Pear vs Apple - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
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.
Table of contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in Sodium||Equal|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|