Pears nutrition: glycemic index, calories weight loss and diets
Complete nutrition and health benefits analysis for Pear
Pears are often distinguished by their unique shape and are associated with Autumn. In this article, we will talk in depth about a pear’s nutrition, impact on health, how it fits in different diets and much more.
Pears grow on trees or shrubs that belong to the Rosaceae family and the Pyrus genus. Belonging to this family, they are related to apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, strawberries and many other fruits.
There are estimated to be around 3000 varieties of pears. Most of these varieties are ready to harvest from mid August to October. Like apples, pears are pome fruits, having a core with small seeds, a tough flesh and an edible skin.
First have a look at our pear nutrition infographic below
Pear nutrition infographic
Fruits have always been associated with being full of vitamins and good for your health, but what exactly does a pear consist of?
Calories in a Pear
A 100g of pear contains 57 calories. An average serving is a middle sized pear that weighs around 166g. Therefore one serving of a pear contains 97 calories. This number is only slightly higher compared to the caloric content of an apple and is considered to be low.
The main element that a pear contains is water, like most fruits. Pears consist of 84% water.
Carbohydrates in a Pear
A 100g pear contains 15g of carbohydrates. Out of this the dietary fiber comprises 3g and total sugars make up for another 10g. A pear also contains 1g of added sugars
Out of all sugars, pears are particularly rich in fructose and sorbitol, compared to other fruits (3).
One average serving of a pear is a source of 25g of carbohydrates.
Proteins and Fats in a Pear
A 100g pear contains less that one gram of both protein and fats.
However small the amount, the main type of fats found in a pear are the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, followed by monounsaturated fatty acids. Pears are very low in saturated fats and naturally do not contain cholesterol.
Pear also contains very small amounts of all essential amino acids, except for methionine and histidine.
Among all vitamins, pears are the best source of vitamin C. Pears are also quite high in vitamin A and vitamin K. They contain moderate to low amounts of vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin E, vitamins B6, B3, B2, B1 and B5.
All vitamins are more concentrated in the skin (3).
However, pears completely lack vitamin B12, vitamin D and the folic form of vitamin B9.
Pears are rich in copper and magnesium. They also contain some amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, choline, phosphorus and selenium.
Pears are low in sodium.
The glycemic index of a pear can differ depending on the conditions it was grown in. The mean of fours studies, including different varieties of pears from 3 different countries, makes the average glycemic index of a raw pear equal to 38±2 (1).
The glycemic index of a pear that was canned in its own juice has been calculated to be 44, whereas pears, canned in reduced-sugar syrup have a glycemic index of 25±6.
Dried pears from the UK have a glycemic index ranging around 43±15 (2).
Pear is classified as a low glycemic index food.
Pears are one of the oldest fruits cultivated by man. In its history pear has often been used in traditional medicine, for its reported anti inflammatory, antihyperglycemic and diuretic qualities. Pears have also been used to relieve cough, as a remedy for alcohol hangovers and as a laxative (3).
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. The right diet can make all the difference in early prevention of cardiovascular disease development.
Pears are rich in phytochemicals that have strong antioxidant properties, providing between 27 to 41mg of phenolics per 100g (3).
Antioxidant content of pears can differ depending on the pear variety. One study compared antioxidant abilities of 10 different pear varieties and found that Yaguang, Hongpi, Qingpi and Guifei varieties contained relatively more total phenolic, total flavonoids and total triterpene, and showed stronger antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, while Lvbaoshi and Youran appeared to be weakest among them. All the chemical components found in the pear peel were approximately 6 to 20 times higher than those in the flesh of pear (4).
Pear pomace water extract has also been shown to be a valuable natural source of antioxidants (5).
Effects on Lipid Metabolism
Diets supplemented with pears have improved lipid metabolism and increased the plasma antioxidant potential in rats fed with added cholesterol (6).
Fruit consumption may affect smokers and non-smokers differently. One study has found that pear consumption increased total antioxidant capacity in non-smokers, but not in smokers. In non-smokers, levels of total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein increased significantly; while in smokers, total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein levels decreased (7).
Epidemiological studies have demonstrated significant evidence of an inverse association between pear consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pear intake was estimated to have an 18% reduction of type 2 diabetes risk (8).
Pears are said to have this antidiabetic quality due to their concentration of anthocyanins (9).
Aqueous and ethanolic extracts of both peel and pulp from 8 different pear varieties have been demonstrated to possess antihyperglycemic qualities, due to the phenolic content. Pears can be included in a healthy diet for people with type 2 diabetes to help manage early stages of hyperglycemia (10).
Pear extract also improves impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance (11).
A clinical study has concluded that pear consumption can be associated with weight reduction (12).
It has been shown that pear extract supplementation ameliorates diet‐induced obesity and associated metabolic complications. Both pear fruits and malaxinic acid, found in a pear’s composition, suggest health-beneficial effects that counteract these diseases (11).
