Pears are high in dietary fibre, containing 6g per serving. This high dietary fibre content sets pears apart from other fruit in terms of beneficial effects on gut health. Pears are high in fructose which does dot elicit an insulin response. Pears contain antioxidants and contain good levels of phenolics. Animal studies suggest that pears may regulate alcohol metabolism, protect against ulcers and lower plasma fatty lipids.
Pears have been used in traditional medicine in China for more than 2000 years because of their anti-inflammatory, blood sugar and diuretic benefits. Pears are a great source of vitamin C and potassium. A large pear yields around 250mg of potassium. Pears are particularly rich in fructose and sorbitol, as compared with other fruits. Sorbitol is a sugary alcohol that metabolises slowly, sorbitol has less of an effect on blood sugar levels than refined sugar.
Pears are high in pectin and other soluble fibres, with pears containing 70% insoluble fibre and 30% soluble fibre. Pectin is a naturally occurring polyscaccaride (a complex sugar) found in berries, apples and other fruits. Polysaccaries are great for the gut bacteria. Pectin is proved to have diverse biological activities including lipid and cholesterol level lowering effects, blood glucose, insulin content lowering effects and anti-cancer activities. In a NCBI study, pectin was shown to have a low degree of esterification and its enzyme segments allow adhesion to the mucous in the gastrointestinal tract. Pectin forms a physical barrier protecting microbial invasion during stress and SIBO.
The hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acid content in pears is linked with cancer prevention. Pears also contain boron prevents osteoporosis. Quercetin, lutein and zeaxanthin provide additional health benefits such as cancer prevention, type diabetes prevention and reduced heart disease risks.
Too many pears may cause loose stools and pectin has a habit of boosting iron absorption, so it’s best to not have more than 1 a day. Always eat the skin and never peel.
Great ways to eat pears
- Pear and walnut salad (with balsamic, olive oil and mustard dressing). Use peppers, celery, onions, avocado, tomatoes and shredded cabbage as the base. Add optional blue cheese.
- Pears with blue cheese and prosciutto ham. Take a slither of pear and blue cheese, wrap the prosciutto and serve as finger food or as a snack.
- Rocket, pear and parmesan salad. Use romaine lettuce and rocket as the salad base. Add roasted pine nuts. Add slices of pear and use a light oil dressing (or cream). Shave parmesan over the top.
- Pear and Bacon Grilled Cheese sandwich.
- Pear and chicken skewers. Add onion, peppers, pear and chicken to a skewer. Glaze with lemon juice, soy and honey. Oven cook or barbecue.
- Pan-fried pear salad with pancetta and gorgonzola.
- Chicken with glazed pear. Pan fry a chicken breast (with skin) and remove. Keeping the juices, add 2 or 3 flat slices of pear to the pan and add soy sauce, honey, white wine vinegar and ginger. Pour over the chicken and serve.
- Noodles with chicken and pear. Wok fry chicken with onions and mushrooms. Add a spoon of peanut butter and sesame oil. Stir in the cooked noodles and add some pear cubes.
- Poached pears. Poach a whole peeled pear in a mixture of red wine, lemon juice, sugar and spices (cardamon and cinnamon). Serve with an organic full cream ice cream.
- Pears are also fantastic in cakes, bread puddings and tarts.