Scientifically known as Ananas comosus, pineapples are tropical plants with sticky, sweet, juicy fruit (although sometimes it can be tangy and sour). They are powerfully loaded with several vitamins and minerals, as well as exceptional juiciness. Pineapples are readily available all year round in local markets.
Pineapple plants are commonly grown in the Philippines, Thailand, China, Brazil, and Mexico. You can also find it in Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. where these plants are still grown.
Some of the important health benefits you can get from pineapples are bromelain, vitamins, and minerals.
Bromelain. One of the most important enzymes found in pineapple is bromelain, a compound of several substances that can be drawn from the core fruit and stem. Bromelain is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce swelling as well as facilitate in the treatment of various ailments, such as:
- acute sinusitis
- sore throat
- bowel disorders
- acute constipation
- gastric irritability
- venereal disease
- suppressing coughs and loosen mucus
- powerful aid in removing intestinal worms
Bromelain also aids in the digestion of protein. Meaning, if you consume pineapple with other food, you can expect that bromelain is going to digest the other food.
And, have you tried using pineapple in cooking meat? Well, aside from enhancing the flavour of your dish, the bromelain content in pineapple juice is an effective natural meat tenderizer.
Vitamins and minerals. Fresh pineapple fruits are a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, like:
- Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K
- pantothenic acid
- dietary fiber
- manganese to help fortify and maintain healthy bones
In addition, pineapples are effective laxative, and natural contraceptive. Its fruit, juice, and peel have been used to treat corns, tumours, and warts. While, its leaf juice are said to have effective purgative, emmenagogue, and vermifuge properties.
Check out the In-Depth Nutrient Profile for more information on the nutritional value of pineapples.
Please take note, however, that pineapples are not a commonly allergenic food, and not known to have measurable content of oxalates or purines. Some studies even include pineapple in the list of Allergy Avoidance Diets, partly due to its bromelain content and the abovementioned concerns.
Just a bit of trivia: Did you know that out of pineapples leaves, you can make an elegant textile?
Tips on how to select, store, and cut pineapples
Know that pineapples stop ripening as soon as they are harvested. So, when buying pineapples, take these simple tips:
- If you prefer large pineapples, choose the heavier ones because they have the greater proportion of edible flesh. Although, this does not mean they are also greater in quality.
- Make sure that they are free of bruises, soft spots, and darkened “eyes”. These characteristics indicate that the fruits are past its prime.
- Smell the stem end of the pineapple and choose that which has a fragrant sweet smell. Don’t get the one that has a musty, sour or fermented smell.
- You may leave the pineapple at room temperature for one or two days before serving. This helps the fruit become softer and juicier. But if you are not going to consume the pineapple within those days, you should wrap it in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator to extend its freshness up to five days.
- Pineapples that have been cut up must be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container to keep it fresher and retain its juiciness and taste. Don’t freeze the fruit because it can affect its flavour.
Watch the video below for more tips on how to select a ripe pineapple and cut them into pieces.