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Category Archives: Health

RCIL to host two learning sessions for those with vision loss

RCIL will host a two-part seminar to help people who have vision loss. Attendees will learn about topics such as self-care, and using technology to help with every day needs. The seminar will be 12-2 p.m. on two days, July 6 and July 13, 2022, at the Osage County Senior Center, 604 Market St., Osage City, Kan.

The first session will cover self care, shopping, and cooking; second session will include reading, writing, and using technology.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Amanda Smith, of Resource Center for Independent Living, at 785-528-3105, or [email protected].

Frontier Extension District enlists interns for summer programs

The Frontier Extension District has been awarded three summer interns through a K-State Research and Extension grant to help combat COVID and promote learning within local communities.

With health and wellness frames in mind, the Extension district created Bicycle SPIN (Special Interest) Clubs partnering with local libraries. With interns’ assistance, youth will be able explore nature, food and nutrition, exercise, and much more. The SPIN clubs will provide a safe space where kids feel welcomed.

Welcome these Frontier Extension interns for the summer. Here they tell you a little bit about themselves.

Josie Thompson

Hello, my name is Josie Thompson. I am from Osage County and was a member of the Willing Workers 4-H Club for 12 years. I was involved in many projects over the years, but my favorites were livestock and food and nutrition. I am so excited to be a 4-H intern and make many connections with 4-H members.

As an intern, I plan to make the kids we work with feel included and as if they belong. I believe there is something for everyone in 4-H. Youth should be able to find their passion, whether it be cooking, Legos, showing livestock, or even fashion. I can foresee how much fun this internship will be this summer!

Hailey Gillespie

My name is Hailey Gillespie, and I am the 4-H Youth Development summer intern in Anderson County this summer. Over the last several years, I have been an active member of the Seekers Not Slackers 4-H Club and Anderson County FFA. In 4-H, I was involved in numerous projects, but the sheep project was always my favorite.

Currently, I am a Fort Scott Community College Livestock Judging Team member while I work towards my associate degree. After Fort Scott, I plan to transfer to Kansas State University. I am so excited to be working with youth over the summer!

Ethan Hatfield

Hi, my name is Ethan Hatfield and I am the 4-H Youth Development intern for Franklin County. I was born and raised in Pomona, Kan., where our family runs a small Hereford cattle operation. Throughout 4-H, I have been involved in numerous projects and events, but the one I enjoyed the most was showing cattle.

I am currently attending Kansas State University with a biomedical engineering degree on the pre-med track. My future career goal is to work as a family physician in a rural area. I’m looking forward to all the fun and great experience we have planned this summer.”

For more information about the Bicycle SPIN program, contact the Frontier Extension office at Ottawa, 785-229-3520, or inquire at a local library.

Eat Well to Be Well: Take practical steps for improving poor digestion

Life is usually good when our gut feels good – no bloating, diarrhea, gas or constipation. But when those symptoms rear their ugly head, and for many they do, suddenly your happy-go-lucky life has just taken a turn down the wrong road.

Having a gut that works like a charm the majority, if not all of the time, is one of life’s most valuable health assets. When tummy troubles are under control, we can enjoy life much more. Luckily, good gut health and the ability to digest what we eat without worry can be achieved by most of us when specific steps are taken.

Causes of poor digestion

There can be several reasons why we may experience poor digestion. Here are some common ones many may have:

  • Taking too many over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Eating too many sugary foods and beverages or refined carbohydrates.
  • Too much “bad” bacteria instead of “good” bacteria.
  • Stress.
  • Environmental contaminants.

Signs of poor digestion

Many of us associate poor digestion with the typical symptoms of bloating, gassiness, constipation, or diarrhea. But poor gut health can make itself known by causing other symptoms outside of our abdomen, such as joint pain, unexplained headaches, fibromyalgia, skin problems, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program to begin

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is an eight-week exercise program presented by K-State Research and Extension and geared toward older adults and sedentary middle-aged adults. The goal of the evidence-based program is to improve health, quality of life, and maintain independence through strength training.

