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University study finds eating pears reduces risk of heart disease

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Researchers from Florida State University (FSU) have discovered that eating fresh pears everyday can alleviate symptoms of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged men and women, significantly reducing blood pressure and improving vascular function.

Metabolic syndrome is the medical term used to describe a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, a condition that currently affects more than one in three adults in the United States alone.

FSU scientists used a clinical trial to evaluate the benefits of fresh pear consumption upon symptoms of metabolic syndrome. The team analysed 50 men and women between the ages of 45-65, all of whom demonstrated three to five symptoms of the condition. Participants were then randomly assigned either two medium-sized pears, or a 50 gram placebo of pear-flavoured drink, which they consumed every day for a 12-week period.

Evaluation of 36 participants showed that after 12-weeks of fresh pear consumption, systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure were significantly lower than baseline levels, whereas no changes were observed within the control group. Scientists say further research is needed to confirm the antihypertensive effects of fresh pears, as well as to assess their impact on vascular function.

“These initial results are very promising,” said Dr. Sarah A. Johnson, PhD, RDN, lead author and now Assistant Professor and Director of the Functional Foods & Human Health Laboratory in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University.

“With metabolic syndrome being of such high prevalence in the U.S., we feel it is important to explore the potential for functional foods such as pears to improve cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure in affected middle-aged adults,” she said.

“Elevated systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure, which is the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are strong predictors of cardiovascular disease. Age-related vascular dysfunction has been shown to be accelerated in individuals with metabolic syndrome and contributes to these increases in blood pressure,” Johnson concludes.

The study demonstrates the pear’s potential to alleviate symptoms of metabolic syndrome as an outstanding source of fibre, vitamin c, phytochemicals and a host of other nutrients. One medium-sized piece of fruit – which is completely free of fat, sodium and cholesterol – offers 190 milligrams of potassium, as well as 24 percent of an individual’s daily fibre requirements.

Image via Flickr.

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