The pineapple was once prized as an expensive tropical import, brought back from South America by Christopher Columbus and available in the 1700s only to Europe’s wealthiest. The fruit was later grown in hothouses but remained rare enough to symbolize luxury and hospitality. They were so sought-after that King Charles II even commissioned a painting of himself being presented with the first English-grown pineapple!
Nowadays, pineapple is a much more accessible and affordable treat that provides plenty of health benefits as a part of a balanced diet. To get the most out of your fresh pineapple, choose fruit with a golden colour around the base of the fruit, and a distinct pineapple aroma. These will be ripest and most ready to eat.
Health benefits of pineapple
Pineapple contains high levels of vitamin C and manganese. Like most fruit and vegetables, it’s a healthy choice as it contains no saturated fats or trans fatty acids. You should aim to get at least 5 servings of a variety of fruit and vegetables into your diet each day for optimal health. Eating a variety of fresh, vitamin C-rich produce daily can help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
One serving (165g) of pineapple contains 78.9mg of vitamin C, 131% of your recommended daily intake. Vitamin C can’t be produced or stored in the body, so you need to include it as part of your diet every day to get its benefits. It’s essential for tissue growth and repair throughout the body, and plays a key part in wound healing and maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, cartilage, bones and teeth. It’s also an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage caused to cells and DNA by free radicals. A lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy, a disease which was much more prevalent in the days when pineapple was an expensive luxury! Nowadays scurvy is rare but is sometimes found in people who smoke or have alcohol dependency, as these reduce vitamin C absorption ability.
Source of Manganese
Pineapple is one of the best food sources of manganese, an essential dietary mineral. One 165g serving contains 1.5mg of manganese, which is 76% of the recommended intake. Manganese is essential for a working nervous system, sex hormones, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. Lack of manganese in the diet may be a contributing factor in bone malformation, infertility and seizures.
Other Essential Nutrients
Pineapple also contains other essential nutrients in smaller quantities. One serving has 9% of your daily recommended thiamin, vitamin B6 and copper intakes. The fruit is also a great source of dietary fibre, essential for good health. One 165g serving contains 2.3g or 9% of your daily intake.
Did you know: Pineapple also contains bromelain, a mixture of enzymes that digest protein. These enzymes can cause a tingly, slightly sore feeling inside the mouth after eating pineapple. This has no negative health effects but means that pineapple juice can be used as a meat tenderiser in cooking.
Pineapple in your diet
Pineapple is so much more than just rings in tins and chunks on Hawaiian pizza. The fruit’s tangy-sweet flavour means it can be used in a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Try one of the following ways to prepare it:
- Pop it on skewers with Hawaiian-style chicken
- Create a tangy pineapple salsa to add a tropical kick to Mexican dishes
- Blend it in a vitamin C-rich smoothie with yoghurt and orange
- Grill pineapple chunks and serve in a salad with decadent avocado mojito dressing
- Go retro and enjoy a pineapple upside down cake
- Blend pineapple and coconut for some healthy yoghurt popsicles
Have fun thinking up new ways to enjoy pineapple and its health benefits!