Pears are a juicy, sweet fruit with soft flesh and a grainy-textured skin. Their characteristic shape makes them readily identifiable; they most often have a large, rounded bottom that tapers toward the top. The skin varies in color and may be yellow, light green, brown, red or a combination of these colors. They have a seeded core and are rich in dietary fiber and a number of vitamins and minerals. Many varieties of pears are available; the fruit is usually available in one more varieties year-round.
Pears, members of the rose family, are related to the quince and apple. Much like apples, literally thousands of varieties of pears exist. Each variety differs somewhat in color, shape, size, storage qualities and flavor. The most common varieties in the United States include the green Anjou, Bosc, yellow Bartlett and Comice pears. Pears are highly perishable and should be eaten shortly after ripening. While consumers should avoid pears with dark spots or punctures, brown-speckled skin is common and acceptable.
Basic Nutrient Stats
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pears offer a quick source of energy due to their high content of the natural sugars fructose and glucose. Pears, like many fruits, are nutrient-dense, providing more nutrients per calorie than calories per nutrient. One medium-sized raw pear, about 178 grams, provides 103 calories, no fat, 1 gram of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of dietary fiber and 2 milligrams of sodium. Carbohydrates make up 98 percent of the energy provided by a pear.
Vitamins C and K
Pears are a good food source of two essential vitamins: C and K. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin important for optimal immune system function and wound healing. The vitamin is needed to form connective tissues, including collagen, and also promotes healthy gums. Vitamin K, in addition to being essential for proper blood clotting, is important for developing and maintaining strong bones. One medium-sized raw pear provides 7.5 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 10 percent 75 milligrams women need each day. A pear also supplies 8 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 9 percent of the 90 micrograms women need on a daily basis.
Fresh, raw pears are a source of the major mineral potassium. Potassium, along with minerals such as magnesium and calcium, helps regulate blood pressure, and potassium-rich diets may be beneficial for individuals suffering from hypertension. Potassium also regulates heartbeat and fluid and acid-base balance in the body. One medium-sized pear provides about 212 milligrams, meeting 5 percent of the 4,700 milligrams women should have each day.
Where pears outshine many fruits is in their high dietary fiber content, providing, on average, 5 grams of dietary fiber per medium-sized fruit. Women should consume at least 25 grams of fiber daily, so that pear is about one-fifth of that goal. Dietary fiber, in conjunction with an adequate fluid intake, helps to move waste products quickly and relatively easily through the digestive tract, promoting digestive health. In addition, eating fiber-rich foods such as pears may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
- blackberries and pears image by Shirley Hirst from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.