Adults can begin to lose muscle mass, even in their early 30s. And, in their 50s, adults can see the decline in muscle mass really begin to accelerate. Older adults, however, are sometimes reluctant to start strengthening activities to counter the effects of aging on their bodies. The idea of going to the gym or not knowing the proper exercises to do at home can keep people from starting.

The Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program addresses these concerns by providing an environment where older adults can learn how to strengthen their muscles from certified instructors. Participants in the program meet for one hour, twice a week for eight weeks. Each session includes warm-up exercises, simple strengthening exercises with and without weights, and cool-down stretches. Class members are also encouraged to do the exercises on their own once more per week. Over the eight weeks, participants learn the exercises and begin to improve strength and balance. After eight weeks, participants are encouraged to continue the program at home or with a community group.

The potential benefits of strength training include a decrease in arthritis pain, weight maintenance, and a reduction in the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Stress management and improvement in sleep quality are other potential benefits.

The program will be offered in the Frontier Extension District from June 1-July 22, 2022, in Lyndon. The class will meet weekly 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, at the Lyndon Community Center, 204 Topeka Ave., Lyndon, Kan.

Registration is requested by May 31 and the cost to participate is $20. For those 60 and older, the cost to participate is free of charge due to a grant through the East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging.

Eat Well to Be Well Recipe: Oven-Roasted Lemon Parmesan Asparagus

Effortless, this side dish bursts with delicious hints of lemon, garlic, and Parmesan when perfectly paired with asparagus. Here’s a recipe that brings out the best in this perennial veggie by roasting. Easy and quick to make and tastes incredibly good, this recipe you’ll use again and again. Roasting strong-tasting vegetables like asparagus caramelizes the flavor, reducing its natural bitterness. Even the pickiest of eaters will find a liking to roasted asparagus.

Most grocery stores stock asparagus year-round. However, April and May are the peak months when asparagus is at its best. Typically we think of the color green with asparagus, but it also comes in white and purple. White asparagus tastes similar to its green cousin, while purple asparagus is much sweeter.

Eat Well to Be Well: Asparagus, a perennial spring favorite

One of the most sought-after vegetables usually signaling the arrival of spring is asparagus. Farmers markets and supermarkets are brimming with this “king of vegetables,” aptly named by France’s King Louis XIV, who cultivated them in greenhouses so he could enjoy them throughout the year.

This tender perennial stem vegetable belonging to the Asparagaceae family was considered a prized delicacy by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Asparagus is closely related to Liliaceae plants, which also include onions and garlic. Asparagus is believed have originated along the coastal regions of the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor regions, and is considered one of the oldest known vegetables.

Health benefits of asparagus

Asparagus is naturally rich in many healthy nutrients and compounds we can take advantage of. Therefore, this “king of vegetables” is a must-buy not only for its delicious flavor but to obtain its powerful nutritional benefits:

DEA hosts 22nd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office will participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 22nd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, 2022. This bi-annual event offers free, anonymous disposal of unneeded medications at more than 4,000 local drop-off locations nationwide.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office, 131 W. 14th St., Lyndon, Kan., will serve as a drop off point on Drug Take Back Day, but Osage County Sheriff Chris Wells reminds citizens that medications are also accepted at the sheriff’s office any time during business hours.

More than 230 law enforcement agencies within DEA St. Louis Division are hosting collection sites this April.

“Disposing of unneeded medications can help prevent drugs from being misused,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Overdose deaths continue to hit tragic record highs. I encourage everyone to dispose of unneeded prescription medications now.”

DEA’s St. Louis Division, which includes the states of Missouri and Kansas, as well as southern Illinois, collected a total of 37,189 pounds during the Oct. 23 Drug Take Back Day, in 2021.

According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a majority of people who misused a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend.

Eat Well to Be Well: Grocery shoppers can use money saving strategies as inflation soars

Stocking up on healthy staples and reducing food waste are just a couple of strategies to help you with rising prices

Soaring inflation is hitting many consumers hard while buying groceries for their families. From snack foods like chips and cookies to everyday items like milk and meat, food prices are rising up and down the supermarket aisles across the United States. Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs have had some of the highest price increases. According to the latest Consumer Price Index data from early 2022, overall inflation rates rose to 6.8 percent over the previous year, marking the fastest annual increase in the inflation rate since June 1982.

