Pears pack a powerful, nutritious punch

Published 11:31 am Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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Last week, we learned some of the wonders of cantaloupe. This week, let’s turn our attention to another summer favorite, the pear. 

Nothing much beats the flavor of a nice juicy pear, and while figs may be the oldest known fruit (11,000 years), pears are certainly one of the oldest as they were first cultivated in 5,000 B.C. by Chinese diplomat, Feng Li, and were referred to as the “fruit of the gods.” Botanically, pears belong to the “Rosaceae” family, along with apples, strawberries, plums, apricots, almonds, cherries and believe it or not, roses.

Though there are more than 5,000 varieties of pears grown worldwide, only ten varieties are grown commercially in the United States. Oregon and Washington make up the majority of pear production. In fact, the pear is the state fruit of Oregon. By the way, the scuppernong grape (I love them) is the state fruit of North Carolina, and the peach is the official state fruit of South Carolina and Georgia.

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Pears are not only delicious, but they’re nutritious. Pears provide a rich source of flavonoids,  compounds that exert anti-inflammatory activity. They are packed with nutrients, providing essential vitamins, minerals like potassium and copper, and dietary fiber. 

Did you know pears can actually help control blood sugar levels? That’s right, one medium pear scores about a 30 on the glycemic index scale. The glycemic index is a rating system that shows how quickly certain foods affect blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index score, such as white bread (100), white rice (73), corn (81), or pineapple (76) tend to drive up blood glucose levels, resulting in spikes. Pear’s glycemic index value (30) is more in line with foods such as apples (38), chickpeas (33), soy milk (30), and peanuts (21). One reason for the pear’s lower glycemic index value is the amount of fiber (8 grams) pears hold. When the body breaks down soluble fiber, it lowers the glycemic index of other foods. 

 “A pear a day keeps the doctor away” might seem silly, but did you know apples and pears have a similar nutrition profile? Pears contain more copper, a nutrient somewhat lacking in the Western diet. In addition, pears provide more iron, magnesium and zinc.

Pears were once referred to as “butter fruit” for their soft, butter-like texture, and pears grow on trees that can live up to 100 years. 

Ever heard of a papple? Some folks believe this fruit must be a cross between a pear and an apple, but it isn’t. A papple is a type of pear; more specifically, it’s a hybrid of European and Asian pear species. It’s referred to as a papple because it shares similar characteristics of appearance and texture with both pears and apples. 

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Contact David at or text to 864-494-6215.