We finally made it to the official first day of summer, so I figure it’s time to talk about summer fruits. So, how about them pears?
Did you know that one medium-sized pear has as much vitamin C and potassium as a half glass of orange juice? In fact, pears contain 30 percent more of the all-important potassium than their cousin the apple. Pears are a nutritional powerhouse offering, along with potassium, high levels of vitamin E, boron, vitamin B2 and fibre. They’re also a good source of copper, pectin (soluble fibre), zinc, sulphur, phosphorous, magnesium, iodine and vitamin A.
The vitamin C in the fruit is mostly concentrated in the skin, so it’s important to eat the fruit unpeeled. Plus the skin increases the amount of fibre you’re getting.
Pears also contain important phyto-chemicals like quercetin and catechins. Quercetin, an antioxidant flavanoid found in many fruits and vegetables, has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the lungs, breast, prostate, liver, and colon as well as inhibiting the growth of some harmful bacteria. Catechins, most famous for being the cancer-fighting compound found in green tea, have also been found to increase the loss of belly fat if taken in conjunction with exercise. Catechins are also antioxidants and they have been found to have heart-protective capabilities in cases in which disease puts strain on the heart muscle such as with high blood-pressure.
Vitamin C and copper, both found in abundance in pears, are both considered antioxidant nutrients, as they play a protective role in the body by scavenging free radicals that could otherwise do microscopic damage to the cells. Vitamin C works in all the water-soluble areas of the body while copper is an essential component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
Pears are also considered to be a hypoallergenic fruit, meaning that they are very unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. In fact, pears are often recommended as one of the first fruits to introduce to infants transitioning to solid foods.
Overall, pears are an alkalinizing nutrient-dense food. They contain nutrients that help maintain our heartbeats, muscle contractions and nerve transmission. Although pears get the reputation for being a high-sugar fruit, (partly due to the fact that pear juice is used as a natural sweetener in many processed foods), the fibre in pears helps to control the absorption of glucose. Eating sufficient fibre makes one less likely to suffer sudden changes in blood glucose levels, which can lead to weight gain, hypoglycemia and diabetes.
So later in the summer, when you start to see delicious pears show up in farmers markets, pick up a bunch for the family.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.