Originally published in February 2016; updated September 2020.
While February is American Heart Month and is dedicated to celebrating heart health, we feel that taking care of your heart should always be front of mind!
Feeding your body with the proper nutrients will keep you fueled and feeling good. As fruit experts, we often get asked questions about the health benefits of fruits, so we rounded up a few we thought you might like. Read on to learn more about fruits, specifically apples and pears, are heart-healthy foods.
- Which fruit is best for your heart? According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, the more fruits and veggies you can incorporate into your diet, the better. Some of the top fruit contenders include apples, pears, oranges, and other citrus fruits.
- Do apples clear arteries? Apples can certainly help keep your arteries clear due to the amount of fiber they contain. Both apples and pears are high in fiber. A medium apple with the skin has 4 grams of fiber, and a medium pear has 5. Researchers from Harvard University found that for every 10 grams of fiber you eat, your risk for coronary heart disease drops by 14 percent—and fruit fiber was found to be especially protective.
- What are the health benefits of pears? Pears are a great healthy snack option! They are full of fiber, a good source of vitamin C, sodium-, cholesterol-, and fat-free and contain 190 mg of potassium! And that’s not everything! Check out the full study conduct by USA Pears that share the potential health benefits of pear consumption.
- Are some pears or apples healthier than others? This is a question we often receive, and the good news is: no! All apples and pears are created equal when it comes to health and nutritional benefits.
Besides these FAQs, we also got some help from our friend Sally of Real Mom Nutrition, who has rounded up all of the latest health research that favors our two beloved Stemilt fruits and how they may improve heart health.
- These fruits are low in calories: A medium pear and a medium apple have roughly 100 calories each, making them both low-cal choices for snacking. A diet rich in low-calorie, high-nutrient foods can help you keep your calories in balance and your weight from creeping up—and that will help keep your heart healthy.
- Apples & pears crowd out unhealthy snacks: When you’re snacking on fruit like pears and apples, it means you’re not reaching for chips and other high-calorie, low-nutrient munchies. Bonus: Fruit is also stellar at satisfying a sweet tooth!
- They’re rich in antioxidants: A study at The Ohio State University found that eating an apple every day for four weeks lowered levels of a kind of “bad” cholesterol that triggers hardening of the arteries. Researchers say the kind of antioxidants in apples—called polyphenols–may be the reason why.
- They contain vitamin C: Both apples and pears contain vitamin C, which does more than bolster the immune system. In one study, people with high blood concentrations of vitamin C (a sign for high fruit and veggie intake) had lower BMIs, lower blood pressure, and lower levels of c-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), all of which are linked to a lower risk for heart disease.
- Apples and pears are free of saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol: Pears and apples are naturally heart-healthy not only because of what they do contain, but also because of what they don’t—namely saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol, which may all be harmful to heart health in large amounts.
- They fill you up: Pears and apples are both rich in two things that fill your belly and keep you fuller longer: fluid and fiber. These fruits are particularly rich in soluble fiber, which slow digestion—which may help you avoid overeating (and gaining weight!).
- They pack potassium: This mineral is like kryptonite to sodium’s effects and may help keep blood pressure at a healthy level. That’s why potassium is a cornerstone of the DASH diet, a diet plan that emphasizes lots of fruits and vegetables and that’s been proven by research to help lower blood pressure.
- They’re full of flavonoids: Flavonoids are plant chemicals that that can help safeguard health. In a study of nearly 200,000 men and women, regularly eating apples and pears—both rich in a kind of flavonoid called anthocyanins–was associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.
- They’re key to a heart-healthy diet: Fruits like apples and pears are mainstays of a heart-healthy plan. The American Heart Association actually recommends getting 4-5 servings of fruit a day, and each medium Stemilt apple or pear counts as one of those servings.
Feeling motivated? Check out some of these heart-friendly recipe options:
- Savory Breakfast Bowl with Garlic-Tahini Sauce
- Apple, Sage & Cauliflower Gnocchi
- Harvest Buddha Bowls
- Warm Winter Pear Salad
Read more about the research studies mentioned in this post, here: