Pineapples are one of the best tropical fruits in the world, and living in Queensland I am surrounded by pineapples growing locally-how blessed. Pineapples have so many health benefits and are really versatile too: they can be eaten raw, cooked, juiced and are also great in a sweet and sour sauce!
It is easy to know when they are ripe as they are yellow, soft to touch and smell sweet. If they are still green they require a few more days ripening. The outer skin is rough and scaly and needs to be cut off. Pineapples belong to the Bromeliaceae family and actually develop from coalesced berries that fuse together and grow at the crown of a fruiting tree.
One cup of pineapples contains the following:
21g carbohydrates of which 2g is fibre. The sugars are mainly composed of glucose, fructose and sucrose and the glycaemic index is medium so it should not affect blood sugar levels for most people.
79mg vitamin C which is 131% of your recommended daily intake
1.5mg manganese which is 76% of your recommended daily intake
Pineapples also contain good amounts of thiamine, vitamin B6, folate and copper. They are 86% water and contain very little fat. Pineapples also contain bromelain and the antioxidant anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.
Here are my top six reasons to make pineapples part of your diet:
1. Immune support
Pineapples are really high in Vitamin C with one cup containing 131% of your recommended daily intake. This is one of the highest sources naturally available. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps boost and support the immune system.
Bromelain is also found in pineapples. It is a digestive enzyme that also provides immune support.
There are also numerous studies that show that bromelain can reduce inflammation especially in arthritis patients. Pineapple has also been shown to reduce inflammation post exercise. It has also been recommended post-surgery to reduce swelling, redness and bruising. A 2012 study in the journal ‘Burns’ has shown that there may also be potential for a bromelain based solution to help skin burns heal quicker.
It is worth noting that Bromelain is primarily found in the stem which is not eaten and therefore it may be necessary to supplement (with pineapple extract) if you are looking for these particular benefits.
3. Digestion Aid
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme that helps break down protein and research has shown that pineapples and bromelain aid in digestion and help in the treatment of irritable bowel disease and ulcerative colitis by reducing gut inflammation.
Pineapples also contain a good amount of fibre (mainly insoluble) and fibre is necessary to maintain a healthy digestive system. Fibre keeps you regular and therefore reduces your risk of colon cancer and diverticular and other bowel diseases. Fibre can also lower cholesterol levels.
4. Lowered risk of cancer
Research shows that pineapple and bromelain may have cancer fighting properties due to their antioxidant content. Studies have shown positive effects on colon, breast, mouth and throat cancer. The high level of manganese is important in this area of research too as manganese is a co-factor for superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that helps break down harmful oxygen molecules in cells.
5. Helps respiratory and cardiovascular system
Bromelain has been shown to reduce phlegm and mucus build up in the body and help eliminate it when it has already built up. Pineapples also have a positive effect on blood flow and can enhance cardiovascular health. The copper content in pineapples can help with formation of new, healthy red blood cells, therefore improving oxygen uptake and enhancing energy. Pineapples are therefore a great food for athletes!
6. Supports Bone Health
Although pineapples do not contain a lot of calcium, 1 cup of pineapple contains 76% of your recommended daily amount of manganese. Manganese is necessary for healthy bones. Studies have also shown that manganese along with other trace elements can help prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
As with all foods, pineapples don’t suit everyone. Some people can experience a reaction with pineapples to their mouth, gums, lips and tongue in particular. This is caused by the bromelain in pineapple. People who are on blood thinners should consult with their doctor before consuming pineapples.
Fancy starting your day with a pineapple smoothie? Try this one: