Love Your Heart!

HERO red pear with heart check logoThis Valentine’s Day, love your heart! Have you heard of phenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants? Phenols and flavonoids are families of phytonutrients, nonessential nutrients found in plant foods that provide color, flavor, and health benefits, particularly as antioxidants. In the body, antioxidants inhibit molecules that cause damage to body cells. Because of these antioxidants and other nutrients, increased fruit and vegetable consumption has been linked to decreased risk for many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. Does this mean pears are good for your heart?

Well, a systematic review of pears and health published in the November/December 2015 issue of Nutrition Today supports what I’ve been saying all along. To be specific, pears contain many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C (an antioxidant!), potassium, and phytonutrients that act as antioxidants – in particular, pears provide between 27 and 41mg of phenolic compounds per 100 grams (1 small pear). Many antioxidants are found in pears, and those with high phenolic and flavonoid contents – such as the anthocyanin in the skin of red pears – had significantly higher antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. Does this mean that pears may fight heart disease? It’s possible. One study by Mink et al included in the review found that dietary intake of foods rich in flavonoids, particularly pears and apples, was associated with a reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

Did you know that the Anjou and Red Anjou pear was recently certified as a Heart-Healthy Food by the American Heart Association? So this Valentine’s Day when you and your loved ones are surrounded by love and candy hearts, do something good for your actual heart and eat a pear!

USA Pears Hit the Slopes

It may be summer, but there’s still snow on the mountains, and you can bet Olympic skier Torin Koos is there to enjoy it!

From June 18–22, skiers of all ages joined Torin on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon to brush up on their skiing skills and have fun at Bend Camp.

Bend Camp is a long-running tradition that invites Nordic skiers to train on snow and land with professional skiers. This year, skiers including Torin, Lars Flora, and Kristina Strandberg instructed campers, and Torin invited USA Pears to camp, too!

Perry poses with the group at Bend Camp.

As you can see, Perry was happy to join in the fun—he even made a new four-legged friend! It was a pear-fect start to the summer.

Go for the Gold with Pears!

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After the last few weeks of winter games, do you have the Olympic spirit? Are you itching to try a new sport? Maybe you’re thinking about hitting the slopes, trail, or the ice. Now, when you’re motivated, is the time to try something new! But just like in summer, safe and effective physical activity has a few requirements. Whichever activity you choose, you may want to play it safe by opting for a lesson, and always dress in layers to stay warm. Staying hydrated is crucial for regulating body temperature. In the winter you may not feel like you are losing as much moisture. But, you are still losing moisture through sweat and respiration, especially if you are active at higher altitudes (e.g., ski slopes). It’s also imperative to energize your body with proper nutrition! Your body needs carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals before, during, and after activity to perform at its best and to replenish tissues. Carbohydrates not only pump up your muscles, but the energy they provide fuels circulation, breathing, and temperature regulation. Micronutrients are needed to help the tissues use energy, and some nutrients, like vitamin C, limit muscle soreness and help repair tissues after they have been exhausted.

4x6-boscTake a cue from Olympic skier Torin Koos and fuel up with pears! Pears provide the optimal balance of carbohydrates and micronutrients to fuel workouts and replenish tired bodies. Pears are a good source of vitamin C, necessary for proper recovery, and at around 100 calories apiece pears are perfect for a pre or post-workout snack. And if you’re strapping on your skis or board and hitting the powder, pears are portable and perfectly portioned for snacking. So, don’t delay; grab a pear and go for the gold!

The Olympian’s Quest: Part One

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In just four days, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games will commence.  You can be sure we’ll be pulling for U.S. Ski Team member Torin Koos, a cross-country skier we’re extremely proud to sponsor.  As a native of Leavenworth, Washington, Torin grew up in the heart of pear country.  He checks in with us regularly with postcards, photos, training videos, and his reflections on training and competing in the Olympics, a dream he’s had since he was a child. 

In addition to his love for skiing, Torin also enjoys writing.  In fact, he’s in the process of getting a master’s degree in communications at Westminster College.  He recently sent us an article called “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters” which we’re very pleased to share with you.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters

It’s a quiet Sunday night as I begin to write. At first it’s all stuttering and stopping, cross and erasing. The creative complexity of writing, of making language flow from thought, escapes me. I’m trying too hard. I’m thinking too grand.

I go back to the basics. Write about what you know. Use single, short declarative sentences. Always seek the active voice. Show, don’t tell. Write. Put pen to paper. Then, only then, let the inner copy writer’s voice come out.

Finally it comes. Yes, this is it. If I had to compose a group of words to live by, these might be mine.

To Seek, To Strive, To Find, and To Never Yield

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Part One:  To Seek…

It’s on the outskirts of the Banff National Park where I find myself for the last days of preparation before heading West to Whistler. Isn’t this the way it always is, headed West, leaving the stepping stones behind for the land of new adventures and experiences? In my mind’s eye I can see the big mountains as I can breathe in the wet, slightly salty maritime air. Ah, sometimes life’s too good, isn’t it?

Writing these last lines reminds me about what it’s all about – the universal appeal of sport and the Olympian’s quest. It’s to fully inhabit the most traditional and hallowed sense of the word amateur; a lover of. What a feeling it is to wake up every morning, pop out of bed, let out a big, boisterous Shazaam! and get right to it, loving every minute of the process. Maybe it’s encouraging to know (somehow, it is for me anyways) that this state of perfection is beyond most Olympian’s daily way and means. This, though, is the personal standard. The one most worth striving for. When you get to this level, hold it, cherish it, nourish it, share it and carry it’s memory with you always. I’ll try to do the same.

