Not that we need any more reasons to love pears, but recent research suggests that consuming pears may be protective against stroke, a type of cardiovascular disease! In the September 15, 2011 online issue of Stroke, the Journal of the American Heart Association, intake of white flesh fruits and vegetables, especially apples and pears, was found to be protective against the incidence of stroke. The color of fruits and vegetables has long been thought to be indicative of phytonutrient activity, a measure of a plant food’s strength in fighting disease, but this is the first study to examine stroke incidence based on a plant food’s color. For this study 20,069 healthy 20 to 65 year old Dutch participants were followed for over 10 years and monitored for stroke incidence. During this time an average of 118 grams/day of white fruits and vegetables were consumed, and the higher the intake of white produce, the more dramatic was the decrease in stroke incidence. Indeed, every increase of 25 grams per day of white produce consumed was associated with a 9% decrease in risk for stroke!
The flesh, or edible portion, of apples and pears consists of various bioactive compounds, namely flavonoids and dietary fiber. The authors of this study point out that flavonoids are one of many phytonutrients thought to act as antioxidants, or compounds that fight chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Likewise, dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, has been linked to cholesterol-lowering benefits that may protect against cardiovascular disease. One medium-sized, 100 gram pear contains flavonoids, 24% of your daily need for dietary fiber, and may protect against stroke. Have you had your pears today?