The pineapple is part of the bromeliaceae family. It grows on tall trees and was given its name due to its resemblance to pine cones. The fruit is wrapped in a hard, spiky shell which is often a foot long.
At one time the fruit was mainly grown in Hawaii but it now also produced in Brazil, the Philippines and Costa Rica. It is in season from March until June but it is available in most markets year round.
When choosing a pineapple it should feel firm to the touch. The leaves should be green and not wilted and the color of the shell should be bright, not pale. The base should have a slight orange color. It’s also important to smell the fruit. It should have a fruity smell but not smell overripe or fermented.
If the fruit is not completely ripe, turn it upside down on its leaves while it ripens.
The fruit inside the pineapple has a sweet flavor that can be enjoyed fresh, canned or in a variety of desserts. It can also be added when cooking a ham or in a stir-fry. Some people enjoy it on pizza.
Health Benefits of Pineapple
Bromelain – This is a proteolytic enzyme which helps reduce the inflammation of joints caused by arthritis. It can also help reduce the formation of blood clots. The enzymes in bromelain also aids in digestion by breaking down protein. This is why eating pineapple after eating a meal high in protein can help with digestion.
Vitamin C – One serving of this fruit provides the full daily recommended serving of this vitamin. It boosts immunity. It also acts as an antioxidant against free radicals thus fighting the onset of cancer and other diseases. It acts as a healing agent due to the fact it helps the body produce collagen. This can also aid in keeping skin looking younger. Pineapple actually provides more Vitamin C than oranges.
Fiber – Like most fruits, pineapple is high in fiber which helps aid in digestion by preventing problems such as diarrhea or constipation. This is why eating the fruit is better than drinking the juice – which contains little fiber and can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
Antioxidants – Helps fight the formation of free radicals that can cause cancer and heart disease.
Manganese – An important mineral that promotes healthy bones and tissue and fights osteoporosis. Also, produces energy.
B vitamins – Reduces stress and increases proper brain function.
Copper – Aids in keeping skin healthy by maintaining elasticity.
Carotenoids – Helps protect eye health and fight macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of forty.
Those who suffer with ulcers should limit the amount of pineapple they eat due to its high acidic content.
Another benefit of pineapple is it is low in cost compared to other more exotic fruit. It can be purchased fresh, frozen or in cans. Small cans are available that are perfect for packing in lunch boxes. Always buy canned that is packed in its own juice and not in heave syrup.