Washington | Eating fresh pears may improve blood pressure and vascular function in middle-aged men and women who are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
The clinical trial evaluated the antihypertensive effects of fresh pear consumption in middle-aged men and women with metabolic syndrome (MetS), a cluster of major cardiovascular risk factors highly associated with the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Fifty men and women aged 45 to 65 years with three of the five features of MetS were randomly assigned to receive either 2 medium-sized fresh pears (about 178 grammes) or 50 grammes pear-flavored 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, researchers said.
These initial results are very promising, said lead author Sarah A Johnson, who conducted the research while at Florida 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, Johson said, who is now at from the Colorado State University.
Elevated systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure, which is the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure, are strong predictors of cardiovascular disease, she said. Age-related vascular dysfunction has been shown to be accelerated in individuals with metabolic syndrome and contributes to these increases in blood pressure, she said.
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 per cent of daily fibre needs, researchers said. They are sodium-free, cholesterol-free, fat-free, and contain 190 mg of potassium.