The health benefits of pears

These juicy, sweet fruit are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fibre, while being low in calories. Learn more with our expert guide.

Pears on a table

What are pears?

Pears are a mild, sweet fruit that are a bit bigger than an apple in size, and have a slightly thinner top half, and rounded bottom giving them their ‘pear-shape’. They typically have yellow-green skin on the outside, and a white, soft flesh on the inside all of which is edible. There is a small core in the middle which is more fibrous and often inedible.

Pears are traditionally in season in the UK in September and October. They grow on trees and are picked for harvesting when ripe.

Nutritional profile of pears

Pears contain 11.3g of carbohydrates, which is all natural sugars, 0.3g protein and negligible fat at 0.1g per 100g. This same amount of pear will provide 44 calories.

Pears are also a good source of fibre, with 2.7g per 100g and there is growing evidence about the importance of this pear fibre and the role it may play in the health of our gut microbiome (gut bacteria) and in preventing both obesity and type 2 diabetes.  

Pears contain a good array of vitamins and minerals including potassium that helps to manage the body’s balance of fluids, as well as phosphorus, vitamin K and calcium which are both needed for healthy bones and teeth.

Are pears high in sugar?

Pears contain the natural sugars of glucose, fructose and sucrose. Whilst this equates to 11.3g of sugar per 100g of pear, the higher fibre content also found in this fruit helps to slow the release of these sugars, not to mention the other health benefits you will receive from its nutrients.

How many pears counts as one of your 5-a-day?

An average pear weighs about 180g, so just half a pear will count as one of your 5-a-day.

Pears make a great snack, especially when balanced with a handful of almonds, but they can also be chopped on top of porridge or yogurt for breakfast, sliced on toast with nut butter, added to a salad or poached for a healthier dessert.

Can you be allergic to pears?

Some people are allergic to pears – this is especially if they already have an allergy to those in the birch pollen group. Signs of an allergy normally develop within minutes and can include itching of the mouth or throat, red patches on the skin or a cough and you should see your GP if you experience an adverse reaction to pears.  

However, if more serious symptoms develop such as difficulty breathing, light-headedness or blue lips then this is a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and requires immediate medical attention and you must call for an ambulance immediately.

Read more from the NHS about allergic reactions.

How to buy the best pears

Ideally aim to buy UK pears when they are in season. To check they are ripe, gently push the flesh at the top, near the stalk to see if it gives slightly. Too hard and it is under-ripe, too soft and it is overripe.

Healthy pear recipes

Pork with pears
Red cabbage with mulled Port & pears
Winter fruit salad
Rooibos & pear tea
Juicy Lucy pudding
Red chicory, pear & hazelnut salad

Now read...

The health benefits of apples
The health benefits of oranges
The health benefits of cherries


This article was published on 20 September 2019.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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