This fruit is most commonly grown in Hawaii. Although pineapple is a bush fruit, it is mildly acidic like citrus fruits. Pineapples can improve digestion, relieve symptoms of a cold, keep bones strong and lower the risk for heart disease and cancer.
Pineapples resemble a large, green pinecone and have a tough, waxy ring that can vary in color from dark green to orange or red. Pineapples are very large and measure up to 12 inches long and weigh from 1 to 10 pounds or more. Some say the flavor of the flesh of the pineapple is a unique taste not unlike a mixture of peaches, apples and strawberries.
While this fruit is native to South America, Christopher Columbus and other explorers brought pineapples to Europe. Cultivation of the pineapple was attempted until the would-be growers realized this fruit needs a tropical climate in order to flourish. Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced pineapples to their colonies in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.
Even though pineapples are only grown in Hawaii, the U.S. ranks as one of the leading growers of pineapples. Other world producers are Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, China and the Philipines.
This fruit is an excellent sour of manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B1. Pineapple is also a good source for vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and dietary fiber. A 100-gram serving (about 2/3 cup) of pineapple contains about 45 calories, 0.1 grams of fat, 0.1 grams of carbohydrates, 8.3 grams of natural sugars and 0.6 grams of protein.
Fresh pineapple is very rich in bromelain, a compound made up of sulfur-containing, protein-digesting enzymes that aid in digestion and reduce swelling and inflammation. Bromelain also breaks down mucus in the respiratory system and may help those suffering from chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Current research is underway to study whether bromelain may also be effective as an anticancer agent.
A wide variety of inflammatory agents are inhibited by the compounds in bromelain. Some of the conditions which appear to be significantly relieved by the use of bromelain include sore throat, arthritis, acute sinusitis and gout. Bromelain has also been known to speed recovery from surgery and injuries.
The anti-inflammatory effects of bromelain are maxamized when pineapple is eaten alone, between meals: when eaten with other foods and at mealtimes, the enzymes are "used up" in digesting food.
This fruit is also a good source of manganese, a trace mineral which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important to antioxidant defenses and energy production. Superoxide dismutase, a key antioxidant enzyme, requires manganese. One cup of fresh pineapple supplies over 73 percent of the daily recommended value of manganese.
Pineapples are a good source of pineapple, the vitamin the body uses to make collagen, often called the "glue" holding tissues and bones together.
Vitamin C is also helpful when an individual has a cold as it reduces levels of histamine, a chemical which causes water eyes and runny noses.
This delectable fruit is not associated with any significant safety issues. Pineapple is also a hypoallergenic food used in allergy avoidance diets.
Selecting and Storing
Choose pineapples which are more yellow than green in color and seem to be heavy for their size. Ripe pineapples have a fruity and fragrant aroma. Do not purchase pineapples with moldy or decayed spots, particularly when the decay is at the site of the bottom stem scar.
Pineapple can be left at room temperature for a day or two before cutting. Although this will not make the pineapple any sweeter it will allow it to become more soft and juicy. This fruit is very perishable and should be closely watched during this period to be sure it does not become spoiled. Once the pineapple has been sitting out for a couple of days, it should be refrigerated even if it is not cut. This fruit will keep in the refrigerator for another three to five days.
Once cut, the pineapple pieces should be stored in an airtight container. Placing some liquid (preferably pineapple juice) in with the pieces of pineapple allows it to retain more taste and stay fresher. Pineapple can be frozen but the taste is adversely affected.
Serving Ideas for Pineapples
Pineapples should be thoroughly washed before they are cut. They can be sprayed with a solution of additive-free soap or a commercial produce wash and then scrubbed under cool running water with a vegetable brush.
The first step in cutting the pineapple is to remove the crown and the base of the fruit with a sharp knife. To peel this fruit, place it with the base side down and cut off the skin, carving out any "eyes" which were left behind.
Pineapple is excellent as part of a fruit salad. Other serving suggestions include:
- For a tasty side dish to accompany chicken, mix chopped pineapple, cashews and grated fennel. Pineapple tastes great with all vegetables and meat on the grill. Add to shish kebobs as well.
- Mix diced pineapple, tomatoes and chili peppers for an easy salsa to accompany fish, such as tuna, salmon and halibut.
- Drizzle maple syrup on slices of pineapple and grill until brown. Serve with yogurt or plain.
- Holford, P.(2004). The optimum nutrition bible. London : Piatkus
- Holford, P & Lawson, S. (2008). Optimum Nutrition Made Easy How to achieve optimum health. London : Piatkus
- Murray, M.T. et al.(2005). Encyclopedia of healing foods. London : Piatkus
- Yeager, S. & Prevention Health Books. (1998). The doctors book of food remedies : the newest discoveries in the power of food to cure and prevent health problems from aging and diabetes to ulcers and yeast infections. [Emmaus, Pa.] : Rodale
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