Reportedly the second favorite fruit in America right after another tropical fruit - bananas - the pineapple is unique among fruits. The drought-tolerant pineapple plant grows five to eight feet tall, and bears fruit with a tough, spiky exterior around 12 inches long. A pineapple fruit can weigh up to eight pounds. Both sweet and tart, its fiber-like pectin gives the pineapple its satisfying chewy texture.
Native to Paraguay, pineapples got their name from the Spanish word "piña," meaning "pinecone." Technically, it's not one fruit, but 100-200 fruitlets fused together. Cultivation found its way northward to still-warm regions via roaming Indians, and was discovered by the same explorers who claimed the Americas back in 1492. The fruit became a favorite on ships as a hearty food source and as a protection from the sailor's dread: scurvy. Today, the bulk of the world's pineapples come from Southeast Asia, Thailand being the biggest producer.
Pineapple is great by itself and for so many recipes: shish kebabs, lettuce and fruit salads, stir fries, and salsa, to name a few. Prepare it by simply chopping off the top and bottom, and then placing on a flat surface to slice off the rind, top to bottom, all around. Then, just slice the fruit into "rings."
When choosing a pineapple, it's good to remember that the heavier they are relative to size, the better – as those are riper. The ripening process stops when they're picked, so to make sure it's not been too long; they should smell fragrant, not musty or fermented. While some people think they need to eat their pineapple almost immediately for optimal benefit, new studies show that cut and refrigerated pineapple are excellent for as long as nine days with only minor losses of phenolic phytonutrients. So for a rich, nutritious tasting experience, eat up!
Health Benefits of Pineapple
Of all the vitamins and minerals in pineapple, vitamin C beats them all with 131 percent of the daily value. Vitamin C has a reputation for suppressing coughs, colds, and flu symptoms for a reason. A natural antioxidant, vitamin C is also needed for synthesizing collagen, which is the main structural protein in the body for healthy blood vessels, organs, skin, and tissue support, heavy metal absorption, and bone strength.
Most of the nutrients aren't greatly diminished between fresh and canned pineapple, except for vitamin C, which is reduced from 131 percent of the daily value to 32 percent in canned. One cup of fresh pineapple chunks equals around 165 grams, while the same amount of canned pineapple contains 246 grams.
Pineapples provide three-quarters of the manganese needed for one day in a singleserving, letting loose powerful free radical scavenging through the super healthy enzyme superoxide dismutase. What's more, they come with folates, thiamin, biotin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and minerals like copper and potassium, the latter of which offers what's needed for healthy cell and body fluid maintenance, heart rate regulation, and blood pressure. Vitamin A and beta-carotenes provide additional antioxidants for immune system support and eyesight protection.
An enzyme called bromelain is able to break protein down into simpler substances to provide phytonutrients such as amino acids and peptides needed for digestion. Research indicates that because of the bromelain, wheneating pineapples, it discourages arthritis inflammation, indigestion, clotting, bruising, and harmful bacteria - even cancer and parasites.
However, consume pineapples in moderation because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Pineapple Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Studies on Pineapple
Bromelain, obtained from pineapple, possesses powerful anti-cancer compounds. Numerous studies have been conducted, but one in particular showed that cancer cells exposed to bromelain exhibited delayed growth, began breaking down, and then died.1 In a breast cancer study, bromelain given to subjects in ever-increasing concentrations over a 24-hour period demonstrated ever-increasing cancer-minimizing effects.2
Another study explored the anti-inflammatory capabilities of bromelain found in pineapple extracts. Research showed significant anti-inflammatory activity in allergic airway disease. Scientists concluded that it might also be an effective treatment for asthma, whether brought on by genetic, allergic, infectious, environmental, or dietary causes.3
How to Properly Cut Up a Pineapple
Many people often feel intimidated when faced with a whole pineapple, mainly because they don’t know how to start slicing up this exotic-looking fruit. So how do you cut a pineapple easily (and safely)? Here’s a simple technique from Good Housekeeping you can try:
- Trim off the top using a sharp serrated knife or chef’s knife. Watch out for the stiff, pointy leaves.
- Carefully trim the pineapple straight across the bottom – this will make it stand up straight.
- Holding the pineapple upright, its bottom resting on the chopping board, slice down the sides, cutting off not just the tough outer skin but also the inner spikes. Keep doing this all around the pineapple, making sure you’re following the fruit’s natural contour.
- Once all the skin has been removed, you can now slice the pineapple.
To make pineapple rings: cut the pineapple widthwise into slices. Afterwards, use a cookie cutter to stamp out the inner core.
To make pineapple chunks: Slice the pineapple lengthwise, around the core, according to the thickness you want. Cut each piece lengthwise one more time, and then finally dice crosswise (following the thickness you prefer) to create chunks.
While the above technique works for people with little experience in the kitchen or have no idea how to properly cut a whole pineapple, there’s one major drawback, which is that you’ll be trimming huge chunks of the flesh along with the skin, making them go to waste.
If you’ve got time to spare and you have pretty good knife skills, then you can use this method from Serious Eats instead:
- Same with steps 1 and 2 of the previous technique, slice off the top and bottom of the pineapple.
- Hold the pineapple upright, letting it stand on the chopping board, and then work your way around, taking off the skins. Don’t remove large chunks, though – instead, take off enough so no dark green or pale brown skin remains. Don’t worry if the “eyes” are still there – they’ll be removed later.
- You will see the eyes making a distinct array of straight parallel lines that run diagonally. Carefully cut the eyes out through these lines. Start by placing the knife in the pineapple, along one of the lines at an angle that allows the knife to slide underneath. Avoid cutting too deep and removing too many of the eyes at a time.
- Slice diagonally along the opposite of the first cut, removing the eyes in one wedge. Repeat this, going along the whole pineapple and removing wedge-shaped rows.
- Once all the eyes have been removed, you can now cut up the pineapples as you wish: in round slices, halves, quarters or in chunks.
Pineapple Healthy Recipes:
Warm Shrimp and Pineapple Tumble
|1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen black-eyed peas
||1¼ cup frozen green peas
||½ red bell pepper, chopped
||1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (optional)
|1 tsp. paprika
||½ tsp. salt
||1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and cooked
||1 1/3 cup chopped pineapple
|2 tsps. lime juice
||1/8-1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
||1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- Combine black-eyed peas, green peas, bell pepper, oil, paprika, and salt in large pan and cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook until heated through, for at least 2 minutes.
- Toss in remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
This recipe makes four servings.
Pineapple Fun Facts
Grow your own pineapple plant at home by twisting the crown off a store-bought pineapple, drying it for two to three days, and planting it. However, while pineapple plants can produce fruit for as long as 50 years in the wild, it takes two years to yield one fruit.
Pineapples are good for you, no matter your age. Adults gain bone support, and children who eat it get what they need for bone development, just one of the great benefits of this tropical fruit.
A series of fruitlets housed in a tough, scaly rind with a spray of green spikes at the top, pineapples contain well over a daily serving of vitamin C, a great infection fighter and collagen synthesizer, as well as manganese, containing the enzyme superoxide dismutase. The bromelain in pineapples is a unique enzyme with cancer-fighting capabilities that breaks down food so their nutrients can be used by the body.