You can satisfy a craving for something sweet and do something good for your digestive tract all at the same time by snacking on a pear. Pears are packed with fiber, which is an essential nutrient for normal digestion. In addition to keeping you regular, some fiber is fermented, which supports the health of your intestinal tract. In spite of their benefits, pears may cause gastrointestinal problems if you're fructose intolerant.
Fiber Benefits Digestion
A medium-sized fresh pear contains 5.5 grams of fiber, which represents 22 percent of the daily value based on consuming 2,000 calories daily. Fiber binds with water in the digestive tract, adding moisture and weight to waste, which moves stool through your intestines and prevents constipation. One of the two types of fiber, soluble fiber, also helps relieve diarrhea by absorbing moisture. Just don't consume a lot of fiber at one time, or it may have the opposite effect and cause diarrhea.
Fermentable Fiber for Energy
Bacteria that naturally thrive in your large intestine ferment some of the soluble fiber found in pears. The fermentation of fiber produces short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed by cells in the intestinal wall and provide a significant source of energy for the colon. Fermented fiber also supports the growth of healthy bacteria. One type of fatty acid produced during fermentation -- butyrate -- protects your digestive tract by preventing inflammation, according to a review published in March 2011 in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology."
Sugars May Cause Problems
Pears contain enough fructose and sorbitol to cause gas, cramps and diarrhea. Such a large percentage of the sugar in a pear consists of fructose that it may be an unfavorable choice for anyone with fructose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome. Pears are naturally high in sorbitol, a sweetener added to foods and beverages that is also found in some fruits. It may have a laxative impact and cause diarrhea.
Variables to Consider
To obtain the maximum amount of fiber, choose a fresh pear and eat it with the skin intact, because the insoluble fiber comes from the skin. On the other hand, a large proportion of soluble fiber is in the fleshy part under the skin. You'll get slightly less fiber and sugar if you consume canned pears, but only if you choose pears canned in natural juice. When they're canned in heavy syrup, the total amount of sugar -- and calories -- doubles.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- Carbohydrates in Human Nutrition: Physiological Effects of Dietary Fibre
- World Journal of Gastroenterology: Potential Beneficial Effects of Butyrate in Intestinal and Extraintestinal Diseases
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Fructose Malabsorption and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Guidelines for Effective Dietary Management
- Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology Clinic: Nutrition Hints for Sorbitol Malabsorption
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Nutrition Action Newsletter: Sweet Nothings: Not All Sweeteners Are Equal
- Linus Pauling Institute: Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pears, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: USDA Commodity Pears, Canned, Juice Pack, Drained
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pears, Canned, Heavy Syrup, Drained