Let’s please talk about pears. While everyone else is buzzing about apples and oranges, pears are often cast aside as the hard fruit in the produce section. And that’s too bad. For a few reasons.

1. Pears are loaded with fiber – more so than apples – which is something Americans don’t get enough of. A medium-sized pear contains 5.5 grams of fiber, while larger ones provide around 7 grams. For reference, women should try to get at least 25 grams of fiber; men should aim for at least 38.

2. All pears contain flavonoids, which may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. And red pears contain an additional compound called anthocyanin, which promotes heart health and anti-aging.

3. Pears are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C that can be beneficial for the immune system.

4. Pears are a good way to get more potassium, which can have a significant impact on heart health.

5. One medium pear provides 12 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C.

6. Pears are about 84 percent water—coupled with the high amount of fiber they contain, this helps keep your digestive system healthy.

7. There are few fruits juicier and sweeter than a fully ripened pear. Use them in baked goods, on oatmeal or yogurt, or to make sauces and salads. They’re particularly nice when paired with a strong-flavored cheese and drizzled with honey.

TIP: If pears are hard when you purchase them, store them in a paper bag at room temperature. The bag traps ethylene gas—which is naturally produced by pears—and speeds up the ripening process. Once pears are ripe, store them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.

 

Cinnamon pear holiday smoothie

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

½ small ripe pear, chopped

½ banana, peeled

1 scoop Gourmet Natural Vanilla Bean Flavor Performance Inspired Performance Whey protein powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground nutmeg

½ cup water or almond milk

3-4 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to blender and blend.

 

-- Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.