The Perfect Pear

Pears come in a number of varieties – Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, Asian – and have such different flavor profiles that they can seem unrelated at first. But the one thing all varieties of pears have in common is how nutritious they are! [iii]

 

Pear Nutrition

For starters, pears are an excellent source of fiber. The suggested daily requirement is 25-30 grams per day. A medium sized pear has about 6 grams of fiber, which is 24% of that recommendation [i][ii].

A diet high in fiber has been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer, and there is strong scientific evidence that fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing esophageal, stomach, and lung cancers, among others [iv].

Pears are also a good source of soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. In fact, two medium size pears has enough soluble fiber to reduce cholesterol levels by two percent. The skin of the pear contains the majority of the fiber though, so it’s important to eat both the skin and the white, fleshy inside together whenever you can [vii].

Pears are also rich in vitamin C (10% of daily value), which is widely well-known for its antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is essential for normal cell metabolism, repair of the body’s tissues, improved immune function, and proper healing of cuts, wounds, and bruises. It’s also shown to be protective against diabetes as well as age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, pears house quite a few phytonutrients (including antioxidants specifically), which are thought to aid in protecting against the onset of certain chronic diseases like heart disease and various cancers [v][vi][ix].

It’s important to note, however, that most of the phytonutrients and antioxidants found in pears tend to cluster in their vibrantly colored skins. As such, it’s important to not only choose a mix of varieties and colors in order to accumulate all added benefits they off, but to eat the whole fruit (as mentioned above!) as well.

 

Cook Them

While pears are lovely all on their own, they are also excellent in a variety of dishes. Their crunchiness makes them nice in salads, their sweetness complements meats and pungent cheeses, and their flavor and texture go perfectly with in sauces and baked goods.

Below is one of our favorite fruit crumble recipes, featuring pears. I rotate this recipe out throughout the year, subbing berries during the summer, apples during the fall, pears during the winter, and strawberries and rhubarb in the spring. It’s extremely versatile and always a hit. And the best part is super simple to make. Enjoy!

Pear Crumble
Ingredients
  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
  2. 2 cups quick cooking oats
  3. 2 cups brown sugar (you can do a blend of brown and white as well)
  4. 2 cups all purpose flour
  5. 4 cups pears (sliced)*
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter a 9×13 baking dish.
  3. Mix the oats, sugar, and flour together. Sift well.
  4. Cutter the butter up into small pieces. Reserve 1/2 – 1/3 of a stick and set aside.
  5. Mix butter well with all the dry ingredients. (I usually like to get in there with my hands.)
  6. Line the bottom of the pan with all your pears, spreading them out evenly.
  7. Pour the entire crumble mixture on top.
  8. Cut remaining portion of butter up into small pieces and place evenly (as best you can) across the top of the crumble mixture.
  9. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until top is golden brown and fruit is bubbling along the edges of pan.
  10. Great served with a bit of ice cream or frozen yogurt!
Notes
  1. I like to keep the skins on about half the pears to help retain some of the nutrients and phytochemicals that the skins offer. But you get a moister, juicier product if you peel the pears and only use the white flesh. I recommend experimenting to see what you like best!
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References
[i] Sugar, J. Forget apples: why you should be eating a pear a day. Popsugar. Accessed at: http://www.fitsugar.com/Health-Benefits-Pears-5144004
[ii] Fiber. USA Pears. Accessed at: http://www.usapears.com/Facts%20And%20Nutrition/Healthy%20Choice/Pear%20Nutrition%20Facts/Fiber.asp
[iii] Falling for pears. Whole Foods Market. Accessed at: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/falling-pears
[iv] Slavin, J.L., Lloyd, B. (2012). Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr., 3(4):506-516.
[v] Harrison F.E. A critical review of vitamin C for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. (2012). J Alzheimers Dis, 29(4):711-26.
[vi] Harding AH, Wareham NJ, Bingham SA, et al. Plasma vitamin C level, fruit and vegetable consumption, and the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus: the European prospective investigation of cancer–Norfolk prospective study.Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(14):1493-1499.
[vii] Brown, L., Rosner, B., Willett, W.W., Sacks, F.M.(1999). Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr, 69(1);30-42.
[viii]Steinmetz, K.A., Potter, J.D. (1996). Vegetables, Fruit, and Cancer Prevention: A Review. J Am Diet Assoc, 96:1027-1039.
[ix] MacKay D, Miller AL. (2003). Nutritional support for wound healing. Altern Med Rev, 8(4):359-77.
[x] Martin C, Zhang Y, Tonelli C, Petroni K. Plants, diet, and health. (2013). Annu Rev Plant Biol, 64:19-46.
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