Are Pears the New Apples?

It appears that pears are everywhere — but are they the new apples?

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©Lisa Shin Photography Inc.

Lisa Shin Photography Inc.

Head to your local market and you’ll find delicious pears piled high right next to all those apples. Many recipes are substituting crunchy pears in place of apples. It appears that pears are everywhere — but are they the new apples?
An Apple a Day?

Because it’s packed with nutrients, as the saying goes, “an apple a day keeps a doctor away.” One medium apple (3-inch diameter) contains 95 calories and 4 grams of fiber, and is a good source of vitamin C. It also has smaller amounts of a multitude of nutrients, including potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin K. Apples also contain phytochemicals called quercetin and phloridzin, which have been linked to fighting heart disease and cancer. The peel also contains a nice amount of the antioxidant beta carotene.

So how do pears shape up? One medium-size pear provides as much vitamin C and potassium as one-half cup of orange juice. So they definitely hold their own in the nutrition department. One medium pear contains 100 calories and 6 grams of fiber (that’s 24 percent of the recommended daily amount!), and is also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C. Pears also have smaller amounts of many vitamins and minerals, including copper, numerous B vitamins and potassium. These bell-shaped fruit also contain anthocyanins, which have been shown to help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Much of their nutrient content is found in the skin, so keep the skin on!

This head-to-head comparison shows that apples and pears can both be a part of a delicious diet and can help keep you healthy. If you’re headed to the market, now is the perfect time to add pears to your shopping cart.

How to Choose ’Em

Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. They’re harvested when they’re mature, just not ripe. They need to be left at room temperature to ripeno in a cool, dry place. To check if your pear is ripe, as the saying goes, “check the neck.” Use your thumb to apply gentle pressure around the neck of the pear. If it yields to the slight pressure, then it’s ripe. Ripe pears can be refrigerated (it slows the ripening process) for up to five days.

In the Kitchen

Here are five delicious ways to use pears in your cooking.

  1. Toss pears with your favorite greens.

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Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

  1. Add a sweet flavor and crunchy texture to guac.
  1. Enjoy their taste and nutritional benefits in this elegant dessert.

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Photo by: Kana Okada ©2010, Kana Okada

Kana Okada, 2010, Kana Okada

  1. Complement flavorful cheese in these bite-sized appetizers.
Mashed Butternut Squash and Pears. Danny Boome
Rescue Chef
RB-0212

House Number - 0065144F1

Mashed Butternut Squash and Pears. Danny Boome Rescue Chef RB-0212

  1. Mash into a butternut squash puree.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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