Our advice to eat seasonally is at it’s most challenging in winter. But you will find plenty of pears, a homegrown superfood, on the shelves and in your box schemes. We have long been meaning to write about the fruit featured in our logo, so please read on.
While apples have always been popular in the UK, the first pear pops up way down on the list of the most popular fruits, in 32nd place. Yes, they say that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but pears don’t need to hide their light under a bushel either. They taste as good, if not better, as their rounder-shaped relative and can be made into cakes, puree, or juice in exactly the same way.
A gentle food
Pears have a reputation for being extraordinarily well-tolerated. One reason is that they are easy to digest and the perfect gentle food for babies as well as adults who are sensitive to acid. Pears contain only about 3g of acid per kilogram, while apples contain 4-15g. Their low acidity also makes pears gentler to tooth enamel than many other popular fruits such as citrus. The fruit is also said to be hypoallergenic, i.e., it rarely causes allergic reactions even in people otherwise prone to allergies. We could find little scientific evidence for that but have read it in different places, so it may be conventional wisdom.
There is one caveat, though: Pears contain less acid and slightly more fructose than apples, as well as the sugar alcohol sorbitol. That makes the fruit so wonderfully sweet, but sorbitol can cause diarrhoea and flatulence in sensitive people if you eat too much of it.
Sorbitol aside, pears are excellent for digestion. Just one pear provides 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake of dietary fibre. Fibre stimulates the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, making it easier to digest food.
Nutritionists often suggest pears as a remedy for digestive problems as they can help regulate bowel movements. One type of fibre pears (and apples) contain is pectin. Pectin stimulates digestion and is particularly helpful in cases of bacterial diarrhoea. Pectin binds the liquid in the intestine and the toxins secreted by bacteria. As it absorbs the liquid, the fibre swells and thickens the stool.
If that wasn’t enough, pectin has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. This is because pectin additionally mops up bile acids in the gut and thus help their excretion. As a result, the body uses up more cholesterol to replace those bile acids, of which cholesterol is a component. As a result, cholesterol levels drop. The polyphenols – plant nutrients – pears contain also help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Pears are also a good source of potassium. This mineral dilates the blood vessels and thus lowers blood pressure, another way in which pears protect from cardiovascular diseases.
(Take medical advice if you have kidney disease, as this affects your ability to regulate potassium and too much fruit may not be advisable).
Because of their low acid and fat content, pears are especially recommended for people with stomach problems. An excessive amount of bile acid in the intestine can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer or other intestinal problems. As the pectin in pears reduces the amount of bile acid in the intestines, it may help reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Moreover, pectin has been found to induce apoptosis – cell suicide – of damaged and potentially cancerous cells.
Pears are an excellent source of many vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin C (7% of the daily requirement), vitamin E and various B vitamins, including vitamin B1 (thiamine) and folic acid, which promotes blood formation. B vitamins are needed to create the “happiness hormone” serotonin – so it’s not only the delicious taste of pears that may give you a rush of joy.
Two of the fat-soluble vitamins pears contain – A and E – help keep our skin supple. Vitamin C is a co-factor for collagen – connective tissue – formation. Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants found in pears fight free radicals. They counteract premature skin ageing and the formation of wrinkles and age spots and prevent hair loss. As with almost all fruits, the vitamins of the pear are located under the skin. It is therefore advisable to eat them with their skin on.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, those antioxidants our skin loves, also protect the eyes from antioxidant damage, preventing cataracts.
Healthy into winter – Immune Defence
Autumn and winter are the peak season for colds and flu. Thanks to the high nutrient content of pears, the fruit is perfect and perfectly timed to counteract infections. What’s more, the fruit is easy to freeze, make into juice or compote, or preserve, so you can benefit from its virtues all winter.
Pear juice is said to have a soothing effect on coughs, and you can strengthen your immune system with a smoothie.
Pear & Ginger Smoothie
- 2 ripe and juicy pears, e.g. Williams, roughly chopped
- 1 Orange, peeled, with a little of the white pith still on (it contains an additional antioxidant: limonene)
- ½ lemon, peeled, with a little of the white pith still on
- 2cm thumb ginger, chopped
- 250 ml of water or fruit tea
This smoothie is bursting with immune helpers – and it tastes lovely, too!
The pear is a prime example to show that we do not always have to reach for exotic ‘superfoods’, shipped halfway around the planet. Some grow on our very own doorstep. It’s easy to see why we thought this humble, homegrown fruit deserved pride of place as part of our logo.
If you are interested in eating more sustainably, why not book our webinar, Health and Sustainability
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