Diets rich with various fruits and vegetables have been associated with lowered risk of developing cancer.
Higher consumption of pears has been studied to lead to decreased lung cancer incidence (13).
The Nordic diet that includes high consumption of pears among other foods has been found to lower the risk of colorectal cancer development in women (14).
Another study found a protective association between intake of fruits from the Rosaceae family, such as pears, and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (15).
As healthy as a pear can be, it can also be hazardous for people who are intolerant to it.
There are two different types of pear allergies. The first form is called birch-fruit syndrome and is a form of cross reactivity between birch pollen and fruit such as pears. This allergy is more common in the North of Europe and the allergen that causes it is not tolerant to high temperatures. This means that people with a birch-pear allergy can often eat pears in cooked forms. This allergy also has been found to commonly have cross reactions within other fruits, such as apples, apricots, cherry, melon, banana, nuts, etc (16).
The second form of this allergy often causes more severe reactions and has no cross sensitivity to birch pollen. However people with this allergy are commonly also allergic to peaches. The peel of the fruit can be more allergenic than the flesh and the allergen survives processing, so even cooking does not destroy it. This allergy is more common in Mediterranean countries (16).
The allergens found in pears are called Pyr c 1, Pyr c 3, Pyr c 4 and Pyr c 5 proteins and reside both in the flesh and in the pulp. However these proteins are concentrated in the peel, so the peel tends to be more allergy inducing (17).
The general symptoms can range from mild to severe. These include oral allergy syndrome (itching, swelling and redness of the oral area), itching of the eyes and throat, contact dermatitis, nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea and in rare cases anaphylactic shock.
Pears in Diets
One average pear contains 25g of carbohydrates. Since the keto diet allows only 5 to 10% (20 to 50g) of your daily caloric intake to consist of carbohydrates (18), pears are not considered to be keto friendly (19).
Pears are low in sodium and high in fiber, containing moderate amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Due to these characteristics, pears suit the DASH diet.
Pears, containing 15g of carbohydrates per 100g, are considered to be high carb fruits and are only allowed in the Induction phase of this diet and in moderation. Overall, it is advised to avoid this fruit during the Atkins diet.
Fruits are essential to the Mediterannean diet. Pears are also included in the traditional version of this diet (20).
Most fruits and vegetables are included in the paleo diet. Pears fit this diet but only in moderation.
Vegan/ Vegetarian/ Pescetarian
Pears being fruits, naturally fit in all three diets.
Pears are not allowed in the first two, Attack and Cruise, phases of this diet. Starting from the Consolidation phase you can add pears in limited amounts to your diet. In fact, pears are one of the best fruits to add during this phase (21).
Like most fruits, you can use pears during the eating periods, but not during the fasting periods.
Low Fat & Low Calorie
Pears are very low in fats but contain 97 calories per serving. You can have pears during low fat diets and can use them in low calorie diets in moderation.
A serving of pear contains 25g of carbohydrates. Pears are not advisable to use during low carb diets.
Studies have found pear to have certain anti inflammatory qualities, due to its phytochemical content (3). Therefore pears can be a healthy option during this diet.
Raw pears are high in fiber and sugar and are to be avoided. However you can have pear juice in the first 8 to 12 hours of this diet and can add canned pears, preferably in natural juice, during the next 12 to 24 hours of this diet (22).
The Nordic diet is based on traditional ways of eating in the Nordic countries, which include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. It has been studied to have positive effects on the environment and health, lowering mortality rates (23).
Nordic diet staples include whole-grain cereals such as rye, barley, and oats; berries and other fruits; vegetables (especially cabbage and root vegetables like potatoes and carrots); fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring; and legumes (beans and peas) (24).
Pears and apples are an important part of this diet.
Fruits in general tend to be more acidic. Pears have a pH of 3-4, making this fruit acidic as well (25).
Inside the human body, pears have been calculated to have a potential renal acid load (PRAL) of -2.1, making it alkaline.
One average serving size of a pear is considered to weigh 166g, that is the size of a medium pear.
Pears are more often eaten raw but can also be used in salads, pastries and desserts.
Keeping, Storing and Conservation
Storage of pear can affect its antioxidant capacity and is it important to use pears correctly in order to not waste its beneficial qualities on health.
Ripe pears should be refrigerated at a 2 to 7°C (35 to 45°F) temperature and at 85% to 90% humidity. Unripe pears can be kept at room temperature to ripen. However pears ripen from the inside out, so when the peel gets soft, the pulp can already be overripe. The ripeness of pears can be checked by applying pressure to the neck of the fruit. If it gives slightly to pressure, it is already ripe. You can also speed up the process of ripening by keeping pears close to avocados or bananas (26).
