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There’s a misconception that those living with diabetes are unable to consume fruit. Fruits do contain some carbohydrates, which many living with diabetes may try to manage. But they also have many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can contribute to a healthy diet.

Fruits provide many health benefits for people with diabetes, though it’s important to keep in mind portions, your overall carbohydrate consumption, and the glycemic index of the food.

Pears can be very tasty and are a great fruit to eat if you have diabetes. Their nutritional benefits can actually help you manage the condition, as many studies indicate. Pears also have a low glycemic index, so they won’t raise your blood glucose too quickly.

You can eat pears if you have diabetes, as long as you keep your portions in mind and eat them along with other nutritious foods. Pears may satisfy your need for something sweet while also providing nutritional benefits.

General benefits of pears

Pears are a nutrient- and vitamin-rich food that have many health benefits, including:

  • fighting inflammation
  • serving as an antihyperglycemic
  • helping with digestion

There are more than a thousand types of pears, but you’re likely to see only a fraction of these available for sale. Some of the most popular types of pears for food consumption include:

  • Bartlett
  • Bosc
  • D’Anjou

Asian pears, which resemble the texture of apples, are another common type. Some foods labeled as “pears” aren’t actually part of the same genus. Prickly pear is a type of cactus. Balsam pear is also known as bitter melon.

On average, a person consumes almost three pounds of fresh pears annually.

Nutritional benefits of pears

According to the USDA FoodData Central database, a medium-sized pear contains:

  • 101 calories
  • 27 grams (g) of carbohydrates
  • 5.5 g of fiber (71 percent of the fiber is insoluble, and 29 percent is soluble)
  • 7.65 g of vitamin C
  • 206 milligrams (mg) of potassium

Pears also contain antioxidants, fructose, and sorbitol.

A significant amount of nutrition from pears is found on the skin. Peeling a pear can decrease phonologic and ascorbic acid by 25 percent.

Balsam pear, or bitter melon, isn’t a typical pear, but it may be of interest to those with diabetes because of certain health benefits. It contains the following vitamins:

  • C
  • A
  • E
  • B-1
  • B-2
  • B-3
  • B-9

It also has minerals like potassium, calcium, and zinc. The fruit contains 241 calories per 100 g.

Prickly pear cactus is fibrous and contains antioxidants and carotenoids.

Benefits for people with diabetes

There are many studies available linking health benefits to pears, particularly for those with diabetes or at risk for diabetes.

One study examined thousands of people with a risk of type 2 diabetes and found that foods rich in anthocyanin, including pears, lowered risk of type 2 diabetes.

The consumption of whole fruits versus other types of pear products may be key in maximizing their health benefits for those at risk for diabetes. A study found that consuming whole fruits, like pears, lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes as opposed to consuming them as juice.

Research on pear consumption among people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes found that eating apples and pears reduced the risk by 18 percent.

Consuming pears along with maintaining a healthy diet may help control early-stage diabetes as well.

One study found that Bartlett and Starkrimson pears could help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes when consumed as a whole fruit. The study connected the consumption of fruits to helping reduce the need for or dosage of diabetes medications in prediabetes and early diabetes stages.

Prickly pear and balsam pear

These plants aren’t part of the pear genus, but they’re referred to as “pear” and may be beneficial to those with diabetes.

Prickly pear is a cactus and known as a superfood by some. It may lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes, but there isn’t a significant amount of research available about these benefits currently.

Balsam pear may be useful to those with diabetes in lowering blood glucose levels, but researchers need to conduct more clinical studies to confirm its benefits.

The glycemic index (GI) can be a helpful tool to assess how a food with carbohydrates raises your glucose level. To maintain normal glucose levels, it’s important to try to consume foods that are on the low or medium spectrum of the GI as much as possible.

The GI measurement for specific foods depends on many factors, including how much fat and fiber they contain as well as the cooking method, ripeness, and processing of the food.

Pears and many other fruits are low on the GI. A medium-sized pear has a GI score of 30, while apples have a similar GI score at 36. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries have the lowest GI scores of all fruits, with one cup of each rated at 25.

Other single servings of fruits like peaches (56), bananas (52), and watermelon (72) rate as medium GI foods.

Fruit is just one part of a healthy diet if you have diabetes. You should make sure to incorporate other nutritious foods as part of your meal plan, including lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains.

A balanced diet that incorporates these items will help you get the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals you need.

Portion control is also very important for your diet. Keep serving sizes in mind as you decide how much to add to your plate at mealtime or before you select a snack.

Keeping your blood glucose levels healthy is key to managing diabetes, so stay away from foods that’ll spike these levels, like overprocessed foods and sweets.

You can incorporate pears into many different recipes. Here are a few pear recipes to try that work well in a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Pears in salad

This salad incorporates arugula, pears, walnuts, and pecorino cheese with a balsamic olive oil dressing. It would work well alongside a lean protein at lunch or dinner.

A serving contains 8 g of fat, 7 g of carbohydrates, and 2 g of protein. It also contains 170 mg of potassium and 50 mg of phosphorus.

Pears as an appetizer

You can enjoy two of these mini pear and goat cheese tarts for just 90 calories, 4 g of fat, 11 g of carbohydrates, and 3 g of protein.

These tarts would be a fun addition to a holiday spread or a great dish to take to a party.

Pears as a snack or dessert

Cinnamon roasted pears may fit the bill for a seasonal snack or dessert in fall or winter. You just need to toss walnuts, margarine, a brown sugar substitute, and cinnamon together and use this as a topping on halved pears.

You then roast these well-dressed pears in the oven for 45 minutes.

Prickly pear and balsam pear recipes

You may be interested in trying prickly pear in a recipe, and there are many versatile ways to cook the cactus for breakfast, dinner, and even beverages.

Balsam pear may cause some side effects, so talk to your doctor before cooking with it or consuming it in another form.

It’s important to keep your blood glucose levels stable if you have diabetes. You should make an appointment with your doctor or a nutritionist to discuss your diet if you notice spikes or dips in your blood sugar on a regular basis.

They can help you create a healthy diet plan that includes whole foods and specifies portions to regulate your blood sugar levels.

Pears are a delicious and natural food to incorporate into a healthy diet if you have diabetes. They may be able to prevent the onset of diabetes or even help you control early stages of the condition because of their nutritional content.

Keep the serving size in mind when you eat pears, and balance them with other healthy foods like lean proteins and vegetables to keep your blood glucose levels in a healthy range. You can enjoy pears as a whole fruit or incorporate them into recipes for meals and snacks.