Pears aren't really a go-to snack for most of us—but maybe they should be. From staving off long-term threats to more everyday perks like preventing hangovers, study after study confirms that the skin, pulp, and juice of pears can offer a broad variety of health benefits. Here's why they're the unsung heroes of the fruit world.
This juice-filled fruit isn’t only fat-free—it can help fight off excess body fat, too.
A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences had 24,808 participants undergo a diet which required consumption of one fresh, medium-sized pear per day. It turns out those who downed the fruit had a significantly lower body weight, and were 35 percent less likely to be obese than the non-pear eaters. "We believe fiber intake may have driven the lower body weights that were seen in this study,” said lead reacher Dr. Carol O'Neil of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, in a press release. The study also discovered people who picked on the pears had a higher usual intake of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, and potassium, but had lower intakes of total, monounsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, and added sugars.
What’s more, the demographic of people who downed the nutritious snack typically consumed less alcohol, smoked fewer cigarettes, and were typically older than non-pear eaters.
According to a recent study from Food Research International, pears' phenols—compounds with antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties—keep the starch from high-carb foods from quickly turning into glucose, combating type-2 diabetes. The effects were strong enough that pre-diabetics could actually stop taking medication. Even if you're not at risk for diabetes, the blood-sugar stabilizing effects of phenols can keep you feeling in top form all day.
Results from the same study showed that pulp from Bartlett pears can lower blood pressure, which is a major factor in heart disease risk. This just goes to show that keeping up a healthy diet is good for much more than just your six-pack.
Recent research from Australia's CSIRO revealed that 200 mL of Asian pear juice can reduce the side effects of drinking by up to 20 percent. Having a pear before you drink can speed up your body's ability to flush it out later, and may also inhibit alcohol getting into your bloodstream in the first place.
"Believe it or not, there are effects that pears may have on the amount of blood alcohol after an alcoholic drink," lead researcher Professor Manny Noakes told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The study also found that pears can lower cholesterol and reduce constipation and inflammation.
You can find pear juice in specialty stores, but you'll likely do just as well with the fruit itself.
They can't quite compete with bananas, which famously pack in 420 milligrams of potassium, but pears, with about half that, are still a substantial source of this key electrolyte. Potassium regulates the amount of water and minerals in your cells. That makes it crucial to your heart, kidneys, and pretty much everything else.
Okay, so you probably won't find this in your local grocery store, but fermented pear juice can inhibit H. pylori, an ulcer-causing stomach bacteria. You might be able to find similar products billed as "perry," which is in the same vein as hard apple cider.