December is national pear month

As one of the most favored fruits, the pear offers many nutritional benefits and is easy to use and transport.

Apple cider, caramel apples and bobbing for apples all conjure up the visions of fall. This is the season of the apple. It is also the season of the pear, a fruit often overlooked in the shadow of the apple. Pears deserve bragging rights as well. They are sodium free, cholesterol free and fat free. They are one of the top 20 most popular fruits, according to the FDA. They are an excellent source of fiber (24 percent of recommended daily value), only 100 calories and don’t require any prep to enjoy. With over 3,000 varieties grown around the world, December has been declared national pear month. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to explore the fruit.

Pears provide nutrients that can assist with preventing cardiovascular disease and various cancers. They are a natural source of antioxidants which are important for bone and tissue health and in lowering the risk for infection. Pears also contain flavonoids that have been associated with a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes in both women and men.

Pears can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, is a healthy snack and is a food tolerated by sometimes fussy stomachs. For a variety of recipes that incorporate pears, visit MyPlate Pear-fect Idea to Fill MyPlate. The USDA Recipe Finder is another source for which individual ingredients can be searched to locate recipes that incorporate that specific ingredient. Try this link for pears.

When you are selecting a pear, choose one that is firm and without blemishes. Wash the fruit before eating. If you are cutting the pear ahead of serving, be mindful that the pears oxidize quickly and will turn a brownish color. You can prevent this by applying several drops of orange, lemon or lime juice to the fruit immediately after cutting. For more information on preserving pears, visit the MSU Extension Michigan Fresh campaign and the Michigan Pears fact sheet that covers food safety and preservation.

The USDA ChooseMyPlate campaign encourages us to make sure that half of our plates are made up of fruits and vegetables. Tips on how to consume more fruit can be found at this MyPlate's 10 tips to help you eat more fruits.

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