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Pear, Bartlett

Juicy and sweet, with a soft, buttery yet somewhat grainy texture, the white to cream-colored flesh of pears was once referred to as the ‘gift of the gods”. Although the season for pears runs from August through October, there is a variety of pear available year-round because of the seasonal variations amongst the different varieties

Pears are members of the rose family and related to the apple and the quince. Pears generally have a large round bottom that tapers towards the top. Depending upon the variety, their paper-thin skins can either be yellow, green, brown, red or a combination of two or more of these colors. Like apples, pears have a core that features several seeds.


Health Benefits

Pear are packed not only with flavor, but fiber.

Protection from Free Radicals

Our food ranking system also qualified pears as a good source of vitamin C and copper. Both of these nutrients can be thought of as antioxidant nutrients that help protect cells in the body from oxygen-related damage due to free radicals. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in all water-soluble areas of the body, and in addition to its antioxidant activity, is critical for good immune function. Vitamin C stimulates white cells to fight infection, directly kills many bacteria and viruses, and regenerates Vitamin E (an antioxidant that protects fat-soluble areas of the body) after it has been inactivated by disarming free radicals.

Copper helps protect the body from free radical damage as a necessary component of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a copper-dependent enzyme that eliminates superoxide radicals. Superoxide radicals are a type of free radical generated during normal metabolism, as well as when white blood cells attack invading bacteria and viruses. If not eliminated quickly, superoxide radicals damage cell membranes.

Treat your tastebuds to a delectable, juicy pear, and you'll be treating your body to 11.1% of the daily value for vitamin C along with 9.5% of the daily value for copper.

Pears Promote Cardiovascular and Colon Health

Pear's fiber does a lot more than help prevent constipation and ensure regularity. Fiber has been shown in a number of studies to lower high cholesterol levels, good news to people at risk for atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Fiber in the colon binds to bile salts and carries them out of the body. Since bile salts are made from cholesterol, the body must break down more cholesterol to make more bile, a substance which is also necessary for digestion. The end result is a lowering of cholesterol levels.

Fiber also binds to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon, preventing them from damaging colon cells. This may be one reason why diets high in fiber-rich foods, such as pears, are associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Additionally, the fact that low dietary intake of copper seems to also associated with risk factors for colon cancer (increased fecal free radical production and fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity) serves as yet another reason in support of why this delicious fruit may be very beneficial for colonic health.

A Hypo-Allergenic Fruit

Although not well-documented in scientific research, pears are often recommended by healthcare practitioners as a hypoallergenic fruit that is less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits. Particularly in the introduction of first fruits to infants, pear is often recommended as a safe way to start.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved 77,562 women and 40,866 men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARM, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARM, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but pears can help you reach this goal. Add sliced pears to your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or green salads. For an elegant meal, decorate any broiled fish with slices of pear.(July 10, 2004)

Description

Pears are delicious fruits that are related to the apple and the quince. While there are thousands of varieties of pears with each differing in size, shape, color, taste and storage qualities, the Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou and Comice pears are the most commonly available types in the United States. Varieties such as Conference, Passe Crassane and Packham, which are popular in other countries, are also becoming more widely available.

Pears generally have a large round bottom that tapers towards the top. Depending upon the variety, their paper-thin skins can either be yellow, green, brown, red or a combination of two or more of these colors. The white to cream-colored flesh of pears is very juicy and sweet, while their textures are soft and buttery, yet slightly grainy. Like apples, pears have a core that features several seeds.

The scientific name for pear is Pyrus communis.

History

While the cultivation of pears has been traced back in western Asia for three thousand years, there is also some speculation that its history goes back even further and that this marvelous fruit was discovered by people in the Stone Age. Whatever their origins, pears have been revered throughout time. Called the “gift of the gods” by Homer in his epic, The Odyssey, pears were also a luxurious item in the court of Louis XIV. The early colonists brought pears to America, and while the first pear tree was planted in 1620, much of their pear supply was still imported from France. Like many other fruit trees, pears were introduced into California and Mexico by missionaries who planted them in their mission gardens.

Interestingly, with all of the respect which pears commanded, until the 18th century they did not have the soft juicy flesh that we now know them to possess. It was during this time that a lot of attention was given to the cultivation and breeding of pears, and many varieties were developed that featured pears’ distinctive buttery texture and sweet taste. Today, much of the world’s pear supply is grown in China, Italy and the United States.

How to Select and Store

Since pears are very perishable once they are ripe, the pears you find at the market will generally be unripe and will require a few days of maturing. Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. They should have a smooth skin that is free of bruises or mold. The color of good quality pears may not be uniform as some may feature russetting where there are brown-speckled patches on the skin; this is an acceptable characteristic and oftentimes reflects a more intense flavor. Avoid pears that are punctured or have dark soft spots.

Pears should be left at room temperature to ripen. Once their skin yields to gentle pressure, they are ripe and ready to be eaten. If you will not be consuming the pears immediately once they have ripened, you can place them in the refrigerator where they will remain fresh for a few days. If you want to hasten the ripening process, place them in a paper bag, turning them occasionally, and keep them at room temperature. Storing pears in sealed plastic bags or restricted spaces where they are in too close proximity to each other should be avoided since they will have limited exposure to oxygen, and the ethylene gas that they naturally produce will greatly increase their ripening process, causing them to degrade. Pears should also be stored away from other strong smelling foods, whether on the countertop on in the refrigerator, as they tend to absorb smells.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for Preparing Pears:

Fresh pears are delicious eaten as is after gently washing the skin by running it under cool water and patting it dry. Since their skin provides some of their fiber, it is best to not peel the fruit but eat the entire pear. To cut the pear into pieces, you can use an apple corer, cutting from the fruit’s base to remove the core, and then cutting it into the desired sizes and shapes. Once cut, pears will oxidize quickly and turn a brownish color. You can help to prevent this by applying some lemon, lime or orange juice to the flesh.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Combine pears with mustard greens, watercress, leeks and walnuts for a delicious salad.

Serve pears with goat or bleu cheese for a delightful dessert.

Add chopped pears, grated ginger and honey to millet porridge for a pungently sweet breakfast treat.

Core pears, and poach in apple juice or wine.

Safety

Pesticide Residues

Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. Since pears are among the 20 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found, individuals wanting to avoid these health risks may want to avoid consumption of pears unless grown organically.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that amount represents; the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Not all of our Daily Value standards are obtained from the FDA. In most instances, we used FDA Daily Values when available because they are widely recognized and apply to both men and women. However, when unavailable, we've used other science-based research to establish nutritional standards. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read more about our Food and Recipe Rating System.

Pear, Bartlett
1.00 each
97.94 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
dietary fiber 3.98 g 15.9 2.9 good
vitamin C 6.64 mg 11.1 2.0 good
copper 0.19 mg 9.5 1.7 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Pear, Bartlett

References

  • Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Jun;122(6):883-92.
  • Davis CD. Low dietary copper increases fecal free radical production, fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity and cytotoxicity in healthy men. J Nutr. 2003 Feb; 133(2):522-7.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

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