Pineapples get their name from the Spanish word piña due to their similarity to pine cones. Thankfully not only is the edible pineapple much more delicious than a pine cone, and they also pack an impressive nutritional punch!
Pineapples were originally native to Central and South America before being spread through areas of Southeast Asia. Nowadays, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand and Costa Rica are top producers of pineapples for the rest of the world.
Before global imports and exports were common, pineapples were a very rare treat in the United States and came to symbolize hospitality and welcome.
The Health Benefits Of Pineapple
1. Digestive Aid
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that helps break down proteins. It has been used for centuries to aid in indigestion.
In more recent studies, bromelain has been shown to reduce symptoms and progression of cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, inflammation found in autoimmune diseases, pain after surgery and can even accelerate healing of burned skin when applied in a cream form.
Always discuss changes to your diet or addition of supplements with your healthcare provider. Bromelain’s benefits as an enzyme also make pineapple juice useful as a meat tenderizer to break down some of the meat’s proteins.
2.High In Vitamin C
Pineapple is very high in Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, and vitamin. Vitamin C protects against cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and eye disease.
One cup of pineapple contains 131% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C. Getting adequate Vitamin C in your diet also can help you maintain a healthy immune system and vital for collagen production.
3. Increase Your Fiber
Fiber is vital for a healthy digestive system, maintaining a healthy weight, and can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol as well as glucose levels.
Combining fresh fruits and vegetables, including pineapple, with proper hydration is important for regular bowel movements and can help lower your risk for colon cancer.
Fiber helps you feel satisfied and full after meals which can help in weight loss.
4. Rich Source of Manganese
Manganese may not be something you think of often but is important for so many of the body’s functions. Manganese helps in the formation of bone, sex hormones, connective tissue and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
Lastly, manganese is vital to maintaining normal nerve and brain functioning.
5. Protect Your Eyes
Pineapple is a great source of beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A.
Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the United States.
6. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Pineapples are a good source of potassium and are very low in sodium. Eating more foods that high in potassium and low in sodium can lower your blood pressure over time.
Preventing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, lowers your risk for heart disease, stroke, and end-stage renal disease.
7. Great For Your Skin
High in both Vitamin C and beta-carotene, pineapple can help keep your skin both wrinkle free and protected from sun damage over time.
The high water content of pineapples can be very hydrating as well keeping skin supple. Make sure to still liberally apply sunscreen often for best results.
Ways To Include Pineapple In Your Diet
When choosing a pineapple, look for a fruit that has green, fresh leaves, a sweet fragrance and is heavy for its size. Pineapples do not ripen more after being picked, so be sure to pick one that’s already ripe.
Once you pick a good one, the easiest way to turn a full pineapple into a bowl of delicious pineapple chunks is to start with cutting off the pointy top of the pineapple and the bottom.
Now with a stable cylinder, cut down the sides to remove the spiky outer peel. Cutting the pineapple cylinder from top to bottom in four quarters allows you to save the most pineapple possible.
Cut out the inner fibrous center and then chop the remaining long pineapple quarters into smaller chunks.
Ways To Include More Pineapple
- Use pineapple chunks in kebabs with onions, peppers, and steak or chicken on the grill for a summer barbeque
- Chop with tomatoes, onions, red peppers and jalapeño for a sweet and spicy salsa
- Use pineapple as a fresh and healthy sweet choice in place of cookies or ice cream. A bowl of fresh cut pineapple can be even more refreshing and satisfying as a dessert
- Add pineapple in a shrimp or chicken stir-fry
- Combine with berries and grapes for a beautiful fruit salad
- Top your salad greens with pineapple for a tropical twist on a usual side salad
- Use pineapple juice as a marinade and meat tenderizer
- Make sure to drink alcohol in moderation, but pineapple is a delicious ingredient used in piña coladas for a refreshing frozen smoothie drink
- Blend into a smoothie with other fruits, plain greek yogurt, and ice for a delicious and nutritious version of a piña colada
- Combine with peas, carrots, onions and cauliflower “rice” to make a pineapple fried rice
- Freeze pineapple chunks to eat as an all-natural ice cream alternative or to add to recipes and smoothies at a later time
Pineapples are not only delicious but also a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Adding more pineapple to your diet can be an easy way to boost the health benefits of your meals and snacks!
One word of caution, however, be careful if you are eating large amounts of raw pineapple as it may irritate your mouth.
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