Just thinking about pineapple brings forth a sense of island life. The sweet, fresh fruit is delicious and refreshing. It is the star ingredient in favorite tropical drinks. Its scent is so unique that just the slightest whiff of it lets you know exactly what it is you’re smelling. It is amazing that a fruit that is so low in calories could also be so luscious. Making things even better, this prickly fruit with the delightful taste is also one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
What is Pineapple?
With its spikey surface and blade-like green leaves, pineapple is one of the world’s most unusual looking fruits. It originally came from Paraguay, where it got its name from the Spanish word “pina,” which means pinecone. When sailors realized how healthy pineapple was, they started to carry it on their ships to protect them against illness. That’s how it made its way around the world. Today, most of the world’s pineapple comes from Thailand.
When you look at an uncut pineapple you see hundreds of berries that have fused together to form the single fruit. The flesh of the pineapple, as well as the stem, is loaded with special enzymes and nutrients, as well as vitamins and minerals that together act to protect against disease and provide relief from injury.
1. Pineapple Is as Nutrient Dense As It Is Sweet
Almost every weight loss diet will include pineapple on its menu. That’s because it tastes like dessert but is very low in calories. But the benefits of pineapple go beyond its ability to help dieters. It also has so many important nutrients that it is one of the world’s most popular and effective natural remedies. In fact, the levels of important phytonutrients found in pineapple have led to scientists finding that in some cases it is just as good as medicine at healing inflammation and preventing disease. One cup of pineapple contains:
Calories – 82
Protein – 1 gram
Fiber – 2 grams
Vitamin C – 79 I.U. (131% of RDV)
Manganese – 1.5 mg (79% of RDV)
Vitamin B6 – 0.2 mg (9% of RDV)
Thiamine – 0.1 mg – (9% of RDV)
Copper – 0.2 mg (9% of RDV)
Folate – 30 mcg (7% of RDV)
Potassium – 19.8 mg (5% of RDV)
In addition to these important nutrients, pineapple also contains calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, Vitamins A and K, riboflavin and niacin. More importantly, the phytonutrients and antioxidants in the fruit have been proven to help protect against disease and reduce symptoms of inflammation and other conditions.
Bottom Line: Enjoying pineapple’ delicious taste is made even better by knowing that it is loaded with important nutrients that are improving your overall health.
2. Pineapple Is a Heart Healthy Food
Your heart’s health depends on guarding against many different conditions. These include high blood pressure and inflammation, as well as obesity and high lipid levels in the blood. Pineapple’s nutrients and characteristics address each of these issues. It is high in fiber, which can lower blood glucose level and lipids. It contains potassium which lowers blood pressure and guards against stroke. The antioxidants in pineapple help to cut inflammation. Perhaps most important of all, the bromelain that is found in pineapple cuts the risk of blood clots and from arteries and blood vessels becoming clogged. One study showed that drinking pineapple juice on a regular basis reduced the risk of heart disease.
Bottom Line: Pineapple’s antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber make it an important part of a heart healthy diet.
3. Pineapple Helps You Digest Your Food
One of the most remarkable things about pineapples is that they contain high levels of an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain does a lot of good things for the body, but when it comes to your belly health it’s a real superstar. Bromelain breaks down proteins found in heavy foods like meat. This means much you feel less bloated and sluggish after eating them. At the same time, pineapple is high in fiber and water content. Eating it helps keep you regular and prevents constipation. It can also lower your chances of being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Most people don’t know that pineapple is also very helpful for those who have autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive tract. It eases the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and stops acid reflux, and helps those with celiac disease by breaking down gluten.
Bottom Line: The bromelain in pineapple makes it a powerful digestive aid that can eases the symptoms of many painful conditions, and helps keep your belly healthy.
4. Pineapple Helps Improve Your Skin
One cup of pineapple gives you 75% of your daily recommended intake of manganese and 131% of the Vitamin C that’s recommended. Both of these important nutrients help your body make collagen. Collagen is a fiber that your skin needs to stay strong and supple. It helps fight against wrinkles forming and protects against the damage caused by UV rays from the sun. Vitamin C also helps our wounds to heal quickly and protects us against viruses and disease. And not only does pineapple help protect your skin, it has the same protective effect on your eyes. The antioxidants in this sweet fruit protect against the chance of developing macular degeneration, a disease that affects our eyes as we age and which is caused by the sun’s rays. No wonder we eat so much of it during the summer, when the sun is at its strongest!
Bottom Line: Pineapple .
5. Pineapple is a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
The bromelain in pineapples does far more than break down proteins. It is also valued for its ability to stop inflammation in its tracks. Inflammation has been identified as the source of both pain and disease. It is what causes the pain of arthritis, but it is also what can lead to the discomfort from allergies and illness. Bromelain has been used to help patients recover after surgery because it eases swelling. Perhaps most importantly, inflammation has been identified as one of the causes of cancerous tumors forming. Scientists have found that animals with tumors have been able to live longer when given bromelain, and they are looking to see whether the same is true of humans.
Some illnesses are caused by inflammation, whiles others have painful symptoms that are driven by inflammation. From the constant misery of chronic sinusitis to the flares of symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease, studies have shown that drinking pineapple juice can help reduce inflammation, and therefore discomfort.
Bottom Line: Pineapple’s anti-inflammatory action can improve the quality of life for people suffering from a wide range of inflammatory conditions.
What You Need to Know When Shopping for Pineapple
You can buy pineapple in cans, and many markets sell the fruit already cored and cut into chunks. The best way to enjoy it is when it is fresh and to cut it up yourself. To choose a ripe pineapple, look for a fruit that has heavy and whose leaves are dark green. You can also smell the fruit. If it’s not ripe, it won’t have that fresh, sweet smell.
To cut up the pineapple, cut off the top and bottom and then slice off the spikey rind. Then you can cut the yellow flesh into rings or chunks. Though most people take out the core and throw it away, this is a mistake: the core has more of the healthy bromelain than any other part of the flesh It’s also higher in fiber. If it’s too tough to chew, add it to your smoothie!