Pineapples are perhaps some of the easiest to recognize tropical fruits out there, that together with their unusual shape and delicious taste, make for a long-lasting and powerful memory in people’s minds.
An Overview of the Pineapple
Pineapples have a unique anatomy that can be better explained scientifically: the fruit is actually made of many individual berries that grow together around a central core. Each pineapple scale is thus an individual flower and the fruit itself is part of the bromeliad family.
It seems the pineapple originated in Brazil in South America, after which it later traveled to Europe as well. There, on the Old Continent, it soon became popular among the royal families and the elite, thanks to its exquisite taste and unusual look.
James Dole is the person to be thankful to for the popularization of the pineapple, since he strived tremendously to get this fruit to become canned and affordable throughout the USA. He developed a vast pineapple plantation in Hawaii, after which he started canning the pineapple and buying magazine ads to promote this new way and affordable way to consume this exotic fruit. It was under these circumstances and towards this personal mission that James Dole founded the Dole Food Company, whose stickers and logo many people still recognize today in supermarkets on bananas, pineapples and other fruits.
Southeast Asia is currently the world’s largest pineapple producer in the world. Pineapples take quite some time to grow, since their development process on the plant is fairly slow – altogether it takes about two years for the plant to grow the pineapple fruit. This is one of the reasons why pineapple is also highly-valued in the fruit industry and among fruit lovers everywhere.
The pineapple got its name due to its striking resemblance to pine cones, the reproductive organs of conifer trees. The first recording of this English word was in 1398, which attests to the incredible resilience and popularity of this fruit throughout the centuries. Nowadays pineapples are America’s second favorite tropical fruits, after bananas. The season for pineapples typically runs from March through June – however you can literally find them in supermarkets any time of the year.
The shape of the pineapple is that of a wide cylinder and the outer rough and spiny surface comprises a myriad different ‘eyes’. The outer skin may be green, brown or yellow and the top of the pineapple is adorned with a regal crown of blue-green leaves. You can expect the pineapple to be a lot sweeter towards the bottom of the fruit, where the sugar content is a lot higher.
What’s In a Pineapple?
Pineapples are not only incredibly alluring through their magnificent taste and impressive aspect, but they’re also some of nature’s finest fruits in terms of nutrition. The health benefits of this fruit have been widely discussed and you can see why below, where we’ll take a closer look at a pineapple’s nutritional value. Having said this, by eating a cup of pineapple chunks (165g), you can expect to benefit from the following nutrients:
- 21.6 g of carbohydrates
- 142 g water – This impressive amount of water per one serving makes pineapple an extremely hydrating fruit.
- 2% of the DRV (Daily Recommended Value) protein
- 2% of the DRV vitamin A – This vitamin is essential in maintaining the health of the eyes, protecting them from the inevitable damage associated with aging.
- 131% of the DRV vitamin C – As you can see, pineapple contains even more vitamin C than your daily recommended dose. This vitamin is essential in building, maintaining and repairing tissues in the body. It also plays a key part in forming collagen and maintaining the health of your blood cells. Vitamin C is after all an antioxidant, which means that it will protect you from the toxic impact that a heavily polluted environment may have on you, together with smoking and alcohol.
- 1% of the DRV vitamin K – this vitamin is responsible for the healthy healing of injuries and cuts. It promotes proper blood clotting, so you don’t lose a lot of blood when you suffer an injury. Vitamin K also helps regulate blood flow in menstrual periods.
- 9% of the DRV thiamine or vitamin B1 – This vitamin supports the healthy flow of electrolytes into and out of the muscle and nerve cells. Apart from this, it also helps prevent complications from occurring in the brain and nervous system, heart, intestines and muscles.
- 3% of the DRV riboflavin or vitamin B2 – This helps the body manage its energy supply. It also enables oxygen to be more efficiently used in the body.
- 4% of the DRV niacin or vitamin B3 – Vitamin B3 helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood, ease arthritis and boost brain function.
- 9% of the DRV vitamin B6 – This vitamin may reduce symptoms of depression and may help treat anemia, among other benefits.
- 7% of the DRV folate or vitamin B9 – This vitamin helps produce red blood cells in the body, while also stimulating DNA synthesis, which in turn controls heredity.
- 4% of the DRV pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 – Like all B vitamins, this vitamin also helps the body efficiently convert food into energy.
- 2% of the DRV calcium – This is the most important mineral for the health of your bone system. It also enables better blood clotting and muscle contraction.
- 3% of the DRV iron – This mineral ensures that oxygen is properly carried through the red blood cells throughout the body.
- 5% of the DRV magnesium – You can count on magnesium to alleviate any symptoms of depression and anxiety, while also supporting proper muscle and nerve function.
- 1% of the DRV phosphorus – This mineral’s main function is in forming healthy bones and teeth. It also helps the body efficiently use carbs and fats.
- 5% of the DRV potassium – When you have a sufficient potassium intake in the body, you can rest assured your fluid levels are regulated, as well as your nerve signals and muscle contractions.
- 1% of the DRV zinc – This mineral helps boost your immune system and metabolism function.
- 9% of the DRV copper – Copper helps prevent certain cardiovascular diseases and plays an important role in energy production.
