February is American Heart Month and we’re celebrating with a post about what makes two of your favorite fruits – apples and pears – good ones to eat for heart health. Sally of our Kitchen Council puts her dietitian skills to good use and dissects the latest health research that favors eating these two beloved Stemilt fruits and protect your heart.
How fitting that American Heart Month overlaps the prime season for so many varieties of Stemilt apples and pears—because both fruits are particularly good for your ticker. Here are the top 10 reasons why:
- 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.
- 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.
Go on and give you heart a healthy treat with all the in-season apples and pears available from Stemilt right now. Click to find out when your favorite varieties of apples and pears are available from Stemilt.
Read more about the research studies mentioned in this post, here: