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Fruit season is generally not associated with wintertime. Summer brings berries, peaches, plums, nectarines, mangos—pitted fruit that make you salivate just thinking about them. Truth is, I get excited about two fruit included in winter's crop: pears and mandarin oranges. Let's not get into the citrus family right now, but concentrate on the rose family, specifically the much under-appreciated pear.
Unbeknownst to most people, pears are some of the most nutritionally valuable fruit. Relatives of the apple, pears have double the fiber, averaging 6 grams per individual fruit, which makes up about 20% of the recommended daily intake.
Pears also score low on the glycemic index chart, which means the natural sugars of the fruit are absorbed more slowly by the body, maintaining a more stable blood sugar level. This makes pears a great snack for diabetics and people with hypoglycemia.
But the benefits don't stop there. Pears are also antioxidant rich with quercetin, which is in the skin along with pectin, the main source of fiber found in pears. So don't peel the pear or you'll miss out on two key natural nutrient boosts.
Pears are also believed to have hypoallergenic properties, and are often recommended as one of the first fruits to give children. Pears are also full of the vitamin folate, which has been shown to prevent neural tube defects in infants, making them a great fruit for pregnant women to eat.
Pears shouldn't be consumed strictly on the basis of their good-for-you-properties. Pears are great additions to a whole variety of meals, fresh or cooked. To sweeten up a salad, slice up a ripe pear and pair with greens, walnuts and bleu cheese. Or, for a more classical dish, poached pears soaked in red wine—a sophisticated, antioxidant-loaded dessert.
There are many varieties of pears. In the US, Bartlett, Anjou and Bosc are most available. Bosc are smooth-skinned and firmer, making them more desirable for cooking with. Bartlett pears make a delicious snack or fondue accompaniment.
So give your immune system a boost, or just tickle your taste buds this cold season and remember: fruit season doesn't stop when the leaves start changing color.
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