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Apple vs Pear - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Zvart Movsisyan by Zvart Movsisyan | Last updated on November 29, 2020
Education: Medical biochemistry MD
Apple
vs
Pear

Summary

Daily consumption of apples and pears is highly recommended for plenty of reasons. Due to their almost similar nutrient content, both are considered useful in protecting against many serious diseases.

Despite the general knowledge that apple contains a huge amount of iron, we discovered that pear contains more. On the other hand, apples are richer in vitamins and antioxidants, which protect against cell proliferative and oxidative processes. And, however valuable they may be, it is crucial not to forget about the sense of proportion – every drug could be a poison.

Introduction

Apples and pears are members of the Rosaceae family, believed to have originated in Asia. Both fruits have white flesh and are covered with skin. They have cores containing seeds.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” says the famous English expression. Is it really true? And what’s about a pear? Doesn’t it keep the doctor away? In order to find out the answers, let’s conduct a comparative analysis of their nutrition features and health impact.

Nutrition

Before passing on to the next question, I would like to dwell on the nutritional content comparison, which is the key point for further discussions.

Minerals

As you can see from the comparison charts below, apples and pears are equal in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium. However, pear contains more iron, calcium, magnesium, and especially copper and zinc. So the winner in this category is the pear.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Apple
0
:
7
Pear
Contains more Calcium +50%
Contains more Iron +50%
Contains more Magnesium +40%
Contains more Zinc +150%
Contains more Copper +203.7%
Equal in Phosphorus - 12
Equal in Potassium - 116
Equal in Sodium - 1
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 2% 5% 4% 5% 10% 1% 2% 9%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 3% 7% 5% 6% 11% 1% 3% 28%
Contains more Calcium +50%
Contains more Iron +50%
Contains more Magnesium +40%
Contains more Zinc +150%
Contains more Copper +203.7%
Equal in Phosphorus - 12
Equal in Potassium - 116
Equal in Sodium - 1

Vitamins

What about vitamins? There is no drastic difference here either, but still, apple wins. It’s higher in vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, while pear is higher in vitamin B3 and vitamin K.

They are equal in vitamin C and vitamin B2.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Apple
6
:
3
Pear
Contains more Vitamin A +116%
Contains more Vitamin E +50%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +41.7%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +24.5%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +41.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +76.9%
Contains more Folate +133.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +100%
Equal in Vitamin C - 4.3
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.026
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 4% 4% 0% 16% 5% 6% 2% 4% 10% 3% 0% 6%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 2% 3% 0% 15% 3% 6% 4% 3% 7% 6% 0% 11%
Contains more Vitamin A +116%
Contains more Vitamin E +50%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +41.7%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +24.5%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +41.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +76.9%
Contains more Folate +133.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +100%
Equal in Vitamin C - 4.3
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.026

Macronutrients

Apples and pears are the perfect products to use on many diets. Although they are rich in sugars like all fruits, their glycemic index values are low. Apples have a glycemic index of 36, while this number for pear is 38.

Both of these fruits are rich in fiber and antioxidant content and low in calories, as you can see below. That being said, pear is the champion here with higher fiber and lower sugar contents.

Health Impact

Although there are fewer studies about the health benefits of pears and their components than about apples, we will run a little comparison of their health impact.

Health benefits

Apples are a rich source of phytochemicals, including flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolics, which may help reduce the risk of different diseases by various mechanisms, like cell signaling, antioxidant, and cancer cell antiproliferative effects. These effects can decrease the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a study that involves several reports, apple consumption is particularly associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer (1).

According to another review published in 2011, significant risk reduction associated with apple intake was observed in cancer at several sites, including oral cavity and pharynx (18%), esophagus (22%), colorectal (30%), larynx (41%), breast (24%), ovary (24%), and prostate (7%) (2).

The high content of soluble fiber of apples and pears reduces the levels of low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol” and total cholesterol in plasma, according to a study published in 2012 (3).

Apples contain epicatechin flavonoids, which may lower blood pressure. On the other hand, pears contain quercetin, which not only reduces blood pressure but also has anti-cancer properties.

The next point worth mentioning is the role of pear and apple intake in reducing type 2 diabetes mellitus risk. According to a review published in 2017, consumption of apples and pears was associated with an 18% reduction of type 2 diabetes risk. This effect is ensured through the antioxidant and fiber contents of these fruits (4).

According to a review published in 2015, pears may improve gut health and prevent constipation due to their high fiber content (5).

Downsides and Risks

Other than benefits, apples and pears may also have some risks for health. They contain a considerable amount of fructose, overconsumption of which may intensify pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea in people with irritable bowel disorders.

Besides, apple seed contains small doses of the poison cyanide. In high quantities, this can lead to harm.

In addition, apples are quite acidic, making them up to four times more harmful to teeth than soda.

