With its distinctive shape, the pear is a sweet, juicy fruit, which brings joy to all who “pear-take” in it! (Hyuck) Not only are pear trees grown for their delicious fruit, but also ornamentally for their beautiful blossoms which are associated with purity, hope, longevity and lasting friendship – and are among the first to bloom each year, welcoming in spring.
All pears belong to the genus Pyrus in the sub-family Pomoideae within the plant family Rosaceae (AKA the rose family – that’s right, pears are related to roses!) Pears, like apples, are classified as “pomes” – a type of fruit with a tough core containing several small seeds and a fleshy, edible outer layer. This fruit originated in Central Asia (present-day Western China) and has been cultivated since pre-historic times. In fact, there is evidence of cultivation in China as early as 2,000 BC, where pears were additionally used as a traditional folk remedy to treat various ailments. This fruit was also cultivated in Europe where it was enjoyed by the Romans who introduced them into Britain, before they made their way to North America in the 17th century.
Today, there are over 3,000 varieties world-wide, ranging in shape and taste – some are best eaten raw, while others are “pear-fect” for cooking! Of these thousands of varieties, only about 100 are grown commercially. In fact, three species account for the majority of edible fruit production including the European pear, cultivated mainly in Europe and North America (with popular varieties such as Bartlett, Bosc, and D’Anjou), the Chinese white pear, and the Nashi pear (also known as Asian or apple pear because of its shape and texture), the last two being popular in eastern Asia. In the US, the main varieties grown include Green and Red Anjou, Bartlett and Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Seckel, Starkrimson, and Concorde; roughly 60% of the crop is sold for fresh consumption and 40% is used for processing. Americans only consume an average of 2.79 pounds fresh pears each year, but that value roughly doubles when accounting for all pear-products consumed.
Even though Asian pears look more like apples than pears, they belong to the genus Pyrus, which officially makes them pears! This fruit is great on its own or as part of a salad. If you have yet to have one, why not give it a try? I promise, it’s worth pear-taking in this unique fruit!
Nutrivore Score for Asian Pear – 621
Asian pears have a Nutrivore Score of 621, making them a high nutrient-dense food! Plus, they are a low-calorie-density food; the calorie count of Asian pears is 51 calories per cup!
Per serving, Asian pears are a best source (>50% daily value) of polyphenols; and a good source (10-20% daily value) of dietary fiber.
Asian Pear Nutrition Facts
One serving of Asian pears is standardized to 1 cup, sliced or about 122 grams (4.3 ounces), which is roughly equivalent to 1 small Asian pear (2 1/4 inches high and 2 1/2 inches in diameter). A large Asian pear (3 3/8 inches high and 3 inches in diameter) is roughly equivalent to 2 1/4 servings.
|Asian pear, raw||Nutrivore Score: 621||Nutrient Density: High|
|Serving Size: 1 cup, sliced or 1 small (122 grams)||Protein: 0.6 grams||Net Carbohydrates: 8.6 grams|
|Calories: 51||Total Fat: 0.3 grams||Dietary Fiber: 4.4 grams|
|Vitamin A||0.0 μg RAE||0% DV|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||11.0 μg||1% DV|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||12.2 μg||1% DV|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.3 mg||2% DV|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.1 mg||2% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||26.8 μg||2% DV|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||1.1 μg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||9.8 μg||2% DV|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin C||4.6 mg||5% DV|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin E||0.1 mg||1% DV|
|Vitamin K||5.5 μg||5% DV|
|Choline||6.2 mg||1% DV|
|Calcium||4.9 mg||0% DV|
|Copper||61.0 μg||7% DV|
|Iron||0.0 mg||0% DV|
|Magnesium||9.8 mg||2% DV|
|Manganese||73.2 μg||3% DV|
|Phosphorus||13.4 mg||1% DV|
|Potassium||147.6 mg||3% DV|
|Selenium||0.1 μg||0% DV|
|Sodium||0.0 mg||0% DV|
|Zinc||0.0 mg||0% DV|
|AMINO ACIDS & PEPTIDES|
Pear Nutrition Varies With Variety
There are over 3,000 varieties of pears world-wide, ranging in color, flavor, shape, size, and nutrient profile which means their Nutrivore Scores vary as well. While only about 100 types are grown commercially and just 3 species account for those widely available for mass consumption, we benefit most from including different varieties in our diet, so it’s worth trying new types if you have the chance! Asian pears stand-out when it comes to Nutrivore Score because they have over 8 times the amount of polyphenols compared to other pear varieties!
