Pears: the only fruit low in salicylates
Pears are a very special and often underrated fruit. They are extremely useful if you are following a low salicylate or low chemical/failsafe diet as they are the only fruit low in salicylates.
However, pears do contain sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol and excess fructose (more fructose than glucose) that can be an issue for people sensitive to FODMAPs. This makes it tricky when combining both low salicylate, low chemical (failsafe) + low FODMAPs.
Pears can be great for treating constipation, due to the combination of dietary fibre and sorbitol (a natural laxative) and pear juice has often been used in hospitals and aged care facilities with great success.
PEARS ARE LOW IN SALICYLATES
In terms of salicylates, pears stand out as they are the only fruit low in salicylates unlike all the other types of fruits that have been tested.
A go to fruit when following the chemical or failsafe elimination diet.
Ripeness The salicylate content of fruit decreases as the fruit ripens. So to be low in salicylates, the pear needs to be ripe and juicy. If it is a little unripe then the salicylate content will increase and the pear will contain moderate amounts of salicylates rather than low amounts.
This is quite the opposite to amines. Any fruit containing amines such as bananas will see an increase as the fruit ripens. Pears do not contain amines so this is not an issue. Pears are often quite unripe when first bought but will ripen quickly to become ripe and juicy in no time.
Tinned pears Take care with tinned pears for two reasons: 1. Hard bits of tinned pear may be unripe so avoid these bits 2. Tinned pears need to be in syrup only and not pear juice. Read the label carefully to check as most tinned pear will contain pear juice or some other type of juice.
Some Australian tinned pear in syrup examples:
Woolworths: Simply Fruit pear halves in syrup
IGA: Black & Gold (in juice)
Coles: Rhodes in syrup (watch out for hard bits for these)
Dried pears A small amount of dried pears can be used on the failsafe elimination diet but take note:
At risk of preservatives such as sulphites been added (check label or check with vendor for example if at a market)
Avoid skin (some dried pears may contain skin)
Limit amount as some may have been unripe before drying.
Australian dried fruit example: Absoluefruitz freeze- dried pear
To peel or not to peel- that is NOT the question There is not question here if you are limiting your salicylates. Salicylates are found in the skin (peel) and just under the skin in all fruit. Thickly peel pears to keep the salicylate content as low as possible and discard the skin.
Variety of pear
Choose mild tasting pears such as Bartlett, Beurre Bosc, Packham and William. As long as they are ripe and juicy and well peeled- they are good to go!
Avoid rounded shaped pears such as nashi pear or ya which have a higher salicylate content. The ya pear is also known as the Chinese white pear. These type of pears tend to stay crisp and not ripen.
AMOUNT of pear Despite a ripe and juicy, thickly peeled pear being low in salicylates, it is recommended that a limit of 2 pears is eaten on any day for adults, one for children. This includes pear used in baking such as muffins and pear jam which is a concentrated source of pear. Pears are a great way to provide flavour to a low chemical/failsafe elimination diet. It is often used in desserts, cakes, puffins as a jam (the only acceptable jam), as a chutney and even as an egg substitute if eggs are also eliminated from the diet.
Pear Jam The only suitable jam on the food chemical elimination is pear jam. You can make your own pear jam or buy a pure pear jam; Great product = The Gutsy Food Company pear jam, pear sauce or pear + celery chutney. Just remember to include in your daily pear limits.
COMBINING Low chemical + FODMAP elimination
This is quite a tricky thing because lots of salicylate and food chemical elimination recipes include pear in some shape or form. The following options can be considered
To thickly peel one pear and cut up and have over the day to test tolerance: maybe you can tolerate 1/2 pear. Find your limit.
Include a small or medium just ripe banana (no salicylates but moderate in amines) every 2nd or 3rd day. This option depends on the level of strictness in the elimination diet that you can get away with without reducing effectiveness of the diet.
If you do include the banana every 2nd or 3rd day, then review this if the elimination diet does not seem to be working as bananas (just ripe) are moderate in amines and as it ripens, the amines increase significantly. Bananas will increase in amines when cooked.
The other issue is the use of pears in many elimination and failsafe recipes. You might trial the recipe without the pear puree/ingredient, or use less or trial eating very small amounts of the food.
Pear is great, but if you have FODMAP issues you may need to limit how much you have on the failsafe low chemical elimination diet.
RPAH elimination diet handbook: with food and shopping guide. Anne Swain, Velencia Soutter, Robert Loblay, 2011 (revised edition) + personal communication.
Monash University low FODMAP app. Version 2.0.9. Accessed March 2018.
Food-sensitive babies, Joy Anderson, 2016, Specialist Dietetics and Lactation Services.