Benefits of Pears
1. What is Pears
Pears are actually higher in pectin than apples. This makes them effective in helping to lower cholesterol levels and in toning the intestines. They are often recommended by health care practitioners as a hypoallergenic fruit that is high in fiber. They are less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits. Pears are often recommended as a safe fruit to introduce to infants. Pears are an extraordinary source of dietary fiber when the skin is eaten along with the flesh. Pears are also an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin E, both powerful antioxidants and essential nutrients.
Pears are a member of the rose family of plants (Rosaceae), which, in addition (of course) to roses, contains a long list of fruits including apples, apricots, cherries, chokeberry, crabapples, loquats, peaches, plums, quinces, raspberries, serviceberries, and strawberries as well as the tree nut, almonds. The many different varieties of pears commonly found in U.S. groceries all belong to the same category known as European Pear (Pyrus communis). These pears typically have a rounded body that tapers into a neck of various lengths.
There is some debate about the exact origins of the European pear, but many experts believe that European pears (Pyrus communis) and Asian pears (both Pyrus pyrifolia and Pyrus ussuriensis) evolved separately and during the same approximate time in history (roughly 1000 BC). Certain species of pear are also native to parts of Africa.
4. Antioxidant and AntiInflammatory Support
While pears are not an unusual source of conventional antioxidant or antiinflammatory nutrients (for example, vitamin E or omega3 fatty acids), the phytonutrient category is where this fruit excels. For example, in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (1,638 participants, average age range 6269 years), the combination of apples/pears ranked as the second highest source of flavonols among all fruits and vegetables partly due to the epicatechin richness of pears. Average flavonol intake in the study was about 14 milligrams per day, and one pear can provide about half of this amount all by itself.
5. Reduced Cancer Risk
The health benefits of pear fiber also extend into the area of cancer risk. Fiber from pear can bind together not only with bile acids as a whole, but also with a special group of bile acids called secondary bile acids. Excessive amounts of secondary bile acids in the intestine can increase our risk of colorectal cancer (as well as other intestinal problems). By binding together with secondary bile acids, pear fibers can help decrease their concentration in the intestine and lower our risk of cancer development. In the case of stomach cancer (gastric cancer), intake of pears has also been shown to lower cancer risk.
6. Other Health Benefits
Its become fairly common to hear both laypersons and healthcare practitioners talking about pear as one of the more easily digested fruits. In fact, many practitioners recommend that pear be one of the first fruits considered when it comes time to introducing an infant to his or her first pureed fruits. Even though we have been unable to find largescale human studies to support these digestibility claims, we dont question the fact that easier digestion has been experienced by many individuals in the context of pears versus other fruits. One factor that may come into play here is the low acid nature of pears, especially in comparison to widely enjoyed citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges.
7. How to Select
Pears are very perishable once they are ripe, the pears you find at the market will generally be unripe and will require a few days of maturing. Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. They should have a smooth skin that is free of bruises or mold. The color of good quality pears may not be uniform as some may feature russetting where there are brownspeckled patches on the skin; this is an acceptable characteristic and oftentimes reflects a more intense flavor. Avoid pears that are punctured or have dark soft spots.
8. How to Store
If you will not be consuming the pears immediately once they have ripened, you can place them in the refrigerator where they will remain fresh for a few days. If you want to hasten the ripening process, place them in a paper bag, turning them occasionally, and keep them at room temperature. Storing pears in sealed plastic bags or restricted spaces where they are in too close proximity to each other should be avoided since they will have limited exposure to oxygen, and the ethylene gas that they naturally produce will greatly increase their ripening process, causing them to degrade. Pears should also be stored away from other strong smelling foods, whether on the countertop on in the refrigerator, as they tend to absorb smells.
9. Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Fresh pears are delicious eaten as is after gently washing the skin by running it under cool water and patting it dry. Since their skin provides about half of the pears total dietary fiber as well as its antioxidant and antiinflammatory phytonutrients,, it is best to not peel the fruit but eat the entire pear. To cut the pear into pieces, you can use an apple corer, cutting from the fruits base to remove the core, and then cutting it into the desired sizes and shapes. Once cut, pears will oxidize quickly and turn a brownish color. You can help to prevent this by applying several drops of lemon, lime or orange juice to the flesh.
10. Individual Concerns
Pears are not a commonly allergenic food, not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines and also not included in the Environmental Working Groups 2012 report Shoppers Guide to Pesticides as one of the 12 foods most frequently containing pesticide residues.
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