A friend says, “It’s so easy to die before the fact of it.” This reminds me of the Jack London penned poem, the work urging one to be the spark that burns out in a brilliant blaze, to be that meteor, every atom in magnificent glow.

To this I say, raise high that roof beam, carpenters! To use every fibre of our bodies in taxing effort, to beat back the deadening effect of habit, to abhor merely existing and instead shine, shine, shine like that exploding star shooting across the dark night sky.

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Show Torin Your Support!

Visit the new USA Pears store, at www.usapearsmarketplace.org to purchase a limited edition Torin Koos trading pin.  All proceeds from pin sales will benefit one of Torin’s favorite charities, The Boys and Girls Club!

True to His Roots

Here’s the first of several videos I’ll be posting of Torin Koos, the cross-country skier we proudly sponsor.  Torin grew up in running, skiing and working in the pear orchards near Leavenworth, Washington.  In less than two months he’ll be representing  U.S.A. in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and this short video gives you a peak at what it’s like to train for the winter games.  Stay tuned for some exciting things we’ll be doing to show our support for Torin as he goes for the gold!

P.S.  Torin’s favorite pre-race breakfast includes a big bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar and slices of Green Anjou pears.  It’s no wonder we love him!

100 Days ’til the XXI Olympic Winter Games!

koos0107aIt’s tough to tell in this photo, but there’s a pear embroidered on this guy’s cap, and that’s because USA Pears is an official headgear sponsor of Olympic athlete Torin Koos.  In 100 days, he’ll be in Vancouver, B.C. to cross-country ski his heart out for the gold!

Torin grew up in Leavenworth, Washington, which is located in the Wenatchee growing district that’s world famous for pears.  Click here to read an interview where Torin professes his love for skiing and pears, and here to read an article posted today on NBCOlympics.com, where Torin talks about his sport and the upcoming winter games.

Check back for more updates on Torin’s quest for the gold!

Pack a Pear!

redbartlett-energy-packa-pearIn Colorado, locals have a summer passion for climbing fourteeners, mountains taller than 14,000 feet. In fact, Colorado has more than 50 fourteeners! Over this past weekend, my husband and I thought we would be adventurous and give Mt. Elbert a shot; at 14,433 feet it is the tallest mountain in the Rockies. It was a strenuous climb that took us a total of seven and a half hours, but the summit view was well worth it!

One of the necessities of taking on any strenuous activity is fueling the body. When hiking, biking, running, or partaking in any activity for an extended period, the body needs energy from carbohydrates to keep going. Glucose, the primary energy source used by the body, is stored in the liver and muscles and circulates in the blood to continually fuel the tissues. This energy allows the muscles and organs to help you up the mountain or down the road. After a while, if immediate stores of glucose are exhausted, you may feel sluggish and have difficulty continuing. This is what exercise professionals call “hitting the wall;” it means the body has run out of easily accessible energy, and needs a quick boost to keep going.

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Almost time to refuel!

Indeed, fruit is a great choice for refueling when active. Like most fruit, pears contain a healthy dose of energy – about 100 calories per medium pear. Pears contain small amounts of potassium and other electrolytes, nutrients required for muscle contraction that are lost during perspiration. As well, pears contain micronutrients that aid the body’s fuel cycle. Additionally, pears are portable and make an easy take along snack for any activity. They are compact, fresh and palate-pleasing, leave little waste to carry, and travel well.

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Wall? What wall?! 14,000 feet and climbing

Along the route to the top of Mt. Elbert, we took several breaks to rest, rehydrate, and refuel. We brought many energizing snacks, but the most refreshing were definitely the Red Bartlett pears we munched on the summit. After about four and a half hours to reach the top, parched and hungry, we relaxed, reveled in the view, and relished every bite of our succulent pears. Indeed, at that moment, nothing could have tasted better. So the next time you head out the door for some summer fun and need a quick and refreshing burst of energy, pack a pear for pep!

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Win a Pear Packer!

P.S.  If you’re worried about squishing your nice, ripe pear when you’re on the go, we have just the solution!  Our sturdy and reusable Pear Packer lets you pack fresh, ready to eat pears in school lunches, briefcases, backpacks and more.  They eliminate the “squish factor” that ready to eat pears can suffer when taken on the go, and are made from recyclable plastic.  The first five people to leave a comment on this post will be contacted and sent a FREE set of four Pear Packers!  What are you waiting for?  Leave us a comment!
 

Pears + Olympic Skier Torin Koos

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USA Pears is proud sponsor of Torin Koos, a two-time Olympian who grew up in Leavenworth, Washington.   For those of you who aren’t familiar with the area, Leavenworth is located about 20 miles northwest of Wenatchee, in the heart of this major pear-producing region.  Check out some of Torin’s stats, and look for more about this pear-loving athlete as he trains for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics!

USA Pears at the Boston Marathon!

If you’re in Boston April 17-19, be sure to swing by the USA Pears booth at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo.  We’ll be sampling fresh pears, handing out recipes, answering questions about pears, and more!  The Expo is open to the public and admission is free. The Hynes Convention Center is located just a quarter-mile from the Boston Marathon finish line in Copley Square.  Last year, over 80,000 people attended…we hope to see you there!