Consuming pears every day may assist in improving blood pressure and vascular function in middle-aged individuals with metabolic syndrome, according to a new study.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of cardiovascular risk factors that has been linked to the development of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. It currently affects over one out of three adults in the United States.

Demonstrating potential to alleviate this cluster of symptoms are pears, a popular fruit that serves as an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, phytochemicals, and a wealth of nutrients. A medium-sized piece of this fruit – which is free of fat, sodium, and cholesterol – offers 24 percent of one’s daily fiber requirements and 190 milligrams of potassium.

In the new research, the team analyzed 50 individuals – both men and women, ages 45 to 65, and who maintained three to five symptoms of metabolic syndrome. The participants were assigned randomly to get either two medium-sized pears or 50 grams of pear-flavored drink as placebo every day for a 12-week period.

After the research period, results showed that the 36 subjects who consumed fresh pears had significantly lower levels of systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure – the difference between systolic and diastolic points – than baseline levels. The same beneficial effect was not detected in the other group.

Lead study author and Colorado State University professor Dr. Sarah Johnson dubbed the findings as very promising and highlighted their importance as metabolic syndrome becomes more prevalent in the country.

“[W]e 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,” she says, citing elevated systolic blood pressure as well as pulse pressure as strong heart disease predictors.

In metabolic syndrome patients, age-related vascular dysfunction is seen to accelerate, contributing to such blood pressure increases.

The findings were presented at an Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego last week.

Previous studies have also touted the beneficial role of omega-3 fats, such as found in walnuts, in reducing chronic inflammation and managing metabolic syndrome.

Recent research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session and Expo, on the other hand, established a link between long naps at daytime and a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Power naps are supposedly between 10 to 30 minutes long. Now, scientists thought that a nap longer than 40 minutes during the day could translate to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Photo: Kiran Foster | Flickr

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