Depending on where you live, many shoppers are also dealing with countless food product shortages, often due to widespread supply chain disruptions. This double whammy of inflation paired with food shortages is particularly concerning since eating is a basic human need.

Even before inflation arrived, many families struggled to feed their families nutritious foods. Now, with food prices continuing to rise, it’s more important than ever to have a plan of action on ways to cut costs and still eat healthy.

Here’s at look at shopping strategies to help save on food while still making nutritious meals:

Delayed colorectal cancer screenings result in decreased survival rate

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr. Balaji Datti, KMCPA, Topeka

Colorectal cancer is the second most common leading cause of cancer-related deaths and the third most diagnosed cancer in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates a diagnosis of about 151,030 new cases of colorectal cancers in the year 2022.

Colonoscopy has been the gold standard of screening tests for colon cancer for over three decades now. Screening saves lives by preventing cancer and finding cancers early. Death rates from colorectal cancer have been dropping over the last 20 years largely due to these screenings.

Colon cancers start as small growths called polyps, that can eventually grow into cancer over years. Polyps can be identified during testing, especially with a colonoscopy. If found small, polyps can be removed completely to prevent cancer. If they are large, they can be sampled and surgically removed, treating cancer at an early stage. Because not enough people are getting screened, only about four in 10 are being diagnosed at an early stage. Early-stage cancer detection has a five-year survival rate of 90 percent.

With the onset of the global pandemic of COVID-19 infection since early 2020, there has been a dramatic decrease in patient utilization of health care facilities for inpatient and outpatient care. This is due to various reasons, including local mandatory shutdowns of non-emergency services, shortage of health care personnel, shortage of personal protective equipment, and concern for spread of the infection. One specific consequence of this has been a decline in cancer screenings. Any delay in diagnosis could have a major impact on the five-year survival rate for patients. This amounts to a significant physical, mental, and financial burden.

Eat Well to Be Well Recipe: Comforting tomato veggie split pea soup

Take stock of what makes soup so soothing and satisfying

A warm bowl of soup is a classic comfort food. Just the sight, smell, and feel of holding a cup of steaming soup makes cold winter weather pleasantly cozy. No matter what season, soup is always a good choice. When brimming with nutritious veggies, soup makes a wholesome, hearty vegetarian meal with great texture and taste. Pair soup with crusty bread making it an easy meal when in a hurry.

At this point, go ahead and jump to the recipe, if you like. But, if you want to know why a warm bowl of soup is special, read on. A pot of soup simmering on the stove offers more than a spoonful of comfort. It’s also a satisfying and nourishing meal loaded with health benefits. Here’s a look at what soup has to offer:

Eat Well to Be Well: Aging healthily is possible and starts with a healthy gut

The secret to successful aging may rely on a changing gut microbiome

How well are you aging? Good, fair, or poor?

The passage of time is out of your control but how you age is a different story. No matter how many birthdays you celebrate, your biological age can either be “younger” or “older” than your chronological age. And guess what? Aging healthily begins in your gut, starting with an overall healthy composition of gut microbes.

Zooming in on gut health 

Your gastrointestinal tract is teeming with trillions of microbes composed of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These amazingly efficient microbes work round the clock keeping you healthy. Their jobs include digesting and absorbing food, manufacturing vitamins and minerals, and protecting against invasion of harmful microbes. Sounds good but that’s not all. Healthy gut bacteria also influences your sleep, brain health, heart health and cancer risk.

What about immunity? Yes, a strong immune system depends on gut health too. Seventy percent of the immune system is intimately intertwined inhabiting the gut. What’s present in the gut determines the health of your immune system.

Aging well with good gut health

Research is now showing that how you age may depend on these microbes nestled within in your gastrointestinal tract.

A 2021 study published in Nature Metabolism, may have found a key component of healthy aging. The secret? Older adults, whose mix of gut microbes changed the most over time, lived longer and healthier than people with less change.

