Pears have been enjoyed for centuries for their great taste and purported health benefits. They’re one of the most versatile fruits that can be part of savory or sweet recipes and for all meal or snack occasions. To obtain all of the amazing health benefits pears have to offer, be sure to eat the whole pear as the colorful skin is where many of the fruit’s antioxidants are concentrated.
If you only think about pears during the holidays when your employer or clients send you a fruit basket, you’re missing out on some significant health and nutritional benefits. Here are four reasons why this popular tree fruit should be on your shopping list all year long.
In addition to their great taste, pears are nutrient-packed. A medium pear is a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of fiber with six grams per 100-calorie, medium-sized pear. Pears also pack in some blood pressure-lowering potassium, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, and B-vitamins. Pears are also rich in many bioactive compounds, like anthocyanins, that also provide myriad health benefits, including reducing the risk for chronic diseases.
It’s true. Pears are considered a low glycemic index food, thanks in part to their high fiber content. What’s more, a study reported in Food and Function analyzed the association between apple and pear consumption on risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers reported an 18% reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes among those who reported enjoying the most apples and pears versus individuals who ate the least. For every pear you eat during the week, may reduce your risk for diabetes by about three percent. Adding a pear a day to your healthy eating plan would provide an estimated 21% reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes! Pears are thought to provide antidiabetic properties through their beneficial phytonutrients.
Pears, especially those with colorful skins, provide beneficial phytonutrients like flavonoids. Flavonoids are known to help temper inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. Flavonoids may also help improve vascular health and reduce the risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Other studies suggest flavonoids help lower symptoms and risk associated with asthma and many other conditions that are linked to premature aging.
A medium pear has just 100 calories and packs in six grams of filling fiber or about a quarter of your recommended daily fiber intake. The benefit of all that fiber is that it helps keep you satisfied longer. In one 12-week study reported in the journal Nutrition, women were divided into three groups. One group added three apples to their diet, one added three pears daily and the third added three low-fat oat cookies. The study found that the women who enjoyed apples or pears lost nearly two pounds in 12 weeks, without making other diet changes.
Pears are a delicious and healthy addition to anyone’s diet. They’re also so versatile they go with savory or sweet foods. Enjoy them fresh, roasted, or poached, as a salad topper, on a grilled cheese sandwich, or in a smoothie.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
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