Historical Background

Pear originated in China in the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains in approximately 5000B.C. The Chinese considered the pear as a symbol of immortality.

In ancient Greece, pears were used against nausea as a natural remedy. In the Odyssey, Greek poet Homer refers to pears as “a gift of gods.” The pear was sacred to several goddesses – Hera and Aphrodite in Greek mythology, Roma goddesses Juno and Venus, as well as Pomona - the Roman goddess of fruitfulness.

Pear leaves were smoked before tobacco became popular in Europe.

And what’s about apples? Apples originated in the Middle East more than 4000 years ago. Apples are mentioned in Arabian Nights. Homer also mentions apple trees in the Odyssey. The Norse gods connected their immortality to apples.

Apple is popularly known as the forbidden fruit of Eden. However, original Bible scriptures do not mention the forbidden fruit to be an apple.

Harvesting and Storing

The storage life of apples and pears depends on harvesting at the proper stage of maturity and correct storage.

Apples have several indicators of maturity. Mature apples are juicy, crisp, firm, well-colored, and have characteristic flavor. When harvested too early, apples are poorly flavored, sour, astringent, and starchy. On the other hand, fruits harvested too late are mushy and soft.

The fundamental determinant criteria for maximum storage life are temperature and relative humidity. At a temperature of about 32°F and relative humidity between 90 and 95%, apples could be stored for 3 to 5 months.

Pears, however, shouldn’t be left to ripen on trees as they become gritty and poorly favored due to the development of stone cells in the fruit. Pears should be harvested when their color changes from a deep green to a light green and should be ripened indoors at a temperature of 60 to 70°F. In order to store pears for approximately 1 to 3 months, it is necessary to preserve non-ripened fruit at a temperature of 30 to 32°F and relative humidity of 90%.

Furthermore, there is a specific method for more long-term storage of apples and pears called controlled atmosphere storage. The principle of this method is based on reducing the temperature to the lowest level possible without damaging the fruit by freezing, changing the atmosphere in a storage room by reducing the oxygen, and increasing the carbon dioxide. It helps to slow down the ripening and aging processes of the stored fruits.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183591/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22400181
  4. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2017/fo/c6fo01378c/unauth
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657810/
Article author photo Zvart Movsisyan
Education: Medical biochemistry MD
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Apple vs Pear infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Apple Pear
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Sodium Equal
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Apple Pear Opinion
Net carbs 11.41g 12.13g Pear
Protein 0.26g 0.36g Pear
Fats 0.17g 0.14g Apple
Carbs 13.81g 15.23g Pear
Calories 52kcal 57kcal Pear
Starch 0.05g g Apple
Fructose 5.9g 6.42g Pear
Sugar 10.39g 9.75g Pear
Fiber 2.4g 3.1g Pear
Calcium 6mg 9mg Pear
Iron 0.12mg 0.18mg Pear
Magnesium 5mg 7mg Pear
Phosphorus 11mg 12mg Pear
Potassium 107mg 116mg Pear
Sodium 1mg 1mg
Zinc 0.04mg 0.1mg Pear
Copper 0.027mg 0.082mg Pear
Vitamin A 54IU 25IU Apple
Vitamin E 0.18mg 0.12mg Apple
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 4.6mg 4.3mg Apple
Vitamin B1 0.017mg 0.012mg Apple
Vitamin B2 0.026mg 0.026mg
Vitamin B3 0.091mg 0.161mg Pear
Vitamin B5 0.061mg 0.049mg Apple
Vitamin B6 0.041mg 0.029mg Apple
Folate 3µg 7µg Pear
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 2.2µg 4.4µg Pear
Tryptophan 0.001mg 0.002mg Pear
Threonine 0.006mg 0.011mg Pear
Isoleucine 0.006mg 0.011mg Pear
Leucine 0.013mg 0.019mg Pear
Lysine 0.012mg 0.017mg Pear
Methionine 0.001mg 0.002mg Pear
Phenylalanine 0.006mg 0.011mg Pear
Valine 0.012mg 0.017mg Pear
Histidine 0.005mg 0.002mg Apple
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Saturated Fat 0.028g 0.022g Pear
Monounsaturated Fat 0.007g 0.084g Pear
Polyunsaturated fat 0.051g 0.094g Pear

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Apple Pear
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
5
Apple
5
Pear
Mineral Summary Score
4
Apple
8
Pear

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
2%
Apple
2%
Pear
Carbohydrates
14%
Apple
15%
Pear
Fats
1%
Apple
1%
Pear

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Pear
Pear is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.64g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Pear
Pear is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.006g)
Which food is cheaper?
Pear
Pear is cheaper (difference - $0.1)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Pear
Pear is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Apple
Apple is lower in glycemic index (difference - 2)
Which food contains less Sodium?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sodium (1 mg)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Apple - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171688/nutrients
  2. Pear - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169118/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.