Ingredient spotlight: pears

Pears are full of fibre, with 100g – roughly half of one large pear – providing 3.g, which is a generous 17% of your daily recommended amount. Fibre-rich diets have been shown to lower the risk of diverticulitis, an inflammation of the intestine that is extremely common as we get older, and epidemiological studies have identified an inverse correlation between vegetable, fruit and whole-grain intake, plant-food intake and the risk of rectal cancer. The soluble fibre, pectin, found particularly in the peel also helps to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and can lower the risk of dying from heart disease by around a third.


Pears are also an excellent source of copper, with 0.082mg/100g – that’s nearly 7% of your daily intake from just half a pear. Copper is an essential mineral which has an antioxidant effect in the body. It helps to produce red and white blood cells, triggers the release of iron to form haemoglobin, is important for the immune system and plays an important role in the operation of many enzymes.


One of particular interest is superoxide dismutase (SOD): this neutralises the superoxide radicals which are a by-product of metabolism and can damage cell membranes, but deficiencies in copper levels mean that SOD cannot work efficiently. Research has shown a link between high blood levels of SOD and protective effects of death from cancer, while scientists also think that low levels of copper could be a contributory factor in the development of colon cancer. Copper also needs zinc to function in the SOD enzyme, and pears provide 0.1mg/100g – 3% of your daily needs.


Antioxidant vitamin C is also abundant in pears. Just 100g of pear provides 4.2mg, which is 10% of your daily recommended intake, helping to boost your immune system and keep your bones, teeth and collagen healthy.


Pears have a low glycaemic index which helps to keep blood sugar and therefore insulin levels stable. Low GI diets can ward off weight gain and, in the long-term, conditions such as type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Interestingly, a study which examined the effect on weight loss of adding fruit into the diet, found that women who ate three pears or apples a day had a ‘significant’ weight loss at the end of the three-month trial.



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