Soft and sweet, pears are a treat in themselves. Once called the “gift of the gods” by Homer, author of the Odyessy, pears are packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, making them a delicious but healthful snacking choice. Check out these five health benefits of pears for more good reasons to indulge in this sweet fruit.
Health Benefits of Pears
Fight Free Radicals
Pears are naturally high in vitamins C and K, as well as nutrients such as copper—all of which act as antioxidants to protect our cells from damage from free radicals. One pear contains up to 11 percent of our daily recommended intake of vitamin C and 9.5 percent of our daily recommended intake of copper. Pears are also said to have more nutrients per calorie than calorie per nutrient.
Protect Our Hearts
Pears are an excellent source of dietary fiber, and fiber is good for the heart. Studies have shown that fiber can lower levels of bad cholesterol by binding to bile salts—which are made from cholesterol—and carrying them out of the body. Eating pears can also reduce risk of stroke by up to 50 percent.
Pears can also protect us from varying types of cancer. In addition to binding to cholesterol, the fiber in pears can also bind to and help remove cancer-causing chemicals in the colon, thus reducing risk of colon cancer. Studies have also shown that eating fiber-rich fruits such as pears can reduce risk of break cancer by 34 percent in post-menopausal women.
Although few studies have been done on the subject, doctors generally consider pears to be a hypoallergenic fruit because they are less likely than other fruits to produce an allergic response when eaten. For this reason, pears are generally considered “safe” and are often one of the first fruits given to infants.
Because they are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, pears make a smart snack for those with diabetes. The bloodstream slowly absorbs a pear’s carbs (just about 26 grams per pear), preventing a spike in blood sugar and helping to control blood glucose levels. Lightly sweet, pears can also satisfy the sweet tooth in a healthier way than other sweets.
The typical pear season runs from August to October, but with so many varieties of pear, you’re likely to find some variety in season where you are. Pears ripen from the inside out, so to tell if your pear is ready to eat or not, check the neck (skinniest part of the pear) by applying gentle pressure. Along with apples, pears are part of the rose family, and like apples, many of the health benefits of pears can be found in the fruit’s skin—meaning for maximum health benefits, eat pears with the skin left on.
Dive into the delicious health benefits of pears with these pear recipes.
Sautéed Pears with Vanilla Whipped Cream
Roasted Pears with Lemon Verbena Syrup
Pear and Cranberry Crumble
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Pear Compote
Arugula, Pear, Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.