The pears you’ll find in the grocery store often aren’t ripe because they’re picked before they mature. If you keep them at room temperature, they continue to ripen as their starch turns into sugar. By the time you bite into the sweet, juicy fruit, the starch that remains is a complex carbohydrate that puts energy in your step and a gives you a boost of vitamin C.
Plants store sugar in the form of starch, so you can expect to find it in varying and usually small amounts in fruits. Starch is a complex carbohydrate made from several hundred to many thousands of molecules of sugar connected together into a chain. When you eat starch, it’s broken down into the simple sugar glucose, which the cells in your body are able to use for energy. If you don’t need that energy input, some glucose may be stored in the muscles and liver as backup energy and the rest is stored as fat.
Starch in Pears
As fruits go, pears are in the middle when it comes to the amount of starch they contain. One medium pear has 4.25 grams of starch. To give you an idea of how that compares to other fruits, consider the percentage of each fruit's total carbohydrate that comes from starch. Sixteen percent of the pear's total carbohydrates consists of starch; in a banana, it's 35 percent, while strawberries have 10 percent and 7 percent of an apple's carbohydrates is starch.
One medium pear has 27.11 grams of total carbohydrates, which includes 17.36 grams of sugar and 5.5 grams of fiber. The fiber you’ll get from eating a pear is a combination of both types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is the ingredient that moderates the effect of the pear’s sugar by slowing its absorption into your system, which keeps your blood sugar better balanced. Insoluble fiber keeps your digestive tract regular and may help prevent some gastrointestinal problems. Women should get 25 grams of fiber in their daily diet. Eating just one medium pear provides 22 percent of your daily intake.
One tool you can use to evaluate the starch and sugar in a pear is the glycemic index, which was created to show the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar. Foods are given a score from 0 to 100, which indicates how high they cause blood sugar levels to increase. Low glycemic foods have a score of 55 or lower. They change blood sugar more gradually, which lowers the chance of developing insulin resistance and diabetes. Pears have a glycemic index of 33 to 42, depending on the type of pear.
- Oregon State University: Starch
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Pears, Raw
- WomensHealth.gov: Carbohydrates
- Elmhurst College: Starch
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way
- University of Sydney: Search for the Glycemic Index
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.