Pears and Fiber
Pears are an excellent source of fiber, offering women a whopping 24% of their recommended daily intake of fiber! That’s great news, because most Americans have trouble achieving the recommended goals for fiber consumption.*Getting enough fiber on a daily basis is critical to maintaining health – from helping to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, healthy lipid profiles, stable blood sugar, and normal gastrointestinal (GI) function.
In order to tell the full story about the benefits of pear fiber, it’s helpful to understand what the different types of fiber are.
Total dietary fiber refers to plant cell wall components that our intestines can’t digest - this is actually a good thing. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber refers to the dietary fiber components that dissolve in water to form a gel-like material, while insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved and remains intact as it passes through the GI tract.
*Recommended intake is 25g fiber for women and 38g fiber for men. After 50, fiber needs decrease to 21g for women and 30g for men. (Source: American Dietetic Association).
The “Wow” Benefits of Fiber
Both soluble and insoluble types of fiber provide unique health benefits:
Soluble fiber plays a role in reducing cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol and helping to maintain healthy lipid profiles. Lipids are blood fats, mainly fatty acids and cholesterol, which are characterized by their size and chemical structure and influence on metabolism. Elevated levels of blood lipids are a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Soluble fiber has also been associated with lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation. While short-term inflammation is part of the body’s natural defenses and critical to healing from injuries or infections, it is not good for the body to remain in this state, known as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is extremely damaging and considered the root of many diseases including heart disease among others.
Soluble fiber also helps to slow the absorption of carbohydrates which may help people with diabetes in controlling their blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder affecting the body’s ability to secrete insulin and use blood sugar for energy. A key component of managing diabetes is to control blood sugar levels, and slower absorption of carbohydrates is very beneficial.
Insoluble fiber helps maintain a healthy GI tract by moving foods through the body efficiently. Fiber in general helps promote satiety, or a feeling of fullness, which can be helpful in weight loss or weight maintenance efforts. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has also been associated with a reduced risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Now here’s the beauty part: Pears contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber, offering a total of 6 grams of fiber in just one medium-size pear. That makes pears one of the top food choices for fiber. Just one pear each day gets you well on your way!