Pears are some of the world’s most beloved fruits, yet they are still understated. As a result, little information is typically passed on about pears, making them relatively unknown to the public. This is why, in this article, we’ll offer more information on this fruit’s history, nutritional value, and health benefits. We’ll also talk about how you can pick the proper pears and what you can do to store them better.
An Overview of the Pear
There is a long-standing history of pears; we still have them and can enjoy everything they offer. Pears have been around for thousands of years, and proof of this are numerous documents attesting to their existence going as far back as 5,000 B.C. Even Homer speaks highly of pears in his Odyssey, referring to pears as the ‘gift of the gods.’
Pears were a precious commodity among the trading routes of the ancient world thanks to their high shelf life and increased versatility. As a result, these shapely and elegant fruits have also been depicted in many still-life paintings across the centuries.
Pears eventually entered America via the early colonists that brought these delicious fruits to the eastern settlements of the continent. After many challenges suffered by the crops, these fruits managed to survive and thrive throughout the years.
Pear trees, indeed, are sun lovers, and they typically love growing in fertile and deep soils. It’s also essential that these soils are well-drained. Having said this, pear trees deal better with heavy and poorly drained soils than most tree fruits, but they thrive in rich, deep soils. These trees usually flower in early spring, so they’re always at risk of suffering from spring frosts. Pear trees start yielding fruit in the fourth to the sixth year of growth, so it’s worth remembering if you’re buying your pear trees. Pears are some of the fruits that can quickly be grown, and due to their resistance to pests, growing pears is a more straightforward challenge than growing apples.
Nowadays, there are over 3,000 varieties of pears grown all around the world. The pear fruits are typically oval, conical, or round; their color can be either yellow, green, or reddish. However, these fruits are typically harvested green since they ripen even after this point. This gives producers an upper hand, enabling them to prevent pears from becoming overripe in supermarkets.
In the U.S., ten different types of pears are being grown, each with its unique set of characteristics, such as size, smell, and taste. These types are:
- Bartlett – this variety becomes very sweet when ripe.
- Green Anjou.
- Red Anjou.
- Red Bartlett becomes as sweet as the Bartlett variety when ripe, but it stays relatively crisp.
- Starkrimson – this type of pear becomes very soft and juicy when ripe while also providing that irresistible sweet taste.
Pears are also one of those fruits that companies have molded into specific shapes. So, like there are heart-shaped watermelons and star-shaped cucumbers, nowadays you can even find Buddha-shaped pears, complete with a fat tummy and a meditative smile.
Health Benefits of Pears
What people often don’t know about pears is that apart from their delicious taste and inviting aspect, they’re also nutritious, providing those who eat them with a powerful combination of vitamins and minerals that will boost the immune system. So let’s look at what exactly it is that pears bring to the table regarding nutrition. It’s essential, thus, to note that one medium-sized pear (178 grams) will provide you with the following nutrients:
- 101 Calories
- 1 gram of protein – a decent protein intake will give your body more sustenance by increasing the strength and mass of your muscles. Protein is also good for your bones, boosting your overall immune system.
- 6 grams of fiber – fiber is essential in maintaining the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal processes of the body. Eating pears regularly will regulate your bowel movements while also helping you eat less of other snacks since fiber brings forth a strong sense of satiety.
- 27 grams of carbs – the carbs contained by pears – and fruits, in general – are as close as they can be to their natural state, making them healthy. Carbs usually provide the body with the energy it needs to sustain certain physical activities that otherwise would leave it drained.
- 12% of the DRV (Daily Recommended Value) of vitamin C – vitamin C is critical in the human body since it helps build, repair, and maintain the health of all tissues. This vitamin also helps build collagen, supports the immune system’s health, and helps heal wounds. The health of cartilage, teeth, and bones will also be protected thanks to this vitamin. Vitamin C may also decrease the risk of chronic diseases and help manage high blood pressure.
- 6% of the DRV of vitamin K
- 16% of the DRV of copper – when this mineral pairs up with copper, it forms a powerful team that will create the body’s red blood cells. When you increase your copper intake, you can help prevent cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.
- 4% of the DRV of potassium is essential in regulating muscle contractions, nerve signals, and fluid levels in the body.
Apart from this, pears can be considered wonderful antioxidant fruits since they contain a good amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants are the ones that will fight against the harmful consequences of free radicals in the human body. These compounds we absorb through external means, such as our polluted environments, or harmful habits, such as drinking or smoking. In other words, antioxidants work as a shield against the body’s aging process, helping it slow down this process.
