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Pears and Your Health- A Perfect Pairing

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

September 30, 2020

Pears are native to Europe and West Asia and were introduced to North America in the 17th century. They have a unique taste that can complement a savory or sweet dish and come with an abundance of health benefits. A medium-sized pear (about 166 grams) contains just 90-100 calories. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and several phytochemicals like antioxidants.  

Pears and weight control

A study in Nutrition and Food Science published that people who consumed pears were 35 percent less likely to be obese and had a lower body weight than those who did not consume pears. The researchers suggested that this is probably due to the fiber intake of individuals who consume pears because fiber keeps us feeling fuller longer. 

Pears and gut health

Pears contain 71 percent insoluble fiber, and the remaining 29 percent is soluble fiber. The primary soluble fiber in pears is pectin, which has prebiotic properties. These properties promote good intestinal flora and contribute to intestinal health. 

Pears and phytochemicals

Pears are exceptionally high in several phytochemicals such as chlorogenic acid, quercetin, rutin, anthocyanins, and triterpenoids that give pears its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Other health benefits

Consumption of pears, apples, and green leafy vegetables is inversely associated with stroke risk. Additionally, anthocyanin-rich foods, particularly blueberries, apples, and pears, are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Picking the perfect pear

• Choose pears that look colorful and fresh with no bruises or holes.

• Check the neck for ripeness daily by applying gentle pressure to the pear’s stem end with your thumb. If it gives to gentle pressure, it is ripe.

How to store

• Store fresh pears in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

• Pears, which ripen from the inside out, do so best after picking from the tree. To ripen a pear, place it on a countertop, in a bowl

• To speed the ripening process, store unripe pears in a paper bag at room temperature. Note that if placed near apples, pears will ripen more quickly.

5 Fun facts

• Pears are a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family.

• Most of a pear’s fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants are found in their peel.

• The wood from a pear tree is one of the preferred materials in the manufacturing of high-quality woodwind instruments and kitchen utensils.

• To keep sliced pears from turning brown, dip them into a mixture containing one tablespoon of 100% apple juice and one cup water.

• Pears contain fructose and sorbitol, which have been linked to issues of diarrhea in children.

5 Ideas on how to include pears in your diet

• Add sliced pears to your salads.

• Add sliced pears on your pancakes.

• Add sliced pears to a brie grilled sandwich.

• Cut a pear in half and remove the core. Fill the center of each half with all-natural peanut butter or low-fat yogurt. Sprinkle with granola and cinnamon for a healthy snack.

• Bake or grill pears and use them as a topping for yogurt.

The recipe of the week comes via The Minimalistic Baker

Pear Balsamic Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts

Ingredients

Walnuts

1 heaping cup raw walnuts

2 tsp. olive or coconut oil

1 Tbsp. coconut sugar

2 tsp. maple syrup (or agave nectar)

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch ground cinnamon

1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium shallot, minced

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

Salad

1 six-ounce bag mixed greens (organic when possible)

1 ripe Bosc or Bartlett Pear (thinly sliced lengthwise // stem and seeds removed)

1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries, but cherries are best!)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and add raw walnuts to a bare or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Once the oven is preheated, toast walnuts for 7 minutes. Then remove from oven and add remaining ingredients directly to the walnuts (oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon, and cayenne – optional). Use a spatula to toss/combine the mixture thoroughly. Place back in oven and roast for another 4-6 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the dressing by adding all the ingredients to a jar (or mixing bowl) and shaking vigorously (or whisking) to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more balsamic for acidity, salt or pepper for flavor balance, or olive oil for creaminess. Set aside.

To serve, add greens, half of the sliced pear, dried cherries, and half of the roasted walnuts to a large mixing/serving bowl. Drizzle with a bit of the dressing and toss to combine. Plate and garnish with remaining pears and walnuts, and serve with remaining dressing. This dish is best when fresh, though leftovers can be stored separately in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store walnuts well-sealed at room temperature.

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