Asian Pears: Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses

Asian pears, also known as apple pears or sand pears, are a healthy treat that combine the best qualities of apples and pears. These fruits are a crunchy, sweet member of the pear family, but they grow to be round like an apple. The Asian pear is often given as a gift throughout East Asia, due to its long shelf-life and delicious flavor.

Asian pears can be green, yellow, or brown, and they tend to weigh several ounces each. They’re native to East Asia, but they have spread around the world and are now cultivated everywhere from Australia to Canada. They bruise easily, but with careful packaging they can be shipped anywhere.

Asian pears are loved for their crisp texture and delicately sweet taste. They are normally eaten raw, but they can be baked or roasted as well. This tasty fruit is becoming more popular worldwide as its nutritional value and delicious flavor becomes well-known.

Health Benefits

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in Asian pears can provide significant health benefits.

The copper in Asian pears, for example, helps your body form blood cells and absorb iron. Copper is an important part of nerve cells and supports your immune system. It’s also a building block of collagen, which helps cushion your joints and strengthen your bones.

Asian pear nutrients can also help with health issues like:

Heart Health

The fiber in Asian pears can bind to “bad” LDL cholesterol and carry it out of your system, keeping your cholesterol levels lower.

Potassium, on the other hand, is connected to lower blood pressure. Sodium raises your blood pressure, but eating a healthy amount of potassium can lower it again without you having to cut out salt completely.

Blood Sugar Control

Dietary fiber also helps your body manage its blood sugar levels more effectively. Dietary fiber is absorbed by the body more slowly than simple sugar, helping insulin handle the blood sugar swing more easily. This can be especially helpful for people living with Type 2 diabetes.

Lower Risk of Some Types of Cancer

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Antioxidants like vitamin C help lower your risk of certain types of cancer. Colon and prostate cancer have both been shown to be minimized by antioxidants. The effects of antioxidants on breast cancer are still being studied. These antioxidants work by neutralizing free radical particles that can damage cells and cause cancer.

Prenatal Health

Asian pears are a good source of folate, also known as folic acid. Folate helps the body reproduce DNA and build new cells, so it’s particularly important for people who are pregnant. In fact, many doctors recommend folate supplements as part of regular prenatal care.

Nutrients per Serving

One Asian pear fruit contains:

Asian pears are a great source of dietary fiber, which helps the digestive system maintain a healthy level of good bacteria and can help regulate cholesterol.

Asian pears are also an excellent source of:

Asian pears are rich in potassium, which is one of the main minerals that helps regulate your heartbeat. Your heart’s cells use potassium to produce each beat of your heart, and a deficiency can lead to an irregular heartbeat and muscle cramps. On top of that, potassium is necessary for your kidneys to filter blood and for your nerves to function properly.

How to Prepare Asian Pears

Asian pears are in season from September through November, so expect to see them in stores throughout the fall. They are most often found in Asian grocery stores, though they are slowly spreading to larger supermarkets in the United States. They are often shipped in individual cushions because they bruise easily.

These fruits are crunchy but juicy, so they’re refreshing raw or chilled. Asian pears are still hard when ripe, so don’t wait for them to soften before you eat them. They keep in the refrigerator for weeks longer than other types of fruit.

Here are a few ways to add Asian pears to your meals:

  • Add Asian pears to fruit salad.
  • Eat one raw as a snack.
  • Slice and bake Asian pears with honey and cream cheese.
  • Add sliced Asian pears to a cheese plate.
  • Bake them into chips.
  • Include Asian pears in tarts or pies.
  • Blend them into a smoothie.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “Folic Acid.”

Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture: “Asian pears.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Federal Occupational Health: “Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Potassium lowers blood pressure.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet.”

MedlinePlus: “Potassium.”

Specialty Produce: “Asian Pears.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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