- 76% of the DRV manganese – although pretty underrated, this mineral is extremely important in metabolizing carbs, amino acids and cholesterol, as well as in bone development. Manganese may also help prevent osteoporosis and decrease epileptic seizures, while also managing blood sugar levels.
One of the most important attributes of the pineapple is that it contains an impressive amount of antioxidants, making it earn its rightful place among the top best antioxidant fruits out there.
Vitamin C, phenolic acids and flavonoids are especially abundant in pineapples, which means your body will be more thoroughly protected against the harmful impact of free radicals in the body. These are toxic compounds that accelerate the natural aging process of the body and they often stem from a polluted environment, smoking or drinking alcohol.
Apart from this, studies such as Antioxidant and Antiproliferative Activities of Common Fruits, show that many of the antioxidants in pineapples are bound, which means their positive effects are more long-lasting and more resilient in harsh bodily conditions.
Pineapples also contain a set of digestive enzymes called bromelain. These are especially useful to those suffering from pancreatic insufficiency, a serious condition where the pancreas simply cannot create enough digestive enzymes. These patients typically notice better and smoother digestion when taking a digestive enzyme supplement containing bromelain. Pineapple bromelain is also used commercially as a meat tenderizer, since it has the ability to break down tough meat proteins.
The same bromelain makes pineapple an ideal aid in suppressing inflammation in the body and boosting immunity. This is in fact what made this fruit so popular in traditional medicine throughout the centuries. One study, Effects of Canned Pineapple Consumption on Nutritional Status, Immunomodulation, and Physical Health of Selected School Children,
shows that children who regularly ate pineapple showed a decreased risk of both bacterial and viral infections.
Similarly pineapples also help those suffering from arthritis, a condition that involves inflammation in the joints. This condition usually manifests with painful symptoms that makes the patient feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Studies have shown that the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be significantly alleviated by consuming pineapple regularly, thanks to the bromelain it contains. However scientists don’t recommend eating pineapple as a definitive treatment against the painful symptoms of arthritis – if you’re suffering this condition, make sure you also consult your physician.
The anti-inflammatory properties that pineapples display are also tremendously useful in recovering from a surgery or strenuous exercise. Bromelain seems to reduce the markers of inflammation and will help recover the damaged muscle tissue.
These beneficial properties against inflammation and oxidative stress also make pineapples efficient aids in the prevention of cancer. However more studies are needed in order to conclude that pineapple can truly prevent cancer from developing in the body.
Another health condition where pineapple really knows how to shine is IBS.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an embarrassing condition to have. Not many people would admit that they even have this ailment. IBS is often caused by the food you eat. To avoid diarrhea and constipation, a healthy preventive measure is to eat pineapples.
This spiky fruit with many eyes is high in antioxidants and fiber. Best to be eaten ripe to help your digestive system, the pineapple also has bromelain. The unripe pineapple might make your IBS worse. Canned ripe pineapples are also a good alternative.
Other benefits of the pineapple help in regulating hormones in your thyroid and help ease pain felt in arthritis. If you have worms in your intestines, the purgative qualities of the pineapple can give you a hand. It is also helpful when you feel nauseous.
Eating a slice of pineapple after a meal will be good for your digestion and IBS condition. This will lessen gas build-up and help make your bowel movement go smoothly. Do not eat too much though since fiber balls may clog your intestines.
How to Use Pineapple
Pineapple is such a sweet, aromatic and versatile fruit that you can easily get creative with the way you’re consuming it. You can:
- Eat it raw – there’s nothing more satisfying than simply cutting a pineapple up and eating chunks of it as a delicious and refreshing dessert.
Include it in your breakfast – Add pineapple in your morning smoothie and combine with other fruits as your heart desires. Make sure to blend it all with Greek yogurt, the kind that is truly smooth and nutritious.
- Create a salad – That’s right. Pineapples work really well in salads too, since they can give a twist to an otherwise classic recipe and taste. You can, for example, mix roast chicken with almonds, blueberries and pineapple.
- Add pineapple to your burger – This recipe is more representative of Hawaii and it requires you to place a pineapple ring over your beef patty. The resulting taste will be a wonderful and exotic mix that will thrill your palate.
- Make a Hawaiian pizza – The Hawaii pizza is already popular throughout the entire world and it simply means adding chunks of pineapple to an otherwise classic pizza recipe.
Get more creative with your deserts – You can easily create a wonderful fruit salad for yourself, with a mix that contains everything that suits your taste and that will boost your immune system. Pineapple really goes along great with anything. You can also make pineapple muffins, pineapple cakes and the list can go on and on.
- You can juice it – It’s a shame letting your pineapple go to waste, so you can freeze it and later on juice it or include it in smoothies.
It’s really up to you how willing you are to experiment in the kitchen because pineapple tends to add an exotic twist to anything you add it to. This fruit is the perfect zesty, juicy punch to be added to any dish – just try your hand at some of the many pineapple recipes out there.
Ultimately, it’s easy to see why pineapples made such a hype for themselves. They are the definition of tropical fruits, with both the exotic taste and lush appearance, and they are easy to incorporate in mostly any dish you can think of. Apart from this, pineapples can also ease inflammation in the body, leading to a decreased risk of cancer and a decrease in painful arthritis symptoms. Additionally, they also help prevent unpleasant conditions from occurring, such as IBS. What’s not to love about these miracle antioxidant fruits?
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