 pears per day to their usual diet lost an average of 1.9 pounds (0.84 kg). They also saw improvements in their lipid profile, a marker of heart health (44Trusted Source).
Eating pears regularly may help you feel full because of their high amounts of water and fiber. In turn, this may help you lose weight.
- Easy to add to your diet
Pears are available year-round and easy to find in most grocery stores.
Eaten whole — with a handful of nuts if you choose — they make a great snack. It’s also easy to add them to your favorite dishes, such as oatmeal, salads, and smoothies.
Popular cooking methods include roasting and poaching. Pears complement chicken or pork especially well. They likewise pair nicely with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, cheeses like Gouda and brie, and ingredients like lemon and chocolate.
However you choose to eat them, remember to include the skin to get the most nutrients.
Pears are widely available and easy to add to your diet. You can eat them whole with the skin on or incorporate them into main dishes. These fruits are especially delicious when roasted or poached.
The bottom line
Pears are a powerhouse fruit, packing fiber, vitamins, and beneficial plant compounds.
These nutrients are thought to fight inflammation, promote gut and heart health, protect against certain diseases, and even aid weight loss.
Just be sure to eat the peel, as it harbors many of this fruit’s nutrients.
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