Pears are delicious and sweet pomaceous fruits with juicy flesh. The fruit is the upper end of the flower stalk and is typically narrow at the top (stem) and wider at the bottom. Some pears are shaped just like apples. The appearance of the flesh inside the skin is also similar to apples, although it is a slightly grittier in consistency, due to the presence of stone cells. This is one of the most obvious differences between the two fruits, apart from the taste. Pears originated in China and are native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia, and there is an evidence of them being consumed since prehistoric times. Pears have been a part of many diets for thousands of years, and have been found in Celtic literature, Roman history, and Chinese lore. They can grow easily in places with temperate, cool climates that make them very versatile and easy to cultivate.
Benefits of pear
- Improve Digestion – Fruits like pears are extremely great sources of dietary fiber. While a single serving of pears provides 18% of the daily requirement for fiber intake, they can be a very strong agent for improving digestive health too. Most of the fiber in pears is a non-soluble polysaccharide (NSP), which means that it acts as a bulking agent in the intestines. This fiber accumulates the food and adds bulk so it is easier for the food to pass through the intestines. Furthermore, it stimulates secretion of gastric and digestive juices. It also regulates bowel movements and reduces the chances of constipation, as well as diarrhea and loose stool. Also, the gritty nature of pear fiber helps it bind to cancer-causing agents and free radicals in the colon and protect the organ from their damaging effects.
- Weight Loss – One of the complaints that some people have about various fruits is the calorie content, mainly derived from natural sugars. However, pears are one of the lowest-calorie fruits; an average pear has just over 100 calories, which is 5% of daily calorie allowance of a healthy diet. However, the nutritional supplementation they give is immense, and the fiber makes one feel full. This is confirmed by a study published in the journal, Appetite. Therefore, people trying to lose weight often turn to pears to get the most bang for their buck.
- Antioxidant Activity – Like many other fruits, pears are a wealth of antioxidants like vitamin C that combat various diseases and conditions within the body. A 2003 research on the antioxidant activity of pear has revealed that pear fruits contain a remarkable amount of vitamin C. Antioxidants work to eliminate the free radicals that accumulate in the body following cellular metabolism. These free radicals mutate healthy cell DNA into cancerous cells and can cause a number of other devastating conditions. Therefore, antioxidant components of vitamin C, vitamin A, and flavonoid compounds like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which are found in pears, can help rid the body of free radicals.
- Anticancer Potential – Antioxidants are primarily praised for their anti-carcinogenic activities, and pears, being a houseful of antioxidants, have been connected to prevention of cancer. Group of researchers led by Dr. Margaret E. Wright found that intake of pears was inversely linked to risk of lung cancer in men. Another study published in International Journal of Cancer found that fruits like pears may help lower lung cancer risk. However, more scientific studies and research is required to support the anticancer benefits.
- Boost Immunity – Pears are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C that are beneficial for stimulating white blood cell production. They have also been known to boost the immune system, which helps to eliminate conditions like common cold, flu, and other mild illnesses.
- Improve Heart Health – Fruits like pears may aid in lowering the risk of stroke. Pears are also a wonderful source of potassium, which means that they can have a significant impact on heart health because potassium is a well-known vasodilator. This means that it lowers blood pressure, which reduces strain on the entire cardiovascular system and makes it harder for clots to form or harm you. Furthermore, it increases blood flow to all parts of the body, which oxygenates the organs and promotes their effective function. Lower blood pressure is also connected to a lower chance of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Potassium also works as a fluid regulator in the body, meaning that it keeps the body hydrated, and ensures the balance of essential fluids in the cells and organs. Without potassium, many of our essential functions would be either slowed down or stopped altogether.
- Speed up Healing – Vitamin C is also an essential part of synthesizing new tissue in various organs and cellular structures of the body. This keeps the body’s metabolism running smoothly and ensures that all functions operate properly. Furthermore, wound healing is sped up with high levels of ascorbic acid, which pears do provide. It also helps to repair damaged blood vessels, which reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system and prevents certain heart diseases from developing.
