Just the thought of a pineapple conjures up images of tropic vacations with vibrant sunsets, palm trees along the coast, and the sound of crashing waves in the background. No tropical escape is complete without a refreshing bite of a succulent pineapple. Although most would think the origin of the pineapple is Hawaii, it’s actually South America. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that the pineapple was transported to Hawaii. Today, pineapples from Hawaii are the main supply in the states, while crop from China supplies the rest of the world. This fruit belongs to the Bromeliaceae, or Bromelaid family and it’s Latin name is Ananas Comosus. The funny thing is that the bromeliad family of plants rarely produces edible fruit. In fact, the pineapple is the only edible bromeliad today. Interestingly enough, the pineapple is formed by a composition of many flowers that fuse together around a central core. Each flower can be identified by the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. This renown fruit has a wide cylindrical shape and a scaly green, brown or yellow skin with a crown of leaves and a yellow fibrous flesh. You know a pineapple is ripe when you can smell the sweet and fresh scent. You should also be able to pluck a leaf from the top without much effort. Once you cut the top off, plant it to start your own pineapple plant! It should grow to about 3-5 feet tall and produce edible fruit within 24 months. Use it to make fresh salads, salsas, hot meals and baked goods of your choice.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Pineapple
1. Contains Manganese
This luscious fruit is not only sweet and delicious, it offers numerous health benefits as well. It is packed with manganese which is a mineral that is significant to developing well built bones and strong connective tissue. It speeds up the healing of wounds and keeps skin healthy. Pineapple consumption is perfect for older individuals since their bones tend to become brittle with age. Manganese also regulates blood sugar levels and works with the immune system to fight disease. The body is unable to produce this mineral on it’s own so we must find daily sources of it from the food we eat. Since pineapple is rich in this mineral why not go and get some?
2. Benefits of Bromelain
Bromelian is an enzyme in the pineapple’s core that is key to its value and effectiveness. This enzyme is referred to as a proteolytic enzyme which means breaks down protein. This makes it a great digestive aid because not only does it break down food but it also cleans the blood by removing debris and toxins.
Bromelian enzyme also contains some anti-inflammatory characteristics that can speed up recovery after external injuries by reducing swelling.
Doctor Mercola indicates that research published in the journal Planta Medica found that the potent bromelian enzyme may have been beneficial in treating cancer in an animal study. Although the use of enzymes is just now becoming mainstay in the USA, the use of enzymes to treat cancer dates back to 1911, when John Beard published The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and it’s Scientific Basis. According to Mercola, a study in 1999 suggests that he may have been right.
3. High in Vitamins A, Vitamin C and Contains Vitamin B-1
Pineapples are high in vitamin A. This particular vitamin works hard to battle the free radicals in the body that cause various illnesses such as colds (and even cancer). Your skin and mucous membranes use vitamin A to stop viruses and bacteria from entering the body. Vitamin A is also effective at regulating the immune system and keeping skin infections at bay. Don’t you think you should be eating some?
If you or someone you know is suffering from a cold, vitamin C is considered to keep the common cold at bay. Pineapple contains the vitamin C you need. This coupled with the bromelian enables the pineapple to reduce mucus in the throat. During a recent visit to CA during the winter I caught a cold with a lot of mucus. I happened to be munching on some pineapple one morning and it made me cough for a minute uncontrollably. Then, it actually cleared my sinuses and broke up the mucus. I was forced to cough it up and get it out of my system. Just the other day my 9 year old was congested. I gave him 1/2 a cup of pineapple and encouraged him to slurp up the juice too. It is no wonder that in Europe it is used regularly as a post-operative method to cut mucus subsequent to particular sinus and throat operations. Vitamin C also protects the bodies from free radicals that attack healthy cells. Free radical attacks lead to all sorts of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Being water soluble, vitamin C does not store in the body so we must consume it on a daily basis to restore our levels of it. The vitamin C found in pineapple also helps in the formation of collagen, a protein that grows new skin and blood vessels. The enzymes in pineapple make skin elastic, improve hydration and remove damaged skin cells. Eating them helps the body fight free radical damage, reduce age spots and fine lines as well and prevent plaque from forming on our teeth.
Vitamin B is commonly known as thiamin. It is responsible for turning carbohydrates into the daily energy that we need. It’s important for the nervous system and muscle functions. Thiamin can not only be found in Pineapple but also in meat, whole grain foods, leafy vegetables and egg yolks.
4. Rich in Fiber
Consuming natural sources of fiber is effective in easing constipation and irregular bowl movement. Even if you are regular, pineapple tends to move through the system quickly taking along with it many toxins.
5. Good Source of Sulfur
One of the most important and abundant minerals in the body is Sulfur.The Journal of Food Science indicates that there are volatile sulfur containing compounds present in Pineapples. Flexible sulfur bonds play critical role in the composition of protein to maintain the structure and integrity. Hair skin and nails are made of keratin, a strong protein made of flexible sulfur bonds. Our connective tissues and cartilage contain proteins composed of flexible sulfur bonds as well which give those structures their expandability. As we age, the supple tissues in the body tend to lose their elasticity which leads to sagging skin, less flexible muscles and less flexible joints.
