Research indicates regular fresh pear consumption may improve blood pressure in middle-aged men/women with metabolic syndrome

Among the most popular fruits in the world, pears are an excellent source of fibre and a good source of vitamin C

An abstract of an ongoing study, 'Fresh pear (Pyrus communis) consumption may improve blood pressure in middle-aged men and women with metabolic syndrome,' presented at Experimental Biology in San Diego (CA, USA), indicates regular fresh pear consumption may improve blood pressure and vascular function in middle-aged men and women with metabolic syndrome (MetS.)

MetS, a cluster of major cardiovascular risk factors highly associated with the development of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, affects more than one in three US adults.

The randomised, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial evaluated the antihypertensive effects of fresh pear consumption in middle-aged men and women with MetS. Fifty men and women aged 45 to 65 years with three of the five features of MetS were randomly assigned to receive either two medium-sized fresh pears (~178 g) or a 50g pear-flavoured drink mix (placebo) per day for 12 weeks.

Preliminary analyses of 36 participants show that after 12 weeks of fresh pear consumption, systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure were significantly lower than baseline levels, whereas there were no changes in the control group. 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 US, 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.'

'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,' she added.

The study is from the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences and the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging (CAENRA) at Florida State University by Dr Bahram H. Arjmandi, Professor and Director of CAENRA and Dr Sarah A. Johnson, previous Assistant Director of CAENRA.

Among the most popular fruits in the world, pears are an excellent source of fibre and a good source of vitamin C, for only 100 calories per serving. One medium pear provides 24% of daily fibre needs. Plus, they are sodium-free, cholesterol-free, fat-free and contain 190mg of potassium. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including pears, provides beneficial micronutrients, vitamins, dietary fiber, potassium, phytochemicals and more.

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