The study did not prove that having a diverse gut microbiome was responsible for people living longer. Rather, simply having an eclectic mix of micro biota was associated with people who could walk faster, had greater mobility, higher vitamin D levels, and reduced cholesterol levels. The ability to walk fast and have healthy blood lipid levels are factors already associated with a longer lifespan.

Living a healthy, long life doesn’t just happen. It takes some work and know-how getting from point A to point B. Living a healthy lifestyle is a good start. Setting achievable and consistent lifestyle goals is your guide to aging healthily.

Here are steps to take:

KDHE, FDA warn consumers to not use recalled powdered infant formulas

TOPEKA, Kan. – Feb. 17, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration announced it is investigating complaints of infant illness related to products from Abbott’s Nutrition’s Sturgis, Mich., facility. Three brands of powdered infant formula were recalled for possible Cronobacter contamination. As a result of the ongoing investigation, the FDA is alerting consumers to avoid purchasing or using certain powdered infant formula products produced at this facility.

The FDA is advising consumers not to use Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare powdered infant formulas if the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; and the code on the container contains K8, SH or Z2; and the expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

Abbott has initiated a voluntary recall of certain powdered infant formulas.

Eat Well to Be Well Recipe: Baked Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries

If you like recipes that meet your checklist of hearty, healthy, and delicious, this is it.  Featuring seasonal food superstars, including butternut squash, apples, and cranberries, your senses of sight, smell, and taste are in for a pleasing palate sensation.

There’s something about seasonable fall and winter flavors. For me, it’s similar to the feeling of a cozy, warm blanket wrapped around you on a chilly evening. Inviting, fragrant, and flavorful, this good-for-you comfort food side dish is ideal for family get-togethers.

Comfort food and “nutrient-rich” usually don’t go together. But in this recipe, each ingredient tastefully coexists while providing various nutrients to boot.

Basics about butternut squash

The headliner of this recipe is butternut squash. This winter squash is shaped like an elongated pear, is a member of the cucurbitaceous family. Squash goes back a long ways, 10,000 years ago, to its origin in Mexico and Central America. In fact, the word “squash” comes from the Native American word askutasquash, which means uncooked or eaten raw.

Unsure of what butternut squash tastes like? If you like the taste of sweet potatoes or carrots, you’ll like butternut squash, too.

Health wise, butternut squash is a winner. One cup is packed with more than 100 percent of your daily needs of vitamin A and nearly 40 percent of vitamin C. It’s also good for hydration as one cup is approximately 87 percent water.

Eat Well to Be Well: 22 simple ways to be healthier in 2022

Say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022! Father Time keeps ticking away with the arrival of another New Year with new possibilities affecting your life and health. Speaking of health, what plans do you have for restoring or maintaining your health this coming year and what steps will you take to reach your goals?

One thing we learned over the past two years is good health matters. COVID-19 continues to take a toll, especially on individuals with chronic health conditions, a blunt reminder that getting and staying healthy has always had distinct advantages. However, gaining good health doesn’t just happen. It takes daily dedication of practicing regular healthy habits with a lot of self-discipline added to this mix.

To start your New Year with good health in mind, here’s a list of 22 simple ways to get healthier with minimal effort:

1. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. High in nutrients, low in calories and carbohydrates, these valuable veggies include asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, peppers, radishes, squash, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and zucchini.

2. Drink more water. Water is calorie and sugar-free and essential for good health. A good guide for daily water intake is to divide your weight in half and aim for that number in fluid ounces. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds should aim for at least 75 ounces or about nine, 8-ounce glasses a day.

3. Stay flexible. Every day, do some sort of stretching routine to keep your body and joints flexible and strong.

4. Dedicate at least 5 minutes of your lunch break to walking. This will keep you more active and is a great stress reliever and mood enhancer.

5. Drink green tea. One of the healthiest beverages you can drink, green tea is packed with antioxidants helping you fight free radicals shown to increase disease and speed aging.

6. Brush and floss your teeth. Get in the habit of brushing and flossing twice a day.

7. Avoid sugar beverages. Sugary sodas are bad for your health and loaded with added sugar. If you drink a lot of soda, opt for healthier beverages such as water, unsweetened tea, coffee, or green tea.

8. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier. By the end of the week, you’ll add an extra 70 minutes of sleep. Keep it up all year and you’ll have slept 60 hours more. Imagine how well-rested you’ll feel.

9. Make a grocery list before you shop. This can help you make healthier decisions when shopping and prevent impulse buying. Studies have also shown that grocery lists can help you eat healthier.

10. Limit screen time. This includes screen usage from cell phones, TV, computers, laptops, and other devices. Estimate your average screen time per day and aim to reduce it by half.

Eat Well to Be Well: Enjoy these top 12 foods to energize your day

When feeling drained of get-up-and-go, it’s tempting to down an energy drink or grab a candy bar. These choices often do provide a quick, short burst of energy you need. But beware – sugary drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel (sugar) into your blood too quickly. Instead of long-lasting energy, that sugar spike will soon come crashing down, leaving you tired and hungry once again.

Try instead to choose foods that boost energy levels and have all-day staying. These same foods should also be rich sources of protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Here are 12 healthy food ideas to amplify your energy level from sluggish to energized staying-power:

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a tried and true favorite for sustained stamina. The energy boost comes from a combination healthy fat, protein, and fiber, helping satisfy hunger and keeping blood sugar stable. Choose all-natural peanut butter without added sugar and stick to a 2 tablespoon serving size.

Air-popped popcorn

Popcorn is a high-fiber, whole-grain treat and a smarter choice than a bag of high-fat, overly salted potato chips. The popped kernels provide volume for quieting hunger longer than other snack foods. Stay away from high-fat microwave popcorn and instead pop your own kernels seasoned with herbs and spices.

Almonds

This superstar snack food provides important nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins, helping to convert food to energy. When magnesium levels are low, you’ll tire more easily, particularly during exercise. A lack of B vitamins can lead to fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration. All it takes is about 1 ounce or 23 nuts to be considered a serving.

SOS offers victims assistance day or night with 24-hour help line

Did you know every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted? Are you aware that more than 90 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows?

SOS Inc., which provides services in Chase, Coffey, Lyon, Morris, and Osage counties, is reminding everyone that SOS advocates are here to support victims with free and confidential services. SOS Crisis Services has 14 advocates who work in the five-county area, serving adult and child victims of sexual assault and domestic violence by offering emotional support, presenting them with options, and assisting victims with access to community resources, such as therapy. Advocacy services can also include help navigating the processes and systems within medical services, law enforcement, and prosecution. SOS services are available regardless of the circumstances of the assault, whether the victim chooses to involve law enforcement or not, and at any time following the assault – even years after. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), sexual violence can be any unwanted sexual act done by one person to another, including unwanted touching of a sexual nature such as kissing, fondling, oral sex, or intercourse.

Advocates can respond to aid victims immediately after a sexual assault and help those who are experiencing past trauma.

“Those feelings can only be masked for so long before they come back in other ways,” said Jen Ogleby, Sexual Assault Advocate with SOS. “Healing is a very personal thing. There is no correct way or timeline.”

“The only things that need to be said to someone disclosing that they have been assaulted are, ‘I believe you,’ ‘I am sorry this happened to you,’ and ‘This was not your fault,’” Ogleby said. “Those statements can be the difference between a survivor trying to numb those feelings in potentially destructive ways or finding the strength and power within themselves to not allow that horrific moment to define the rest of their lives.”

Victims of sexual assault are more likely to experience emotional challenges than non-victims, according to RAINN. Sexual assault victims are nearly four times more likely to experience PTSD as adults. Victims of sexual assault are about three times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults.

Additionally, only about two percent of all sexual assault accusations reported to the police turn out to be false; only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. That means about three out of four go unreported; 93 percent of sexual assaults are committed by somebody the victim knows.

SOS services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through the SOS 24-hour helpline 620-342-1870 or 800-825-1295.

Eat Well to Be Well: Eating your way to bladder health

Bladder health should be a top priority for all of us, ranking alongside heart, brain, and bone health. And one way to promote bladder health is by making smart food choices. From urinary incontinence to overactive bladder, your dietary choices are an important part and play a supporting role of fending off these quality-of-life issues. That’s because what you eat and drink directly affects your bladder and it’s functioning.

