Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. And indeed pineapples became one of the of the most popular tropical fruits in the world. Actually, they are second only to bananas as America’s favorite tropical fruit. They are delicious, juicy and balance the tastes of sweet and tart.
A short history
Pineapple (Ananas comosus) belongs to the Bromeliaceae family, from which one of its most important compounds, the enzyme bromelain, was named. The plant was indigenous to South America and was first discovered by Columbus in 1493 on the Caribbean island Guadalupe. He brought it back with him to Europe and there were attempts to grow this fruit in Europe, but since this fruit needs tropical climate, it didn’t flourish in this region.
By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their colonies in Asia, Africa and the South Pacific, where the pineapple is still being grown today. Because of its rarity and high price in those times, it was considered as a status item. In the 18th century, pineapples began to be cultivated in Hawaii. Other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico.
The Health Benefits of Pineapple
Here we are going to look at some of the pineapple’s main health benefits and how to use pineapple as a medicine:
The enzyme bromelain, which is extracted from pineapple, is used to treat a number of conditions, but is particularly effective in reducing inflammation from infection and injuries. Bromelain also decreases osteoarthritic pain, so is relevant to you if you suffer from arthritis, gout, joint pain and chronic inflammation. Bromelain is also used for reducing swelling (inflammation), especially of the nose and sinuses. Bromelain also contains chemicals that interfere with the growth of tumor cells and slow blood clotting.
Further reading: also read my article about these foods to reduce inflammation in your body.
Improves immune system
Pineapples are packed with Vitamin C. High concentration of vitamin C is known to boost immune system and acts as an antioxidant. It also provides a boost to your immune system by helping to shorten the duration of colds.
Pineapples are also loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, manganese, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Pineapples are also known for their ability to build and maintain strong bones due to the content of the trace mineral manganese, which your body needs to build bones and connective tissues.
The enzyme bromelain, also aids digestion by breaking down proteins. This is why pineapple juice is often used in marinades, as the bromelain helps to tenderize the meat. The added benefit of marinating meat in pineapple juice is that the protein will reduce the inevitable spike in blood sugar levels from the pineapple’s sugar content. Find here how to make this delicious digestive detox smoothie which one of it’s ingredients is pineapple. To learn more about the concept of detox and how to use detox to cleanse and energize your body, you can find useful information in my e-book the The Detox Guide. The whole process helps to increase stamina and energy and improves the digestive process.
Protection against macular degeneration
This disease is the most common cause of vision loss for older adults and is caused by damage to the retina. Including pineapple in your diet can lower the risk of this disease because pineapples contain beta-carotene, which is important for healthy eyes. We’ve all heard that carrots are great for keeping our eyes strong and healthy, but actually research has proven that fruits are better for keeping your eyesight as adults. Find here more information about how to prevent eyesight problems and improve vision naturally.
Aids in weight management
Pineapple is a nutrient-dense food, which means that it provides a lot of nutritional benefit for a small amount of calories (one cup of cubed pineapple contains about 80 calories). Nutrient-dense foods can help with weight management as they help you feel full without adding too many calories, and provide you with fiber and a number of essential vitamins and minerals.
Few things to consider
1. Pineapples have high sugar content. It’s best to consume sugar-rich foods such as this for a quick boost of energy during exercise or to combine them after eating proteins or healthy fats that will reduce the sugar level spike in the blood. Pineapples also have a medium glycemic index so be aware of it if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
2. The common pineapple fruit may not contain enough doses of bromelain to act as medicine for certain conditions. Consult your physician before changing your diet or taking any bromelain supplements. This is because supplements may have side effects or interact with medications, so you should take them only under the supervision of your doctor. Bromelain is available in tablet or capsule form for use by mouth.
Tips for selecting and storing pineapples
1. Look for pineapples that are heavy for their size and have dark green leaves, and eat them within 2-3 days for best results.
2. Choose Pineapples that don’t have soft spots, wrinkled skin and bruises which may indicate that the pineapple is past its prime.
3. For the most antioxidants, choose fully ripened pineapple (pineapple stops ripening as soon as it is picked). A sweet scent is generally considered the most important aspect of choosing a ripe pineapple.
4. A whole pineapple can be left at room temperature for one or two days before serving. After two days, if you are still not ready to eat it, you should store it in the refrigerator where it will keep longer (a whole pineapple can last up to 2 weeks, and a cut pineapple will last for up to one week).
5. Once you cut the pineapple, you should store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
6. Although pineapple can be frozen for up to 6 months, this process greatly affects its flavor.