While some people might view "fruit" as being lumped into one general category and all fruits are created equal, that is simply not the case.  For instance, pears do not contain the same types or amounts of nutrients as apples, but pears (along with beans) do contain a dietary fiber very effective for helping people lower their cholesterol.


There are several varieties of pears ranging from very juicy to crunchy.  Pears are about the size of an apple but have a shape that is round at the bottom and tapers up toward the top.  The skins of pears can vary from green, yellow, brown or red, and sometimes are a combination of two colors.  The flesh is white and sweet.  Pears have an unusual texture which is slightly grainy.


The pear dates back as far as the Stone Age.  The Greek poet Homer wrote about pears as "a gift of the gods."  The Roman population seems to have agreed with this pronouncement, creating more than 50 different varieties of pears using grafting techniques.  In the court of King Louis XIV, pears were considered a luxury.

Pear trees were first planted in the New World when they were brought by early colonists in 1620.  Missionaries brought this tasty fruit to California in the 1700s.  Today's world producers of pears are the United States, Italy and China.

Nutritional Information

Pears are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamins B2 and E, copper and potassium.  A 100-gram serving (about two-thirds of a pear) contains about 58 calories, 0.1 gram of fat, 0.4 gram of protein, 15.4 grams of carbohydrates, 9.8 grams of natural sugars and 3.1 grams of fiber.

Pears also contain the fiber known as pectin, and are actually higher in pectin than apples.  Altogether, one pear contains more fiber than a serving of bran cereal or a bran muffin.  Eating two pears a day provides 32 percent of the daily recommended value for fiber.

This fruit also contains a "bone food," a mineral called boron, which appears to play an important role in helping to keep bones strong.  Recent research shows that boron helps prevent calcium loss in postmenopausal women. 

One train of thought suggests what is good for the bones is also good for the brain.  Other research has shown those individuals who have lower amounts of boron in their body also score lower on tests.

Health Benefits

The insoluble dietary fiber found in pears mentioned above is called lignin.  This fiber helps to rid the body of cholesterol by acting a little like Velcro, trapping cholesterol molecules in the intestine before they become absorbed by the bloodstream.  Another health benefit of insoluble fiber is absorbing large amounts of water.  The extra water helps stools to pass more easily and quickly through the digestive tract and the bowels, helping to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids and reducing the risk for a person to contract colon cancer.

The tasty pear is frequently recommended by health care practitioners as a hypoallergenic alternative for people who have allergies to other fruits.  This is why doctors recommend introducing pears to infants as one of their first fruits.


Pears are among the many foods on which pesticide residues are commonly found.  Selecting organically-grown pears is a good idea, or be sure to thoroughly wash this fruit before consuming.

Because pears are considered to be a hypoallergenic food, they can be used in allergy elimination diets.

Selecting and Storing

Pears are typically purchased in an unripe state and require a day or two to mature.  The skin color will change as the fruit ripens, from green to whatever color is characteristic for that particular variety of pear.  Anjou and Bartlett pears are yellow, Bosc pears are brown, and Cornice pears have a mottled, green skin when ripe.

Pears have a tendency to absorb odors, whether on a countertop or in the refrigerator, so store this fruit away from any strong-smelling foods.

Serving Ideas for Pears

Much of the fiber and nutrients in pears are found in the skin, so when possible, eat the skins as well as the flesh.  An apple corer can be used to cut pears, first removing the core and then slicing as desired. 

Pears oxidize quickly, but this can be prevented by applying a little lime, orange or lemon juice to the flesh.  Firm pears are much easier to juice than soft pears.

A few quick serving ideas include:

  • Serving grilled pears and onions on top of a bed of romaine lettuce.  Dress with olive oil and fresh rosemary.

  • Core pears and stuff with nuts and raisins.  Poach in apple juice or wine. 

  • Combine pears with mustard greens, leeks, watercress and walnuts for a simple but delicious salad.

  • Serve goat or bleu cheese with pears for a simple dessert or snack.


  1. Holford, P.(2004). The optimum nutrition bible. London : Piatkus
  2. Holford, P & Lawson, S. (2008). Optimum Nutrition Made Easy How to achieve optimum health. London : Piatkus
  3. Murray, M.T. et al.(2005). Encyclopedia of healing foods. London : Piatkus
  4. Yeager, S. & Prevention Health Books. (1998). The doctors book of food remedies : the newest discoveries in the power of food to cure and prevent health problems from aging and diabetes to ulcers and yeast infections. [Emmaus, Pa.] : Rodale

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