The National Pear Month has potentially good news for those who are trying to shed the extra pounds: juicy, sweet pears might be key in lowering body weight and fighting obesity.

A new study published in the journal Nutrition and Food Science found that adults who consumed pears had a lower body weight than non-pear eaters, as well as were 35 percent less likely to become obese. It also revealed a wealth of new information into the health benefits of this fruit.

The study led by Carol O’Neil of the Louisiana State University used nine years' worth of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which involved over 24,000 subjects 19 years old and above. It examined the link between fresh pear intake to nutrient levels, quality of diet and cardiovascular risk factors.

O’Neil considers the association between pear consumption and reduced body weight very exciting.

“We believe fiber intake may have driven the lower body weights that were seen in this study,” she said, noting there was no difference in energy intake or physical activity level found between the pear group and non-pear group.

Despite the pear eaters and non-eaters consuming the same calorie amounts, the research team found that pear consumers had lower body weight and less risk of obesity, and were older in general, consumed less alcohol and smoked fewer cigarettes. They also have better-quality diet, with higher fiber and overall vitamin intake and lower intake of fatty acids and added sugars.

Consuming a single medium fresh pear a day positively affected nutrient intake, since pear consumers had higher-than-average intake of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper and other nutrients. A fresh pear, at just less than 100 calories, already provides around 24 percent of the daily fiber requirement. It is also free of sodium, cholesterol, and fat.

Fiber is of particular importance: it assists in digestion and helps one feel fuller longer, thus assisting in staving off food cravings and losing weight.

Research also notes the role of fiber – found in other foods such as raspberries, artichokes, lentils and whole grains – in helping reduce risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

According to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fruit consumers are likely to decrease their risk for leading chronic conditions – although more studies need to emerge on these positive results from fruit consumption, including pears.

Americans also need to jumpstart a fruit-eating habit, as only 2 percent of them eat pears.

Photo: Apple and Pear Australia Limited | Flickr

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