- Improve Circulation – For patients suffering from anemia or other mineral deficiencies, pears can be very helpful, due to a high content of copper and iron in them. Copper facilitates and improves the uptake of minerals into the system, and increased levels of iron mean that the red blood cell synthesis increases. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, and anemia is another name for iron deficiency. One can prevent fatigue, cognitive malfunction, muscle weakness, and organ system malfunction by consuming foods high in iron and copper, both of which are found in significant amounts in pears.
- Prevent Birth Defects – Folates are another valuable nutritional components of pears. Folic acid has been positively correlated with a reduction in neural tube defects in newborns. So eating folate-rich fruits like pears can protect the health and happiness of the baby, a major reason why pregnant women are encouraged to monitor their folic acid levels.
- Reduce Inflammation – The antioxidant and flavonoid components of pears can induce anti-inflammatory effects in the body, reducing the pain associated with inflammation. This includes the reduction in symptoms of arthritis, rheumatic conditions, gout, and similar conditions.
- Improve Bone Health – The high mineral content of pears includes magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, and copper. These aid in reducing bone mineral loss and debilitating conditions like osteoporosis and the general weakness of the body due to lack of support from the bones.
- Skin & Hair Care – One of the most versatile vitamins in the human body is vitamin A. Pears are high in vitamin A and its subsequent components, like lutein and zeaxanthin. By acting as antioxidants, and also by participating in a number of enzymatic reactions and organ functions, pears can reduce the effects of aging on the skin like wrinkles and age spots. These powerful fruits can also reduce the chances of hair loss, macular degeneration, cataracts, and various other conditions associated with the aging process.
Adding pears to your diet
Pears can be consumed raw just as it is as a healthy snack or added to salads or used in cooking in various dishes.
Pears are in season from late summer to early winter. Pears can be consumed anytime of the day as a snack but the best time is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Word of caution
There are no known interactions or health risks with pears, although there are always ongoing studies. However, some people suffer from allergic reactions based on certain types of fruit. Monitor your body’s behavior and reaction if you do not normally eat pears, and only eat an appropriate amount, no more than one pear per day.
Recipe for Pear rabdi
Preparation Time: 5 mins, Cooking Time: 15 mins, Time: 20 mins, Makes 4 servings, Calories – 101
3 cups low-fat milk , 99.7% fat-free
3/4 cup grated pear (with skin)
a pinch of cardamom (elaichi) powder
a pinch of nutmeg (jaiphal) powder
2 tbsp sugar
Bring the milk to boil in a deep non-stick pan and simmer it for 10 to 12 minutes, while stirring in between and scraping the sides of the pan.
Add the pear, mix well and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring in between and scraping the sides of the pan.
Add the cardamom powder and nutmeg powder, mix well and keep aside to cool slightly.
Add the sugar, mix well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Recipe for Pear achaar
Yield – 2 cups
Pear 2 cups, chopped (could be a mix of different kinds of pear you find in the market too) Don’t pick up pears that are too soft when pressed, but rather go for the firmer ones.
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Curry leaves 8-9
Ginger 2 tbsp, freshly grated
Garlic 2 tbsp, freshly grated
Green chillies 2, chopped
Red chilli powder 1/4 cup (preferably Kashmiri)
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Vinegar 1/3 cup
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Salt to taste
Set any wide pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Almost immediately add the curry leaves, followed by the grated ginger and garlic, then the green chillies.
Give all of this a good stir and cook for a few minutes till the mixture colours a bit.
Add the red chilli powder and turmeric powders and roast the whole mixture over a medium heat stirring all the while. Splash in water bit by bit to make a thick paste. Dilute this paste further with the white vinegar stirring everything as you go cooking the mixture over a medium flame.
Add the coriander powder and the asafoetida, followed by 1/2 tsp of salt. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Tip in the pieces of chopped pear and stir everything together. Transfer to a box and allow it to cool. The pickle will obviously only get better with time so store and taste as you go every few days.
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