Pears And Bone Health

  • Victoria Iyeduala WASSCE/NECO, Sciences, School Of Secondary Education (I.C.E) Auchi

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Introduction 

Pears are tasty and juicy fruits. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colours. Like apples, pears are special fruits because they're loaded with nutrients your body loves.

Your bones need all the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and strong. Healthy bones carry your body weight, allow for easy movement, and protect your vital organs.

Apart from calcium and vitamin D, research indicates healthy bones need other nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, boron, copper, polyphenols, and dietary fibre which are present in pears.1 Read on to discover how adding pears to your diet can help nourish your bones with the necessary nutrients.

Nutritional content Of pears

One raw medium-sized (178g) pear contains the following nutrients necessary for optimal bone health:2,3,4

NutrientAmount
Calcium14.2mg
Phosphorus 17.8mg
Magnesium 10.1mg
Zinc0.125mg
Copper0.125mg
Potassium 155mg
Selenium0.356µg
Manganese 0.057mg
Iron0.303mg
Boron0.50mg
Vitamin C7.83mg
Vitamin A1.78µg
Vitamin K6.76µg
Water150g
Protein0.676g
Dietary Fibre5.52g
B vitaminsNeed to fill
Antioxidants Need to fill

Impact of pears on bone health

Although there are no specific studies linking pear consumption to bone health, pear contains nutrients that contribute to the maintenance of healthy bones.

Calcium

Calcium is a key nutrient for bone formation and development. It is the most abundant mineral in our bones. When your blood lacks enough calcium (calcium deficiency), your body takes it from your bones. The continual taking of calcium from your bones without replenishment can make them weak, soften, and easily break (osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets).5 Pears are a good source of calcium when paired with other calcium-rich foods in your diet.

Phosphorus

85% of the phosphorus in your body is found in your bones and teeth. It contributes to bone strength. Phosphorus deficiency can also cause osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets.6 Pears can add a good amount of phosphorus to your diet.

Magnesium

Pears contain magnesium, an essential mineral that plays a role in the regulation of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D. Parathyroid hormone and vitamin D are important contributors to healthy bone formation and development. Research suggests that magnesium deficiency may increase your risk of having osteoporosis.7

Zinc and boron 

Pears are a source of zinc and boron. Current research suggests that boron might be important for bone health. It might help reduce inflammation in osteoarthritis. Boron deficiency may lower bone mineral density by reducing calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D in the body.3 Zinc deficiency can also cause bone problems.8

Iron, copper and vitamin C

Iron, copper and vitamin C are the three nutrients that play a role in the formation of connective tissues.9,10,11 According to MedlinePlus, connective tissues support other tissues, like bone tissues and bind them together. Without these nutrients, you can experience connective tissue disorders which may cause joint pain and bone disorders. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant that combats and eliminates free radicals that are harmful to your body, including your bones. Pears are a good source of vitamin C and they also contain copper and iron.

Vitamin A

Pears contain vitamin A. According to the American Bone Health and the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation, your bones benefit from vitamin A because it influences the breaking down of old bone cells and the building up of new ones. This process helps you maintain strong and healthy bones.

Potassium 

Pears contain a generous amount of potassium. All the tissues, including bone tissues, in your body need potassium. When your body gets too little potassium (potassium deficiency), you may lose more calcium through urine. This can impair bone development and cause bone problems.12

Manganese

Pears are rich sources of manganese. Manganese is an essential nutrient you need in very small amounts. It is vital for many enzymatic activities, including bone formation. However, there is very little evidence to suggest that manganese deficiency causes bone demineralisation (removal of minerals from bone) and poor growth in children.13

Selenium  

Pears contain good amounts of selenium. Selenium is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism, and we need only small amounts of it daily.14 One thyroid hormone, calcitonin, helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood to prevent too much or too little of these nutrients.

Vitamin K

Matrix Gla-protein (MGP) and osteocalcin are vitamin K-dependent proteins present in your bones. This means that your body needs vitamin K to process these proteins. While researchers are trying to find out how MGP might help reduce abnormal calcification (the build-up of calcium in other body tissues causing them to harden), it is believed that osteocalcin contributes to bone mineralisation and density. Hence, vitamin K deficiency might affect bone mineralisation and increase your risk of having osteoporosis.15,16 Pears are a good source of vitamin K.

B Vitamins

Research suggests that B vitamins, especially B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin), may have protective functions in bone health.17 You can get vitamins B2, B6 and B9 from pears.

Protein

Pears contain protein, which is important for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones. In children and adolescents, protein enhances bone formation and development by facilitating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine and kidneys. Research indicates that where there's sufficient calcium intake, adequate protein intake is linked to higher bone mineral density, reduced rate of bone loss, and a lower chance of having hip fracture in older adults. (International Osteoporosis Foundation)

Dietary fibre

Pears have a higher amount of dietary fibre than most fruits. According to the University of California San Francisco Health (UCSFHealth), you should get 25 to 30g of dietary fibre from food daily. If you eat one fresh, medium-sized pear today, you have consumed 20 to 24% of the recommended daily amount. A fresh, medium-sized pear has about 6g of dietary fibre. Research indicates that dietary fibres enhance calcium absorption from your gut and lower the risk of osteoporosis.18

Water

All systems in your body need water to function well. All the nutrients your bones need are carried to them by the blood. The human blood plasma, which carries blood cells and nutrients, is 90% water.19  According to Research Outreach, the bone tissue contains 10 to 20% water and it is linked to bone strength and porosity. Raw pears have a high water content.

