Pears, apples and citrus fruits – welcome to 2020

pearsPears – rich in soluble fibre

Pears, apples and citrus fruits are all in season this month, so I’ve highlighted them for a healthy start to the year, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.  A recent study from the University of Reading showed that eating two apples a day, over an eight-week period, can lower LDL-cholesterol. The decrease was not as large as that brought about by statins but could be very significant over a long period of time and in combination with other healthy habits.

Meanwhile, pears are a rich source of soluble fibre, which can also lower cholesterol, as well as lowering blood glucose. There are several varieties of apples and pears, of course, but if you check the origins and go for fruit grown in England (Conference and Comice pears for instance), you’ll also be helping the environment by saving on air miles.

All citrus fruits are nutrient dense – being rich in soluble fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. If you only buy tangerines at Christmas, maybe try including them in your diet from now on?

Here’s a quick and easy health tip for the New Year – get into the fruit habit. At the start of the day, put out a pear, some easy peel tangerines, and a couple of apples on your desk, if working at home, or pop them into your bag if you’re going out. It’s a good way to push 5-a-day to 7 and beyond!

Total citrus juice
Serves two
The sweetness of the oranges and clementines perfectly balances the sharpness of the grapefruit and limes. And I’ve found that I get more juice from lemons and limes by using a glass squeezer rather than the juicer.
One net of clementines, peeled and segmented
Four large oranges (I used Emperor, which are easy to peel), peeled and segmented
Three red grapefruit, peeled and segmented
Two-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Two limes
Juice everything but the limes. Halve the limes and extract the juice with a glass squeezer and use to top up the mixture. Give a quick stir, to blend in the lime juice, and drink immediately.

Spinach, pear and Bramley juice
Again, this is a nice blend, where the sweetness of the pears nicely counteracts the taste of the apples and the spinach. I like Bramleys in juice because they’re not too sweet. In fact, in her anti-cancer non-dairy programme (The Plant Programme by Professor Jane Plant and Gill Tidey) Jane Plant recommends juicing Bramleys rather than other varieties because of their high vitamin C and folic acid content.
Serves two
200g spinach
Three Bramley apples, cored and chopped roughly
Three pears, chopped roughly
Two-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Two lemons
Juice everything but the lemons. Halve the lemons and extract the juice with a glass squeezer and use to top up the mixture. Give a quick stir, to blend in the lemon juice, and drink immediately.

Pear and Bramley crumble
Serves four
500g Bramley, cored and roughly chopped
500g pears, roughly chopped
Sugar and cinnamon to taste
For the crumble mixture
100g nuts, chopped
175g flour
85g butter, chopped into small pieces
25g sugar
One tbsp. cinnamon
First cook the fruit. Add three tablespoons of water to the apples and bring to boil in a saucepan. Cook on a lower heat for about five minutes and then add the pears. Cook for a further five minutes or until the fruit has softened. Set aside while you prepare the crumble mix. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you get a crumb-like texture. Top the fruit with this mixture in a baking dish and bake at 190˚C for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown.

Next month: Celebrating celery

P is for pears

pearGuest blog by Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

I think pears are often overlooked in favour of apples. The two fruits are closely related, both being members of the rose family, but apples tend to keep better. They are both high in phytonutrients, soluble fibre and vitamin C.

Local pears are around in January and a good substitute for berries, if you don’t want to increase air miles and our carbon footprint by spending on foreign imports. Like berries, pears have a low glycemic index.

They are also particularly rich in flavonoids.A new report from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study showed that consuming pears, and other flavonoid-containing fruit and vegetables, helps lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. I also found another study, described in SuperFoods Health Style by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews which states that eating three pears, or three apples, a day helped women lose weight!

Don’t peel your pears, because most of the fibre and phytonutrients are concentrated in the skin. Two popular pear varieties are Williams (yellow, juicy and classic ‘pear’ shape) and Conference (green, hard and a longer shape). Try to eat as wide a range of varieties as possible (same goes for apples) because each has a slightly different phytonutrient profile, so that way you get the widest possible range of these powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.


Pears add a touch of sweetness to those classic green juice ingredients: celery, cucumber and spinach.
[serves 2 or halve quantities and make two days running for one]

4 pears
Head of celery
2 small cucumbers
Bag, or two bunches, of spinach
2 lemons
2 inches peeled ginger
Chop and juice all ingredients and serve immediately.


A lovely way of using up that Christmas Stilton! [serves two]
Packet or bunch watercress
Two pears, thinly sliced
100g crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (going back to my Lancashire roots, I like Blacksticks Blue or Garstang Blue with this)
75g walnuts
Mix all ingredients, adding the pear last. Dress simply with lemon juice. This can be made into a more substantial meal by adding sliced avocado and serving with some interesting bread.




Some of you may be embarking on January detox campaigns. Here’s a fast I tried out many years ago when I first got interested in food and nutrition.

Pears – this is a good opportunity to try out different varieties because, as with all fasts, this does get boring and it’s a way of introducing a bit of interest.

You need:

  • Big bunch black grapes
  • Big bunch of white grapes.

Start off in the morning with a pear and a few grapes. Continue – eating four pear and grape meals per day. Drink plenty of herb tea, plain filtered water and hot water with lemon. You can vary this a bit by alternating all pear and all grape meals.
Good luck and all the best for a healthy 2015!