You can also freeze pears to lengthen the storage period, however they may lose some nutrients in the process.
After one week of domestic storage, the ascorbic acid content was found to decrease by 75%. Peeling led to a more than 25% decrease in total phenolics and ascorbic acid (27). So it is recommended to consume pears shortly after buying and preferably with peel.
Consumption and Production
In 2012, US per-capita consumption of fresh pears was 1.3 kg (2.8 lb), according to the US Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Per-capita consumption of all pear products was about 3 kg (7 lb) in 2010. About 60% of the US pear crop is sold as fresh, and 40% is processed, primarily in the form of canned product. The United States is a net exporter of pears (3).
China, with approximately 17 million tonnes of pear production per year is the largest pear producing country worldwide, comprising around 68% of total production. The country that follows is Argentina with 954K tonnes and is followed by Italy with 767K tonnes of pear production per year (28).
China is also the largest consumer of pears, accounting for nearly 66% of total consumption. The second largest consumer in the world is Italy, followed by the USA.
Overall, the global pear market revenue in 2018 amounted to 27.3 billion dollars (28).
There are estimated to be over 3000 varieties of pears, however, only about a hundred of them are commercially popular.
The 10 main varieties grown in the United States are Green and Red Anjou, Bartlett and Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Seckel, Starkrimson, and Concorde (3).
The varieties mainly differ by their softness and sweetness. The Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Comice and Starkrimson are very soft, juicy and sweet, whereas Forelle, Seckel and Bosc are crispy and less sweet (29).
Whatever the variety, the nutrition of pears make this fruit a great choice for most health-conscious consumers.
Important nutritional characteristics for Pear
Pear Glycemic index (GI)
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NEW NUTRITION FACTS LABEL
Serving Size ______________
Mineral coverage chart
Mineral chart - relative view
Vitamin coverage chart
Vitamin chart - relative view
Protein quality breakdown
Fat type information
Carbohydrate type breakdown
Fiber content ratio for Pear
All nutrients for Pear per 100g
|Nutrient||DV%||In TOP % of foods||Value||Comparison|
|Protein||1%||92%||0.36g||7.8 times less than Broccoli|
|Fats||0%||90%||0.14g||237.9 times less than Cheese|
|Carbs||5%||41%||15.23g||1.8 times less than Rice|
|Calories||3%||84%||57kcal||1.2 times more than Orange|
|Fructose||8%||81%||6.42g||1.1 times more than Apple|
|Sugar||0%||40%||9.75g||1.1 times more than Coca-Cola|
|Fiber||12%||26%||3.1g||1.3 times more than Orange|
|Calcium||1%||79%||9mg||13.9 times less than Milk|
|Iron||2%||90%||0.18mg||14.4 times less than Beef|
|Magnesium||2%||89%||7mg||20 times less than Almond|
|Phosphorus||2%||92%||12mg||15.2 times less than Chicken meat|
|Potassium||3%||79%||116mg||1.3 times less than Cucumber|
|Sodium||0%||98%||1mg||490 times less than White Bread|
|Zinc||1%||91%||0.1mg||63.1 times less than Beef|
|Copper||9%||61%||0.08mg||1.7 times less than Shiitake|
|Vitamin E||1%||84%||0.12mg||12.2 times less than Kiwifruit|
|Vitamin C||5%||30%||4.3mg||12.3 times less than Lemon|
|Vitamin B1||1%||91%||0.01mg||22.2 times less than Pea|
|Vitamin B2||2%||89%||0.03mg||5 times less than Avocado|
|Vitamin B3||1%||89%||0.16mg||59.5 times less than Turkey meat|
|Vitamin B5||1%||94%||0.05mg||23.1 times less than Sunflower seed|
|Vitamin B6||2%||88%||0.03mg||4.1 times less than Oat|
|Folate||2%||72%||7µg||8.7 times less than Brussels sprout|
|Vitamin K||4%||57%||4.4µg||23.1 times less than Broccoli|
|Tryptophan||0%||98%||0mg||152.5 times less than Chicken meat|
|Threonine||0%||98%||0.01mg||65.5 times less than Beef|
|Isoleucine||0%||98%||0.01mg||83.1 times less than Salmon|
|Leucine||0%||98%||0.02mg||127.9 times less than Tuna|
|Lysine||0%||98%||0.02mg||26.6 times less than Tofu|
|Methionine||0%||98%||0mg||48 times less than Quinoa|
|Phenylalanine||0%||98%||0.01mg||60.7 times less than Egg|
|Valine||0%||98%||0.02mg||119.4 times less than Soybean|
|Histidine||0%||99%||0mg||374.5 times less than Turkey meat|
|Saturated Fat||0%||91%||0.02g||268 times less than Beef|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0%||82%||0.08g||116.7 times less than Avocado|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0%||86%||0.09g||501.9 times less than Walnut|
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article and glycemic index text the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.