Don’t let that prickly skin intimidate you. Pineapple is sweet enough to rival most candies – and it offers a lot more health benefits.
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Registered Nutritionist Julia Zumpano, RD, talks about how this delicious tropical fruit is good for your health and how to choose a fresh, flavorful, and fabulous fruit.
What makes pineapple so healthy?
The impressive nutritional profile of the pineapple makes it a healthy dessert, side dish or snack anytime. A 1-cup serving (165 grams) provides only 75 calories and 0% of your Recommended Daily Value (DV) in cholesterol, sodium, and fat.
Here are some ways that eating pineapple can improve your health.
Provides a lot of nutrients
Pineapple is low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. One cup of pineapple pieces provides:
- Vitamin C: You get a third of your daily value in vitamin C, which supports tissue growth and repair. Vitamin C can also help fight cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
- Manganese: Pineapple has more than 100% of your daily value of this essential trace element. Manganese helps with bone formation, immune response and metabolism.
- Fiber: Almost 10% of your daily fiber requirement is in a cup of pineapple. “Fiber is necessary for a healthy intestine and can help you satisfy hunger,” says Zumpano.
- B vitamins: Pineapple gives you a healthy dose of various B vitamins, including thiamine, niacin, B6, and folic acid. These nutrients help your body process energy from the food you eat. They are also critical to the formation of new red blood cells that carry oxygen to your organs and tissues.
- Different minerals: “Pineapple contains several minerals that your body needs to function properly, including copper, potassium, and magnesium.
Promotes tissue healing
“Pineapple is the only food known to contain bromelain, an enzyme that helps skin and tissues heal,” says Zumpano. “Bromelain appears to produce substances that reduce pain and swelling.”
Consuming bromelain from pineapple can also help heal your skin after an operation or injury.
“Your body needs inflammation to fight off disease,” explains Zumpano, “but too much inflammation in the body, especially over long periods of time, can lead to conditions like cancer.” The anti-inflammatory effects of bromelain can help fight inflammation and encourage growth suppress certain tumors.
Of course, eating pineapples isn’t a cancer-free guarantee. “But eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, including pineapple, is a great way to prevent cancer and other health conditions,” says Zumpano.
Here’s another reason to make pineapple your favorite dessert: Pineapple contains a significant amount of fiber, which has been linked to better digestion. It also contains bromelain, which is believed to aid digestion, although there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support it.
Arthritis Pain Relief
The anti-inflammatory power of pineapple bromelain can provide pain relief for people with osteoarthritis. “If you have sore joints from osteoarthritis, try adding pineapple to your diet,” says Zumpano, “but don’t stop taking your medication or change your dose without talking to your doctor.”
Weight loss booster
Most weight loss experts recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables when trying to lose pounds. But pineapple could be the BFF (best fruit lover) of your diet because its enzymes could help burn fat.
“The studies of pineapple as a weight loss aid are based on animal studies only, so we need more evidence to support this claim,” says Zumpano. “But adding some of these healthy fruits to your diet certainly can’t hurt.”
Post workout recovery
When your muscles work hard, they produce inflammation – which leads to that inevitable sore muscles that can incapacitate you for up to three days. But adding pineapple to your post-workout smoothie can help you get back to your exercise plan a little earlier.
“The anti-inflammatory power of pineapple could soothe muscles and help them recover faster,” says Zumpano.
How to pick a good pineapple
Like most fruits, a ripe pineapple is sweet and juicy. However, unripe fruits provide a mild, dry, or sour taste. Unlike avocados, peaches, and bananas, pineapples don’t ripen any further after they are harvested, so leaving them on the counter to ripen won’t help.
Choosing a good one doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some ways to pick a juicy, sweet pineapple.
What does a good pineapple look like?
When looking for just the right pineapple ripeness, look out for:
- Golden color: A bright orange pineapple is overripe and past its prime; a green one is immature. Look for one that is a consistent golden color.
- Big eyes: These little lumps on the skin will give you a clue of what’s inside. Look for larger knots, which means the fruit has had time to ripen on the tree.
More evidence of a juicy pineapple
If you want the best pineapple in the bunch, you have to go beyond looks. Also check:
- Aroma: Sniff the underside of a pineapple before buying it. “A good fragrance has a fresh, sweet smell,” says Zumpano. Avoid those that smell funky or vinegar, or those that don’t smell at all.
- Strength: A hard pineapple is unlikely to be ripe. It should give a little when you squeeze it, but make sure it’s not soft or mushy.
- Leaves: The leaves should look fresh and green, and plucking should be easy.
- Weight: A pineapple should feel heavy for its size. “That shows that there is a lot of juice in it,” says Zumpano.
How should pineapples be stored?
Once you’ve decided on the perfect pineapple, don’t wait too long to enjoy it. Improper storage could spoil your fruit. This is how it stays delicious:
- At the counter: Most pineapples are fine for around two days at room temperature. Keep it away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
- In the refrigerator: Put a whole, uncut pineapple in the refrigerator. It should take about five days.
- Once it’s cut: Keep freshly cut pineapples in part of their juice and put them in an airtight container. Chill for up to five days.
This is how you enjoy pineapple
Pineapple is a snack on its own when cut into ring-shaped slices or pieces. But if you want to avoid cutting them, many grocery stores offer pre-cut pineapples. Frozen and canned pineapples are also great options.
“Choose canned pineapples that are packed in their juice, not syrup,” says Zumpano. “Pineapple is sweet enough on its own, so leave out the added sugars if you can.”
Easy pineapple recipes
Pineapple doesn’t have to go alone. This fruit also goes well in a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes. These recipes offer some inspiration:
While some of the health claims of pineapple need further study, there is no denying that it is loaded with nutrients that can increase your wellbeing. Slice, dice, grill, or blend it – however you choose to eat it, enjoy adding this bright, flavorful fruit to your diet.