Pears proven perfect panacea
In a recent scientific literature review by Dr Nathan O’Callaghan, CSIRO Food and Nutrition Flagship, for Horticulture Innovation Australia, the pear, or Pyrus in Latin, has been found to have a number of important health benefits.
This is especially good news for Henk Griessel, Quality Assurance Manager of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, South Africa’s largest marketer of apples and pears.
“We’ve always known that eating fresh fruit and vegetables is essential to health but these results suggest a direct benefit to eating more pears. The Chinese, for example, have known for over 2000 years what we Westerners are only now discovering: pears are understood to anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycaemic, provide cough relief and work wonders in helping to prevent a hangover. The Australians are now reporting that the consumption of pear juice prior to alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce blood alcohol levels, particularly in individuals with a genetic variant associated with a reduced ability to metabolise alcohol, while in normal individuals hangover symptoms were reduced. The key component proposed to stimulate alcohol metabolism is arbutus, found in the skin of the Korean pear,” he says.
The strength of the scientific evidence used in the study was evaluated using the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) criteria.
According to Griessel, studies also show that the combined intake of apples and pears are associated with reduced risk of stroke. Some evidence is also available to show that apples and pears are associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease as well as assisting in the management of Type 2 Diabetes because of their low glycemic index (GI). Griessel says the Australians also reported further support for pears’ anti-diabetic potential following three animal studies that showed favourable effects on blood glucose from pear extracts, potentially related to insulin-like activity of various bioactive compounds in pear, in particular blocking of carbohydrate digestion by certain phenolic acids.
“Consumption of pear or pear components increases in vivo antioxidant activity in animal models. The effect is greater with pear peel extract than pear pulp, which is consistent with greater levels of polyphenols in the peel, compared to the pulp. Thus, to obtain all the benefits of pear it should be consumed with the peel. Australian animal studies suggest the antioxidant mechanisms of pears may be at play in wound healing and liver protection,” he says.
Griessel says that studies suggest that pears surpass all other fruits for its high content of digestive regulating nutrients including fibre, fructose and sorbitol. The fibre content of a medium size pear (4.1g) meets the Food Standard Australia/New Zealand criteria for a nutrient content claim that pear is a “good source” of fibre. Furthermore, pears, particularly the peel, are rich in several phytonutrients, especially phenolic acids which has been associated with multiple health benefits related to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. The Australian’s added that pears, because of their unique composition of fibre, sorbitol and fructose have the potential to play an important role in regulating normal bowel function.”
Tru-Cape Managing Director Roelf Pienaar remarked that “as Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing is responsible for the livelihoods of 15, 200 people who rely on our ability to sell our growers’ apples and pears that any research that elevates our takeaways from nature into superfoods that also happen to be affordable to many and taste delicious, is exactly what we hope for.”