You may not know that sulfur is also required for the proper structure and biological activity of enzymes which aid the body in the necessary digestion processes. Without adequate amounts of sulfur in the body, these enzymes are unable to be utilized most advantageously. One of the most crucial roles of sulfur is to help the body form a vitally important antioxidant called glutathion which is present in each of our cells. Glutathion has been given the master anti-oxidant status because it helps other antioxidants such as vitamin E and Vitamin C recharge once they preform their function as antioxidants. When they become oxidized by donating their electrons, glutathion helps them revitalize facilitating the detoxification process. Glutathion typically starts decreasing at about age 20 in the range of 1% a year. To boost glutathion production, get appropriate exercise and optimize vitamin D exposure since evidence indicates that Vitamin D increases intracellular glutathion levels. Sulfur is best obtained from foods like pineapple but can also be found in humanely raised pastured meats, fish and organic pastured eggs. These are considered complete proteins since they have all the sulfur containing amino acids your body needs. You can also find some in coconut oil. Cruciferous vegetables such Brussels, legumes asparagus, garlic, kale, and onions are all high in sulfur content too. If for some reason you don’t get enough sulfur from your diets in order to increase the glutathion levels in your system, you can also absorb it through the skin by taking a bath with magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt. So what are the details you need to take away from all this? Eat more pineapple to increase sulfur content in the body! Sulfur is imperative to the creation of proteins that make up the hair, nails and skin. It is what gives them their flexibility. Glutathione is created by sulfur compounds and is the master antioxidant which replenishes and re-energizes other antioxidants in the body. This process has many health benefits including reducing the toxic burden on your immune system by fighting free radicals. The sum of this equation equals a healthier you!
It’s imperative to note that while eating pineapples does increase your levels of all of the above nutrients, it’s not likely to cure a disease. Incorporating pineapple into your diet regularly will promote the outlined benefits by strengthening and boosting your body’s natural defense mechanisms.
How to Incorporate into Your Diet with Recipes from Mimi’s Organic Corner
Because I love organic food and pursue an Eco friendly lifestyle, I suggest using certified organic ingredients in all of your food and cosmetic recipes when available to maximize flavors and nutrition while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
You can’t go wrong with a smoothie of any flavor combined with pineapple. One of my favorites is Pineapple, Banana, mango, and mint for a nutritional boost loaded with health benefits including vitamin C, potassium and more. Today I switched this up and created a powerful smoothie packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants and nutrients using pineapple, orange, banana, raspberry, ground flax seed, some mixed super greens (kale, spinach, arugula) and a bunch of fresh mint. Blended with crushed ice, this gave me a terrific start to my day.
Grilled organic chicken and pineapple skewer on a bed of raw spinach. This recipe calls for beer but it can be eliminated if desired. Mix beer, honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a resealable bag until combined. Add chicken breast to the marinate and refrigerate for several hours. Preheat grill. Cut pineapple into wedges vertically, removing core from each wedge. Thread the marinated chicken onto the skewers, then the pineapple wedges and grill till cooked through. Toss spinach pine nuts and mandarin orange in a large bowl, then top with the chicken and pineapple skewers. You may also remove from the skewer if you prefer. Drizzle your favorite dressing over this dish and possibly some chopped fresh scallions for additional flavor.
Avocado Pineapple Salad – Combine chopped cucumbers and red onions with Serrano pepper, sea salt and lime juice. Add pineapple and avocado chunks. Toss to combine and enjoy.
Pineapple Salsa – Combine diced fresh pineapple, minced red onion, chopped cilantro, minced sweet red bell pepper, lime juice and a dash of salt. This simple salsa is a delicious addition to a meal with fish, seafood or chicken or can be added to bed of fresh greens. A simpler version of this is diced pineapple, red minced onion, fresh mint and some salt.
Crock Pot Fruit Soup – Add a small pkg of mixed dried fruit, some raisins of your choice, pineapple chunks, chopped granny smith apple, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, cloves, powdered ginger and a cup of water. Dump all these ingredients into a crock pot the night before you plan to serve and cook on low all night. You will enjoy this recipe as a soup or on top of your favorite oatmeal but remove the cinnamon and clove pieces before serving.
Pineapple Coffee Cake – You will need pastry whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg, non fat plain yogurt, your favorite oil, vanilla extract and a bunch of diced fresh pineapples and chopped pecans. Preheat your oven and combine the flowers, sugar, baking soda and salt, whisk the egg, yogurt, oil and vanilla till smooth then combine with dry mixture. Fold in the pineapple. Separately, combine pecans and sugar, then sprinkle over batter and bake for almost an hour.