The pear is native to Asia and comes in many different varieties. This relative of the apple has a soft texture and a deliciously sweet taste, so it is no wonder it so popular.
Pears are nutritional powerhouses.
Let's take a look at their health benefits.
Pears are high in antioxidants, which help fight the effects of oxidative stress. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “oxidative stress is the total burden placed on organisms by the constant production of free radicals in the normal course of metabolism plus whatever other pressures the environment brings to bear (natural and artificial radiation, toxins in air, food and water; and miscellaneous sources of oxidizing activity, such as tobacco smoke).” Oxidative stress is often linked to chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.
The wide variety of phytonutrients in pears provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. They are especially high in a specific type of phytonutrients called flavonoids, a Baltimore longitudinal study confirms. The study showed that a combination of apples and pears ranked second highest amongst all fruits and vegetables in flavonoids. These potent anti-inflammatory agents help reduce chronic inflammation, which is a major factor for several serious diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Pears are an excellent source of fiber, which is believed to be important for cancer prevention. Dietary fiber binds with bile and removes it from the intestines. When there is excess bile, the risk of colon cancer is greatly increased. By controlling the levels of bile, pears help reduce the risk of cancer. A study in Mexico City showed that polyphenols in fruits like pears helped reduce the risk of gastric cancer. Pears may also lower the risk of esophageal cancer, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health and the American Association of Retired Persons.
When the fiber in pears binds with bile acids, it also reduces the production of cholesterol. It is important to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol when it comes to heart health. The American Heart Association explains, “High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors (such as high blood pressure or diabetes) as well as high cholesterol, this risk increases even more. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease.”
According to the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, pears have water ranging from 83-88 percent, depending on the species.
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