Nothing reminds me more of tropical breezes and the sounds of the ocean than a sweet, juicy, and nutritious pineapple. Originally known to many of us as a part of a jello mold, research has proven pineapple to be a nutritional superstar — highly effective as an anti-inflammatory, an aid in digestion, and in the treatment of many medical conditions.
Pineapples are in season from March-July, so come along on a mini tropical get-a-way, and learn why the nutritious pineapple should be part of your diet.
Did you know the pineapple is a traditional symbol of hospitality?
When colonial sea captains returned from their tropical voyages, they would take pineapples from their cargo and hang them on their front door or gate post as a sign of welcome and hospitality. Later, people began carving pineapple designs into doorways and gate posts. Pineapples are still used on door knockers, door mats, mail boxes, and on house markers as a symbol of hospitality and are given as a symbol of welcome or friendship.
What is the Nutrition in Pineapple?
One serving size, about 1 cup diced pineapple, has approximately 78 calories, is fat and cholesterol free, with trace amounts of sodium. They have 22 grams of carbohydrates, with 15 of those coming from sugar (which should be noted for people on restricted diets), and a good amount of fiber—about 3 grams per serving.
Pineapple is very high in Vitamin C and manganese, and has good amounts of many of the B Vitamins, phosphorus, and thiamine.
What are the Health Benefits of Pineapple?
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of pineapple is its amount of bromelain content. Bromelain is an enzyme that has many uses for our body, including the ability to help our body balance and neutralize fluids so that it’s neither too alkaline nor too acidic. It also stimulates hormonal secretions in the pancreas that aids digestion.
Recent research indicates that bromelain banishes inflammation as effectively as drugs. It reduces swelling, helps against sore throat, treats arthritis and gout, and carpal tunnel syndrome. New research is even showing pineapple to be highly effective at cancer prevention and treatment.
How to select a fresh Pineapple
Choose a pineapple that is heavy for its size. Pineapples do not ripen much more once harvested, so they are usually picked ripe and quickly distributed to the consumer. There should be no sign of greening, and they should smell fragrant. Look for an even gold color, with leaves that are crisp and green, with no yellow or brown spots.
Many people say that you can tell a fresh pineapple by pulling out one of the center leaves on the top. If it comes out easily — it’s ripe. This has always worked for me.
How to store Pineapple
A whole pineapple can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to three days before cutting, plus three more days after cutting in an airtight container. This is why pineapple is often canned, but please avoid those soaked in that sugary water.
One medium pineapple will yield about three cups of chunks.
Fun facts and Tips on using Nutritious Pineapple
- Christopher Columbus found pineapples on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe in 1493 and took them back to Spain. The Spanish used the word for pine cone (“piña”) for them because they resembled pine cones.
- A few hours before you plan to eat the pineapple, cut off the crown and then turn the fruit upside down on a plate and leave in the fridge. The sweetness of the juice which is at the bottom of the pineapple will be nicely distributed throughout the entire fruit when turned over!
- After a heavy meaty meal, drink some pineapple juice, as the protein-digesting enzymes help do the extra work of digesting for you.
- In 2005, Maui Gold® introduced its new extra sweet pineapple, with 3 times the amount of Vitamin C. If you haven’t tried one of these, treat yourself. They’re clearly marked and readily available.
- Don’t forget to throw it on the grill. Pineapple is one of the tastiest fruits to throw on the grill–alone or as a part of a kabob; just a few minutes on each side will do it.
Pineapple Salsa Recipe
Enjoy this week’s recipe for a great nutritious sweet and spicy Pineapple Salsa that can be used with fish, chicken, or tofu, straight off the grill, or added as a filling for tacos.