Anyone who has ever been advised by their Doctor to add more fiber to their diet has no doubt found themselves aimlessly wondering the cereal isles trying to figure out which one is better for them. It is easier, and tastier to add fiber to your diet by staying out of the cereal isle and heading to the fresh fruit section to pick up some pears.
Although bran helps to eliminate constipation, helps and weight loss and may reduce the risk of some cancers, it can also cause gas and bloating and reduce the absorption of zinc, calcium and iron. Pears on the other hand contain 5 grams of fiber each, four of which are insoluble, and insoluble fiber is important to digestive health and regularity.
Pears are also have good amounts of folate, vitamin C, potassium and iron as well as pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that helps to control blood cholesterol levels.
Types of Pears
There are hundreds of varieties of pears, but in North America there are four types that are most readily available.
- Bartlett: Summer pear eaten fresh or canned
- Comice: Light green. Sweet winter pear
- Anjou: Juicy yellow winter pear
- Bosc: Slightly longer and slimmer than the others, Bosc pears are crunchy and ideal for baking
Pears are harvested before they are ripe to prevent them from having a gritty texture. Most often they are shipped unripened and land in the stores this way, so be careful when buying them. Pears ripen from the inside out, so avoid buying them if the outside is already soft. Look for pears that are firm and light green to gold (some varieties like Bartlett should have a reddish tinge) Surface blemishes will not affect the taste or quality of pears.
Bosc pears will ripen when refrigerated, but most pears should be kept at room temperature until they ripen. To speed up the ripening process, store pears in a loosely closed paper bag. When cooking or canning , use firm unripe pears. To peel them more easily, dip each pear into boiling water for about ten seconds first.
Note: Most of the vitamin C in pears is in the skin, so to maximize the nutrient value, pears should be eaten un-peeled.