The antioxidants contained in pears are:
- Vitamin C
One such antioxidant is vitamin C, which plays a tremendously important role in the human body. Another type of antioxidant is polyphenols, which also prevent oxidative damage. Make sure you eat the entire pear, especially the peel, since this part contains more polyphenol antioxidants than the actual flesh, according to one study, Characterization and Quantification of Fruit Phenolic Compounds of European and Tunisian Pear Cultivars.
Pears also contain some compounds that give these fruits their different coloring. For example, anthocyanins in pears give some of these fruits that reddish hue we’re used to – they may improve heart health and play an essential part in strengthening the blood vessels.
The kind of pears you see that have green skin most likely also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two essential compounds in maintaining macular health, in other words, eye health, as you age. In addition, these fantastic fruits also contain flavonoid antioxidants, which help fight inflammation and may also decrease your risk of developing diseases. Studies, such as flavonoid intake and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, indicate that a high flavonoid intake may decrease the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
It seems that pears may also play an essential part in preventing certain cancers, such as bladder, stomach, and lung cancers. Women may also benefit from regularly eating these fruits since pears may safeguard against ovarian and breast cancers. However, further research is needed before a pear-based diet can act as a basis for preventing cancer.
Pears may also help you lose weight due to their fiber intake, low-calorie count, and high-water content. This combination is winning when looking to lose weight since the fiber and high-water content will help you keep feeling full. When you are complete, you don’t typically need to indulge in unnecessary snacking anymore.
Overeating can result in many negative results. Eating the wrong foods, like those with high content of refined carbohydrates and sugar, can lead to cholelithiasis or gallstones. When you have gallstones in your gall bladder, you get to feel acute pain in your abdomen that keeps returning repeatedly. To make matters worse, you will also encounter indigestion, gas, and constipation. A quick remedy for this condition is to eat pears.
Pears are natural laxatives. It has high fiber content, copper, and antioxidants, which can help you with chronic gall bladder disorders. Eating pears regulates your bowel functions, cleanses your gall bladder, and rids you of gallstones.
Pears contain pectin, which binds to cholesterol-filled gallstones and helps them find their way out of your body. Although more evidence is needed to support the claim that pears can help you completely get rid of gallstones, more than one health source claim that these fruits are at least significant at performing an efficient gallbladder cleanse. Some gallstones may not be large enough to block a bile duct in your gallbladder, so it’s worth pursuing a treatment that includes pears or pear juice. If the situation is a bit worse, and the gallstones represent a threat to the normal functioning of your gallbladder, an operation is needed immediately. You will know this with severe abdominal pain, jaundice, and a fever. Having said this, you can eat pears for gallstones, provided the condition is not advanced, and you may notice positive effects on your health.
Other benefits come with eating pears. Pears also keep your heart healthy, and your colon gets a cleansing from the natural fibers of this fruit. You can also mix pears with apples, cranberry, grapes, pineapple, or papaya to get a more potent concoction against gall bladder disorders, indigestion, colon disorders, urinary infections, and constipation.
How to Pick the Right Pears?
If you’re harvesting the pears yourself, it’s important to remember that these are some of the few fruits out there that don’t ripen well in the tree. They ripen better when they’re not on their stem anymore. However, if left too long on the plant, the fruit will become too soft in texture and flesh too sweet and high in sugar.
If you’re buying your pears, make sure to take into consideration all aspects of the fruit: the size, the texture, the smell, and the color. Of course, each type of pear will have different characteristics, but if you know the basics of the type you are buying, you can pick the ripe one. You will be able to feel the ripeness in the smell – the aroma will feel rich, and when you touch the pear, you can expect it to have a certain degree of softness.
If you’ve bought unripe pears, you can still leave them on a counter for a few days more to ripen or in a paper bag. The process will smoothly carry on without you needing to do much about it.
Storing Your Pears
It’s recommended that you store your pears at 30F – any less than this and your fruits will suffer damage; any higher and they will become overripe. You can also leave your pears in the refrigerator – the Bartlett type of pears will be able to sit at these temperatures for about two or three months.
For your pears to ripen, allow them each some time to sit outside on the counter – 4-5 days for the Bartlett variety, 5-7 days for the Comice and Bosc varieties, and 7-10 for the Anjou pears. To speed up the pear’s ripening process, you can put your pears in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple.
When it comes to pears, it’s important to remember that they’re not perishable fruits at all, which means you can expect them to take their time to ripen. Apart from this, you won’t have unpleasant surprises where they turn mushy and inedible overnight.
As you can see, pears are not only delicious, versatile, and easy to maintain fresh, but they also come with myriad health benefits that can boost your overall well-being. Some of these health benefits are well documented, and others may need additional research. However, this makes pears an excellent fruit to include in your regular diet either way – they may help you be well on your way to a healthier and leaner body.
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