Antioxidants

Pears contain polyphenols (antioxidants) which help rid your body of free radicals that can cause damage. Free radicals are by-products of metabolic processes in the body or exposure to pollutants.20 

Incorporating pears into a bone-healthy diet

There are many ways you can enjoy pears in your diet. You can eat them fresh any time of the day. They're a healthy option for snacking. Why not create fresh pear juice and enjoy it with your meal? You can also add pear to your fruit and veggie salads. Even better, explore these 59 pear recipes from Delicious or check out these recipes from USAPears.

USAPears says that according to Dietary Guidelines for Americans if you eat two pears daily, you have fulfilled your daily fruit needs.

Potential allergies

You may be allergic to pear, especially if you're in Northern Europe and allergic to birch-pollen, apple, apricot, cherry, melon, banana, nuts (like hazelnut) or vegetables (like celery root and carrot). People with this allergy can tolerate cooked pear because heat kills the allergen (the substance that causes the allergy). Symptoms appear typically 5 to 15 minutes after eating raw pear and include itching, swelling and pain in the mouth and throat (oral allergy syndrome, OAS).

People, especially in the Mediterranean countries, who have peach, apple, apricot, plum, cherry, and nuts (like hazelnut and walnut) allergies may be allergic to pear. They can't eat pear in any state (raw, processed, or cooked) because the allergen survives food processing. In addition to OAS, more severe symptoms occur, such as:

  • Hives
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

(Manchester Academic Health Science Centre)

Check with your doctor to ensure you're not allergic to pear and that consuming pear won't interact with any of your current medications or worsen an existing health condition.

Summary

Your bones need to stay healthy to support your weight, enable you to move easily, and protect your body organs. Pears contain good amounts of water, dietary fibre, and many bone-loving nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and zinc. Eating two pears daily is reported to be enough to meet your daily fruit needs and may help you prevent arthritis, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets. Indulge your fancy – you can eat them raw, juice them, or create mouth-watering meals with them.

FAQs

Are pears healthier for bones than apples?

No. Pears and apples contain similar nutrients with slight variations in the amounts. Both are rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals that are good for your bones and general well-being.2,21

What are common varieties of pear?

Some common varieties of pear are:

  • Green Anjou
  • Red Anjou
  • Bartlett
  • Red Bartlett
  • Bosc
  • Comice
  • Concorde
  • Forelle
  • Seckel
  • Starkrimson
  • Williams
  • Conference 

(USAPears, British Apples & Pears)

References

  1. Osteoporosis Diet & Nutrition: Foods for Bone Health. Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/.
  2. FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/746773/nutrients.
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements - Boron [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Boron-HealthProfessional/.
  4. Palacios C. The role of nutrients in bone health, from A to Z. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006; 46(8):621–8.
  5. Office of Dietary Supplements - Calcium [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/.
  6. Office of Dietary Supplements - Phosphorus [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Phosphorus-HealthProfessional/.
  7. Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesium [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/.
  8. Office of Dietary Supplements - Zinc [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.
  9. Office of Dietary Supplements - Iron [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/.
  10. Office of Dietary Supplements - Copper [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Copper-HealthProfessional/.
  11. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin C [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/.
  12. Office of Dietary Supplements - Potassium [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/.
  13. Office of Dietary Supplements - Manganese [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Manganese-HealthProfessional/.
  14. Office of Dietary Supplements - Selenium [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/.
  15. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin K [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminK-HealthProfessional/.
  16. Moser SC, Eerden BCJ van der. Osteocalcin—A Versatile Bone-Derived Hormone. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2024 Jan 12]; 9:794. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6335246/.
  17. Dai Z, Koh W-P. B-Vitamins and Bone Health–A Review of the Current Evidence. Nutrients [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Jan 12]; 7(5):3322–46. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4446754/.
  18. Wallace TC, Marzorati M, Spence L, Weaver CM, Williamson PS. New Frontiers in Fibers: Innovative and Emerging Research on the Gut Microbiome and Bone Health. Journal of the American College of Nutrition [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Jan 12]; 36(3):218–22. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07315724.2016.1257961.
  19. What does blood do? In: InformedHealth.org [Internet] [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2019 [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279392/.
  20. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2024 Jan 12]; 4(8):118–26. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/.
  21. FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 12]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1750340/nutrients.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Victoria Iyeduala

WASSCE/NECO, Sciences, School Of Secondary Education (I.C.E) Auchi

Victoria is a health and wellness writer who spends her days creating audience-satisfying content for health brands to build a loyal reader base and hit prime marketing goals. She has years of experience in health content writing and has written dozens of articles and blogs, with many ranking high on search engine result pages for multiple keywords. She has a passion for health education and healthcare, which fuels her drive to become a healthcare professional against all odds.

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