Pears have been enjoyed for centuries for their great taste and purported health benefits. They are one of the most versatile fruits that can be part of savory or sweet recipes and for all meals or snacks. To get all the amazing health benefits that pears have to offer, you need to eat the whole pear, as the colorful skin is where many of the fruit’s antioxidants are concentrated.
If you only think of pears during the holiday season when your employer or clients send you a fruit basket, you are missing out on some important health and nutritional benefits. Here are four reasons why this popular tree fruit should be on your shopping list all year round.
In addition to their great taste, pears are packed with nutrients. A medium pear is a good source of vitamin C and an excellent source of fiber with six grams per 100 calories of medium pear. Pears also contain some blood pressure-lowering potassium, vitamin K, copper, magnesium and B vitamins. Pears are also rich in many bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins, which also provide numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic disease.
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 the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers reported an 18% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes in those who reported enjoying the most apples and pears versus those who ate the least . For every pear you eat during the week, you can reduce your risk of diabetes by about three percent. Adding a pear a day to your healthy eating plan would provide an estimated 21% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes! Pears are thought to have antidiabetic properties due to their beneficial phytonutrients.
Pears, especially those with colorful skins, provide beneficial phytonutrients such as flavonoids. Flavonoids are known to help moderate inflammation by neutralizing free radicals. Flavonoids may also help improve blood vessel health and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Other studies suggest that flavonoids help reduce the symptoms and risk of asthma and many other conditions related to premature aging.
A medium pear has only 100 calories and packs in six grams of filling fiber or about a quarter of your recommended daily fiber intake. The advantage of all that fiber is that it makes you feel full for longer. In a 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 any other dietary changes.
Pears are a delicious and healthy addition to anyone’s diet. They are also so versatile that they go well with savory or sweet dishes. Enjoy fresh, roasted or poached, as a salad topper, on a sandwich or in a smoothie.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSA
Julie Upton is an award-winning registered dietitian and communications specialist who has authored thousands of articles for national media, including The New York Times, US News & World Report, and USA Today. read more