Get to know your bladder

Before discussing food and dietary changes helping manage bladder and urinary issues, let’s get to know your bladder better.

Every single day, all of us use our bladder multiple times. Located in the lower abdomen, the bladder is a hollow organ, much like a balloon, that stores urine. It is part of the urinary system, which also includes the kidneys, ureters, and urethra. Urine contains wastes and extra fluid left over after the body takes what it needs from what we eat and drink.

Over time, the bladder can change. The elastic bladder tissue may toughen and become less stretchy. A less stretchy bladder cannot hold as much urine as before and might make you go to the bathroom more often. The bladder wall and pelvic floor muscles may weaken, making it harder to empty the bladder fully and causing urine to leak.

Because bladder problems are common and can disrupt day-to-day activities, you may find yourself avoiding social situations or having a hard time completing tasks at home or at work.

Top dietary habits your bladder will love

To achieve and maintain good bladder health, a good start is by what you eat and drink. Adopt the following healthy bladder dietary habits to help avoid overactive bladder and urinary incontinence:

Stay well hydrated

Up to one third of the water we consume comes from food like fruits, veggies, and soup. So how much water do you need to drink each day? As a general rule of thumb, take your weight in pounds and divide it by two, and that’s the number of ounces of water you should consume daily. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you should aim to drink 80 ounces of water every day.

Why is staying hydrated important for urological health? Drinking sufficient water is essential for helping balance salts and sugars within the body and to flush out toxins and wastes through the urinary system. When dehydrated, the buildup of minerals can irritate the lining of your bladder and the concentration of wastes can lead to frequent and urgent urination or pelvic pain.

Eat Well to Be Well Recipe: Maple-Poached Pears

Simple and perfectly delicious, a fiber-rich stewed pear is one of the healthiest desserts you can serve after a meal

Before I talk about this fabulous recipe, let’s talk first about the simple pear itself.

Pears are one of the most underrated and overlooked fruits around. Maybe it’s because they lack the eye-catching colors of strawberries or watermelon and their flavor is more subtle compared to the distinctive taste of a kiwi or a papaya. And when it comes to popularity, pears are just … so-so. Pears don’t even rank in the top five favorite fruits of Americans, which by the way are bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries, and oranges, respectively.

But don’t let that stop you from trying out this recipe! A pear slowly cooked in rich maple syrup surrounded by cinnamon sticks is a decadent dessert showcasing this fruit’s blend of sophistication and sweetness that rivals a baked apple.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve eaten a pear, here’s your opportunity. From September through January (right now!) is when pears are at their peak. And when in season – watch out! An in-season ripe pear’s unique taste and texture range from succulent to buttery to a mellow sweetness – a true culinary delight.

Nutritionally, this humble fruit is top notch for several reasons:

Pears are an excellent source of fiber. A medium-sized pear provides 6 grams of fiber – the majority found in the skin – equal to about 21 percent of the recommended daily value. This makes pears one of the best sources of fiber of all fruits.

Pears are fat free and cholesterol free. By including more pears in your diet, you will replace higher fat foods helping lower your overall intake of fat and cholesterol. This may help reduce your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

Pears are sodium free, too. Eating more sodium free foods, like a pear, just makes sense since most Americans over-consume sodium.

Pears are a good source of vitamin C, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. A medium-sized pear provides about 7 mg or 8 percent of the daily value for the antioxidant vitamin C. Pears also naturally contain various phytonutrients and other antioxidants supporting good health. Choose pears with vibrantly colored skins of various pear varieties.

Not sure which variety of pear is best for cooking or how to store pears, here are tips you need to know:

  • Firmer varieties like Bosc and Anjou are best for cooking while Bartlett and Comice are best raw.
  • Keep pears out on the counter until they are ripe. Then store in the refrigerator.
  • To determine ripeness, gently press near the stem with your thumb; if it gives slightly, it’s ready.
  • Puree pears into smoothies, sauces, and dressing to add sweet flavor.
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