Pears could be part of a healthy diet to manage diabetes

While the phrase “an apple a day” is a popular saying, a new study suggests that pears as part of a healthy diet could play a role in helping to manage type 2 diabetes and diabetes-induced hypertension.

The results of research published in Food Research International show potential health benefits of Bartlett and Starkrimson pears. Building on their previous studies, the research team from North Dakota State University, Fargo, and the University of Massachusetts studied whether the peel, pulp and juice of pears could impact the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which plays a role in intestinal ulcers.

The research team includes: Kalidas Shetty and Dipayan Sarkar, now at North Dakota State University, Fargo, previously at the University of Massachusetts with co-authors Chandrakant Ankolekar and Marcia Pinto. Shetty, professor of Plant Sciences at NDSU, serves as the director of the Global Institute of Food Security and International Agriculture (GIFSIA), as well as associate vice president for International Partnerships and Collaborations.

The in vitro (test tube) lab experiments by researchers in the study provided metabolic insights into how two varieties of pears could play a role to better manage early stage diabetes and associated hypertension, commonly called high blood pressure. More research would be needed to determine if the results of the in vitro studies can be replicated in humans.

Naturally occurring phenolic compounds found in fruits may provide a variety of health benefits, as this study shows. More varied and higher phenolic content is found in the skin of the pear than in its flesh or pulp. The study showed that Starkrimson peel had the highest total phenolic content, and that peel extracts had significantly higher total phenolic content than pulp. The pulp extracts of the Bartlett cultivar had higher total phenolics when compared with Starkrimson.

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