Metabolic syndrome is a medical term for a group of metabolic disorders that is said to affect about 23% of adults.1 Because of the increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, metabolic syndrome requires substantial lifestyle changes to lessen its impact on one's health.
Naturally rich in flavonoids, phenolic acids, and other key nutrients, pears have shown potential as a functional food for improving cardiometabolic health.2 Because of their high soluble fiber content, pears have also been found to help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as well as enhance weight loss, thus aiding metabolic syndrome management.3
This study was intended to build on the previous research and aimed to evaluate the benefits of daily fresh pear consumption for metabolic syndrome in middle-aged adults.
This randomized, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial was a collaboration between researchers from various US universities, including Colorado State University, Florida State University, and California State Polytechnic University, among others. The results were published in the Food & Function journal.
The study recruited 40 men and women aged 45-65 diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. They were assigned to two groups: the intervention group was instructed to eat two medium-sized fresh pears a day, while the control group was given one placebo drink of a similar caloric content per day.
The trial lasted for 12 weeks and was followed by a 4-week washout period before crossing the participants to the other group. Biomarkers - such as blood pressure, waist circumference, and concentration of leptin (a hormone mainly composed by adipose cells) - were measured before, during, and after the study.
It was observed that after the completion of the study, pulse pressure was significantly reduced and systolic blood pressure was slightly reduced as well. (Pulse pressure is the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure.)
The intervention group also exhibited significantly lower concentrations of leptin at the end of the study in contrast to those at baseline. (High leptin levels have been associated with metabolic syndrome in obese adults.)4
Additionally, participants in the pear group also showed a substantial reduction in waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio over the span of 12 weeks. Those in the control group had seen an increase in waist circumference.
What Does this Mean?
The findings of this clinical trial confirm the benefits of consuming pears as a functional food for metabolic syndrome management in aging adults.
These are good news for the sufferers of metabolic syndrome as pears are easy to introduce to one's diet and can complement a heart-healthy lifestyle in order to reduce the risks of the condition on overall health and improve quality of life.
More research is needed to establish adequate dosage and further understand the benefits of pears for metabolic syndrome treatment.
- Food and Function, Influence of daily fresh pear consumption on biomarkers of cardiometabolic health in middle-aged/older adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial, 2019
- American Heart Association. (2016). About metabolic syndrome. Retrieved December 11, 2019 from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome
- The FASEB Journal. (2017). Effects of Fresh Pear Consumption on Biomarkers of Cardiometabolic Health in Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Metabolic Syndrome. Retrieved December 11, 2019 from https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.lb346
- Nutrients. (2018). Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Retrieved December 11, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315720/
- Journal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis. (2015). Serum Leptin is Associated with Metabolic Syndrome in Obese Mexican Subjects. Retrieved December 11, 2019 from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jcla.21718