|Asian pears, raw||621|
|Bartlett pears, raw||132|
|Bosc pears, raw||147|
|Green anjou pears, raw||125|
|Red anjou pears, raw||135|
Health Benefits of Asian Pear Nutrients
Let’s take a closer look at all of the best and excellent source of nutrients found in a 1-cup serving of Asian pear and see how they benefit our health.
Asian Pears Provide 2000.8 mg of Polyphenols
Asian pears are a best source of polyphenols, providing 2000.8 mg of polyphenols per 1-cup serving!
Polyphenols play a huge role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions associated with oxidative stress. In fact, a major reason foods like red wine and olive oil (as well as diets rich in both, such as the Mediterranean diet) show up as so beneficial may be due to their high polyphenol content! Along with chronic diseases, supplementing with polyphenols has been shown to protect against infections and reduce the signs of aging. Polyphenols exert their most potent effects by acting as antioxidants—preventing cellular damage by neutralizing hazardous oxygen radicals and improving cellular health as a result (which, in turn, benefits virtually every system in the body). As a result of their antioxidant properties, polyphenols also boost the immune system and protect against both chronic and acute diseases. In addition, polyphenols can help regulate enzyme function, stimulate cell receptors, modulate the functions of inflammatory cells (including T and B lymphocytes, macrophages, platelets, and natural killer cells), alter adhesion molecule expression, affect nerve cells and cardiac muscle cells, and exert antiviral effects. Learn more about polyphenols here.
How Much Asian Pear Should We Eat Per Day?
Even though pome fruits (aka members of the apple family) aren’t particularly nutrient-dense, they ap-pear-antly still deliver impressive health benefits! How pear-fect! (Hyuck)
Consuming 800 grams of vegetables and fruits daily reduces all-cause mortality by 31% compared to eating less than 40 grams daily. A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis looked at how all-cause mortality was impacted by varying intakes of 12 different food groups: whole grains and cereals, refined grains and cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products, fish, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. This analysis revealed non-linear relationships between how much of a particular food group we eat and how it impacts our health. While the results revealed no upper limit to the benefits of vegetable intake, the sweet spot for fruit intake was 300 grams daily. Intakes of fruit over 400 grams per day were not as beneficial as 300 grams, but the good news is that even intakes of 600 grams of fruits per day was superior to no fruit at all! This sweet spot for fruit intake translates to 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily.
Thus, a good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 500 to 600 grams of vegetables (5 to 8 servings, depending on the vegetable, and as much as you want above that) and about 300 grams of fruit (2 to 3 servings, depending on the fruit) per day. Fruit makes a convenient snack, a healthy dessert, a whimsical addition to salads, and a sophisticated flavoring agent in the form of salsas, jams, and chutneys. A serving is standardized to 1 cup chopped for raw vegetables and fruits (typically translates to 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup once cooked). Learn more in Importance of Vegetables and Fruit
Observational studies have shown that apple or pear consumption significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality, while animal studies suggest that pears could help protect against ulcers, regulate alcohol metabolism, and reduce blood lipids.
It’s always best to mix up the fruit and veggies you eat day to day (aiming for a wide variety of different vegetables and fruits throughout the week), and Asian pears definitely have a place at the table.
Expand to see all scientific references for this article.
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USDA Food Central Database: Pears, asian, raw
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