Even though pears (or pear trees at least) are immortalized in that classic holiday tune involving a partridge and a stream of nerve-wracking repetition, the actual pear is an often-overlooked fruit this time of year. We celebrate the bounty of fall with apples and pumpkins in all forms of delicious eats, but too often forget those tasty pears.
Apple pies, apple butter and apple dumplings abound in kitchens across the nation during the fall and winter seasons, but whatever you can do with an apple you can do with a pear, if not better. Pears might not rank high on your list of go-to fruits, but you may not realize that they turn out mighty tasty poached, sautéed, roasted, grilled, preserved or baked into all sorts of goodies. Not to mention that they boast an almost dessert-like quality when you sink your teeth into a fresh, raw, organic one. Delish.
If you needed more reasons to add this juicy fruit to your diet, these five health benefits will have you reaching for pears again and again.
1. Help Lower Cholesterol
We all know eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies offers tons of nutritional benefits, but did you know that some produce, including pears, can actually help lower cholesterol? Pears contain heart-healthy soluble fiber, a nutrient that can reduce the absorption of LDL or “bad” cholesterol into the bloodstream. Apples, prunes, beans and oatmeal are also high in dietary fiber.
2. Boost the Immune System
Are you feeling those “oh no” symptoms coming on? You know the ones... stuffy nose, sore throat, cough. You might be catching a cold. Before it gets too far underway, eat a pear. Yep, you heard right, a pear, not an orange (although an orange wouldn’t hurt either).Like oranges, pears are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that boost the immune system.
3. Super Hydrating
We all recognize pears for their incredible juiciness. That sumptuous feeling when you bite into a juicy pear is because they boast a high water content. The water content for fresh pears stands at a whopping 84 percent, according to the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Eating these babies regularly will keep your thirst quenched.
4. Aid Digestion
The same fiber found in pears that helps lower cholesterol also aids digestion. In nice terms, pears essentially keep our plumbling working properly. You can thank the pectin, a component of dietary fiber, in them for that one.
5. They’re Hypoallergenic
If you have issues with food sensitivities, you can pretty much bet that pears are a safe choice. We know it's a pain in today’s processed, fast food-driven world for those with gluten, soy, dairy or other food allergies. Pears are a nutritious option for those with food sensitivities—without any adverse effects. They’re even safe to feed to little ones.
Don’t peel your pears. Most of the health benefits are locked in the skin. For maximum nutrition, eat ‘em raw, too.
image: Fab:o Fo:s
Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson