Young children often get a kick out of the fact that the pineapple is neither a pine nor an apple. In fact, pineapples are berries because they are made up of little fruits fused together by a rind or core.
Many often think that pineapples come from Hawaii, as has been perpetuated by popular culture. But did you know that pineapples are originally from Paraguay?
The locals planted pineapples, and the fruit spread throughout South and Central America because it thrived in tropical weather conditions with little need for water.
When the Europeans sailed over to the Americas, Columbus brought pineapples back with him to Spain. Meanwhile, sailors would bring them on expeditions as a source of vitamin C to ward off scurvy.
This is also why pineapples spread to Far East Asian countries with weather and land conditions conducive to its growth. It is known as anonas, anunas, or nanas in other countries, all of which translate to “excellent fruit.” The name pineapple was given to it because it resembled pine cones.
So now you know that the pineapple is a good and delicious source of vitamin C. What else could this peculiar-looking fruit have in store for us?
Contains Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A
There are small amounts of vitamin A in the fruit, and it also contains beta-carotene, which is responsible for its yellow color. Our body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is used to strengthen mucous membranes in the body.
Vitamin A is also helpful in boosting our immune system in conjunction with all the other vitamins we take in.
One of the most widely known benefits of getting sufficient beta-carotene and vitamin A from food and supplements is that these nutrients improve eye health.
Vitamin A strengthens the mucous membrane along the eye and the macula, preventing its accelerated degeneration, which can lead to vision loss.
A study in 2008 found that supplementing the body with antioxidants to balance the oxidant-antioxidant levels in the airways could help people with asthma.
Beta-carotene is one of nature’s antioxidants, and an earlier study found that participants who were given beta-carotene at rest did not develop exercise-induced asthma. This gives hope to people with very reactive types of asthma who are sensitive to stress and increased activity.
Furthermore, beta-carotene can inhibit the release of histamines from mast cells and monocytes, which is a very reactive and common inflammatory response in asthmatic people that can lead to severe and prolonged attacks.
Prevents Lifestyle Diseases
Barring genetics and other pre-existing conditions, most lifestyle diseases can be prevented or kept at bay for longer periods of time with a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
Meanwhile, those who have already developed such diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, can keep their lipid profiles low enough to prevent inflammation and complications.
Some diabetics fear that sweet fruits may cause a spike in their blood sugar. It is true that some of the carbohydrates from pineapples come from sugar, giving it a moderate score in the glycemic index.
This means that it will moderately affect the body’s blood sugar levels. So eating a cup of fresh pineapple, as opposed to canned varieties, and pairing it with a healthy protein will help a diabetic patient fully enjoy the fruit and its other benefits.
Pineapple contains dietary fiber, which can also help diabetic patients control their digestion so that their body does not release glucose into the blood rapidly.
People with hypertension need to consume more food and beverages that contain potassium since it lowers the effects of salt on the body. Salt causes water retention, which in turn elevates blood pressure. The problem with some electrolyte-laden drinks is that they also contain a lot of sugar.
So what would be the best alternative? Pineapple juice. Since pineapple contains potassium and considerably less sugar than electrolyte drinks, while also containing dietary fiber, it will help restore the balance of fluids in the body.
Pineapples are rich in bromelain enzymes. Its popular use in medicine is for reducing post-surgery swelling, treating ulcers, helping hay fever subside, debriding dead or damaged tissue, preventing pulmonary edema, promoting muscle relaxation, and slowing down blood clotting.
Each of the aforementioned ailments involves inflammation. How does bromelain fight this? Bromelain targets large groups of proteins and breaks them down.
While protein is not necessarily bad, when it is constantly produced and released by the immune system, it leads to inflammation. Cytokines, one of the proteins released by the immune system, can cause inflammation in the digestive tract if not controlled.
People with sinusitis, hay fever, and asthma all experience inflammation in the nasal and bronchial cavity. Besides the histamine-inhibiting benefit of pineapples, it also reduces the inflammation that further aggravates the condition and prevents the afflicted from breathing properly.
Individuals with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, tendon injuries, and knee pain, as well as those recovering from dental surgery, will experience some relief if they are given bromelain.
However, bromelain also has the ability to thin the blood and may cause hemorrhage if taken immediately before and after surgery.
Bromelain also acts much like alpha-hydroxy acids, which are chemical exfoliators that break down the glue that holds the skin together. This may sound scary for some, but it is actually beneficial because the skin needs to shed itself every month, and bromelain can help speed up that cycle to reveal smoother and finer skin.
It is beneficial for people who have burns, acne, skin irritation, sun damage, and other conditions that prevent the skin from turning over.
Bromelain does have some mild side effects in some people, such as diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, nausea, and vomiting. This explains why some people often feel some discomfort after eating too much pineapple.
Rich in Antioxidants
Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants since it can help the body in so many ways and it reverses a lot of the damage inflicted by free radicals. Just 100 grams of pineapple chunks, with no sugar or other additives, can give you 80% of your vitamin C requirements for the day.
Not to mention, pineapple contains vitamin B-complex, which can help clear your skin and ensure optimal heart and brain function. Likewise, when a person’s diet regularly contains vitamin B-complex, their nerves tend to be healthier and are not damaged easily.
Pregnant women and lactating mothers will especially love pineapples since this helps mother and child during and post-pregnancy.
Individuals recovering from alcohol addiction and people who often drink alcohol experience a depletion of important vitamins and minerals, which leads to widespread damage to the brain and the rest of the body. It even prevents the pancreas from absorbing critical vitamins.
During alcohol recovery, urine samples show that high levels of vitamin B are secreted instead of being absorbed into the body. It has been found that mega-doses of crucial vitamins and vitamin-rich food help those in recovery from alcohol addiction.
Pineapples are a good source of nutrients, and everyone is encouraged to eat them whenever they can. A hundred grams of pineapple chunks contains the following nutrients:
- 50 Kcal of energy
- 13.52 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.54 grams of protein
- 0.12 grams of total fat
- 1.40 grams of dietary fiber
- 18 μg of folates
- 0.500 mg of niacin
- 0.112 mg of pyridoxine
- 0.018 mg of riboflavin
- 0.079 mg of thiamin
- 58 IU of Vitamin A
- 47.8 mg of Vitamin C
- 0.02 mg of Vitamin E
- 0.07 μg of Vitamin K
- 1 mg of sodium
- 109 mg of potassium
- 13 mg of calcium
- 0.110 mg of copper
- 0.29 mg of iron
- 12 mg of magnesium
- 0.927 mg of manganese
- 8 mg of phosphorus
- 0.1 μg of selenium
- 0.12 mg of zinc
- 35 µg of Beta-Carotene
Ways to Include Pineapples in Your Diet
It’s not hard to love the tangy taste of pineapples, and tourists on a tropical vacation often expect pineapples to be in abundance every mealtime. Besides eating fresh pineapple, there are a variety of ways you can include this exotic fruit in your diet.
- Pineapple in fruit salads.
- Grilling pineapple to go with meat.
- Adding pineapple to savory or fatty stews.
- Chopped pineapple on homemade fruit popsicles.
- Pineapple upside down cake or as toppings for crushed biscuit cakes.
- Crushed pineapple juice can be consumed alone or added to smoothies.
- Pineapple jams and puree on bread, cakes, ice cream, and other desserts.
- Candied or dried pineapples make a great treat for people who need a boost of energy.
Pineapples are a great source of vitamin C and B-complex, which contribute to a healthy immune and nervous system. The fruit is one of the most abundant sources of bromelain, which is an effective anti-inflammatory enzyme that targets inflammation-inducing proteins directly.
People with lifestyle and degenerative diseases can find relief from their symptoms by including a moderate serving of pineapples in their diet. However, it must be pineapples in its basic form or processed pineapples with less sugar content.
Even those who are simply trying to avoid these types of diseases can get a head start by making sure that pineapple is part of their healthy diet.